Lifers on Hunger Strike: Nubarashen prison inmates demand revision of cases

Lifers on Hunger Strike: Nubarashen prison inmates demand revision of cases

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About five dozen inmates of a Yerevan prison serving life terms have gone on an open-ended hunger strike demanding that their cases be reviewed. The prisoners at Nubarashen have also written a letter to the president of Armenia.

In the letter to President Serzh Sargsyan the lifers say that after struggling for their rights, being unable to reach a result and having no choice, they declare a hunger strike and are ready to take any measures to highlight the problem.

“Many letters on the issues regarding lifers’ problems in Armenia have been sent to you both by us and by famous artists, scientists, clergy, and NGO heads. In 2009 an application signed by 13,000 Armenian citizens was sent to you, but so far none of the issues raised got a solution,” says the prisoners’ letter.

Soghomon Kocharyan, who is serving the 21st year of his life-imprisonment term, and was originally sentenced to death in 1995 for killing an ethnic Azeri citizen of Iran, has serious health problems and it is possible that he will be freed from further punishment. During its October 8th session the Interdepartmental Medical Committee gave a positive conclusion on further proceedings connected with convict.

But as for other lifers, any steps to review their criminal cases have not yet been taken.

“President Serzh Sargsyan is personally responsible and he does not allow the norms stipulated by law to be applied to lifers. I am referring to both suspended sentences and change of regimes. In this respect, indeed, the recipient is very directly and precisely chosen,” Artur Sakunts, the head of the Vanadzor office of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, told ArmeniaNow.

As for the prisoners’ hunger strike, Sakunts said that people simply do not have another option.

“Until now, there has been no evidence that there is a political will of making some changes in lifers’ rights. Any problems that arise with their health or even worse cases, it is the direct responsibility of Serzh Sargsyan,” he claimed.