War Resisters' International learned today from Keston News Service that Gevork Palyan, a Jehovah's Witness and conscientious objector, was sentenced to one year imprisonment on 12 September 2001, for refusing military service on religious grounds.
Gevork Palyan is the latest in a long line of conscientious objectors to face imprisonment in Armenia under Art. 75 of the Criminal Code (refusal to perform military service). An amnesty this summer has seen many of them freed, although some remain in prison, and new sentences are likely.
Keston News Service reports that 37 Jehovah's Witnesses sentenced to terms of up to three years have been releaesed according to a decree issued by parliament on 12 June. As of 10 September, however, 13 Jehovah's Witnesses remain in prison or penal colonies due to their refusal to perform military service: Khachatur Zakaryan, Amayak Karapetyan, Arman Atanyan, Vahan Mkroyan, Armen Yeghiazaryan, Vladimir Kiroyan, Vladimir Osipyan, Edgar Bagdasaryan, Aram Shahverdyan, Vachagan Hovhannisyan, Karen Vardanyan, Samvel Vardanyan and Karapet Harutyunyan. Four more await trial and a further five are living at home on condition that they report regularly to local police.
War Resisters' International calls for support to conscientious objector Gevork Palyan, and for his immediate release, as well as for the immediate release of all other imprisoned COs.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Armenian authorities:
President Robert Kocharian Respublika Armenia 375019 g. Yerevanpr. Marshala Bagramiana, 26 Prezidentu Kocharianu, R ARMENIA Fax: +374-152 15 81, 152 17 96, 115 11 52
Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International