Saturday, September 18, 2010

Humiliation in Armenian Army is Commonplace... Defense Ministry has Nothing to Say at This Time (
Sept. 15, 2010

Nothing has yet been clarified about the video making waves online recently, RA Ministry of Defense press spokesperson Mushegh Aghekyan told yesterday.

In the approx. 4-minute video, a man, perhaps about 40 years old and naked from the waist up, wearing fatigue army pants, appears to be hitting a younger man in army fatigues who is kneeling with his head bowed. This is then followed with a similar act on another younger boy, also in army fatigues.

Aghekyan assured that if it turns out that the video has been fabricated, the filmmaker and those who have disseminated the video will be punished; if the opposite is true, the video's "star" (the older man) will be the one who is punished.

Asked what has been done so far in this matter and whether the Defense Ministry's technical and professional expertise allows the video to be properly scrutinized, Aghekyan said that currently, he has no information for the media.

Employee at Armenia's Human Rights Defender office Nora Alaverdyan informed that the ombudsman's office is not currently engaged in this issue. The Human Rights Defender's office will defer the case to the Defense Ministry if it turns out that the video is evidence of a violation of human rights, added Alaverdyan.

Employee at the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor office, human rights lawyer Arthur Sakunts is not directly involved in the work addressing this video, because at the moment he is preoccupied with the case of the six soldiers killed in Martuni.

At the same time, Sakunts is keeping his eye on developments related to this video. "Officers humiliating soldiers is a very common phenomenon in the Armenian army, but these issues are raised after soldiers are tortured to death," Sakunts told

Commenting on the Defense Ministry's response, in which the governing body of the RA Armed Forces doubts the authenticity of the video and promises to punish those who are disseminating it, Sakunts said that the military office has created an atmosphere in which the complaints of those subject to torture in the army are ignored, while the guilty remain unpunished.

The army's leadership, according to the human rights lawyer, is not preoccupied with revealing criminals, but rather tries to conceal the facts at any cost and to take revenge on those who share information and those who disseminate it.

"People in such a situation prefer not to complain, and this video is the last cry to raise this issue. The issue isn't the video, it's the phenomenon, which is widespread in the armed forces and has become commonplace in the army," said Sakunts.

He also considered claims that Azerbaijan produced the video to be absurd.

"When videos about indiscipline in the Azerbaijani army are uncovered, the Armenian side immediately makes statements saying see what's happening in their army. And no one says that the video could've be produced in Armenia," added Sakunts.

The video can be found by clicking on the link below. Note that the video is periodically taken down; however, YouTube users upload it again (and thus, it can be found through other links as well).

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