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‘Will Kill You If You Leave Me;’ Women’s Group Shares Story of Yerevan Domestic Violence Victim

Society without Violence, an Armenian non-profit working towards eliminating gender inequality, gender-based violence and discrimination, tells the story of Narine Danielyan, a 38-year-old Yerevan woman who was killed by her husband in September, 2016.

Narine Danielyan got married at the age of 14; during the 25 years of marriage, the woman was constantly battered by her husband, 42-year-old Arthur Meliksetyan. After two “failed” attempts, Meliksetyan finally killed Danielyan on September 19, 2016, and threw her body into the water.

Following yet another fight, Narine had firmly decided to leave her abusive husband. Her sister, Karine Danielyan, insists that Narine could have maybe prolonged her life for a few years had she tried to reconcile with Arthur.

“I don’t know whether it was jealousy or what, but Arthur was [the kind of man] who was convinced that he could do whatever he wished with his possessions. My sister was also an object and a slave for him,” Karine says.

The woman recalls that Meliksetyan once fought with Narine because she had greeted one of the employees of a store nearby their house; “Because of this greeting, he took her to the Sovetashen cemetery to kill her.” That time the woman was rescued by her father-in-law.

Arthur, a father of three minor children, did not have a permanent job. “He would take up random jobs if he were offered any,” Karine says. According to her, their parents always provided for her sister’s family.

“He did not feel any responsibility towards his own family. I would come [to Yerevan] from Byureghavan to take their sick children to hospital because he was too lazy to do anything. The kids were like slaves to him: he’d just lie on his back and order them to go and borrow bread from the store,” Hovakim Danielyan, Narine’s father, tells.

Not only was the woman not allowed to work, but also had to ask for her husband’s permission to leave the house. During questioning with investigators, her two minor daughter, 15-year-old Goharik and 13-year-old Zhanna, recalled; “Mom would always call dad and inform him that we were planning to go somewhere.”

The marriage became relatively “smooth” in 2013, when Narine finally gave birth to a son – Arthur’s dream. “’Your life will change if you give me a son,’ he’d tell her. After their son’s birth, the atmosphere at their home changed somewhat for about 5-6 months. Then everything changed dramatically… And he killed my sister. He wanted a son to make a copy of himself,” Karine suggests.

Over the enmity-filled years, Narine tried several times to end the marriage and leave with the children; “She always wanted to divorce him, but she did not have a support system; she did not know where to go to with her three kids. Once, during a fight, my sister told him, ‘don’t you dare raise your hand on me, or I’ll call the police.’ He got a little scared after that, and would call Nano a rat.” According to Karine, her sister’s children have told her that during the fights their father would always threaten to kill Narine if she ever left him.

After a fight on September 17, when Narine decides to leave her husband, Arthur calls her father and says; “Come, take your bitch away!” Karine does not know exactly what happened between the spouses on the day of the murder, September 19; however, the woman is convinced that the murder was planned and deliberate. According to her, on several occasions, Arthur has even described in the presence of their kids how he was going to kill their mother; “He said he would shove a knife into her heart over and over; that he would put my sister and my dad beside our mother [who died several years ago].”

On the day of the murder, the spouses drove to the village of Zartonk in the Armavir province; “That’s where Arthur’s relatives live. I don’t how he convinced my sister to go with him, but he tricked her in order to kill her. They say these relatives owed money to them, so they went to collect this debt. He deliberately drove back when it was dark and took my sister to a place familiar to him, on the side of the road…”

The September 22 episode of “Hertapah Mas,” an Armenian police TV program, reported that “the body of a young woman with multiple signs of violence was found on the Aknalich-Zartonk highway in Armavir province. The woman’s husband, Arthur Meliksetyan, was arrested on suspicion of murder.” When questioned by the police, Arthur “explained” that he had beaten his wife to death during an argument that had arisen because of jealousy and wanted to cover the tracks.

“I beat her… I don’t know what came over me. Everyone goes crazy in their own way; this was mine,” Arthur says in the video released by the police. Meliksetyan has been charged under Article 104.1 of Armenia’s criminal code (murder); the case is at the stage of preliminary investigation.

Seda Safaryan, a lawyer for the woman’s next of kin, says it is still impossible to tell how efficient the investigation is; “We hope that this case does not suffer the fate of similar others, when the incomplete or poor performance of the preliminary investigation authority subsequently also affected the verdict. Narine’s case provides for a fair investigation scheme. Her husband has already been trying to push forward other versions: that he was in a state of temporary insanity, that Narine fell into the water herself, and he tried to pull her out. But forensic experts insist that the death was caused by asphyxia due to compression.”

The victim’s sister, for her part, argues that this was not just a murder, but a cruel and premeditated act; “I specifically went to the morgue to see the signs on Narine’s body. Her face was completely battered; Narine was unrecognisable. My sister must have tried to defend herself, because there were also scratch marks on Arthur.”

Since the death of their mother, Narine’s daughters and her 3-year-old son Artyom have been living with their father’s parents, who, according to Karine, “blame their son for everything.”

“Parents usually support their sons, but Narine’s in-laws would always tell Arthur to leave, insisting that they would take care of Narine and her kids,” the sister says.

Following the incident, the health condition of Arthur’s mother deteriorated sharply and she suffered a heart attack. When the man phoned home from prison and asked what “his Artyom” was doing, the grandmother replied, “he wants his mother.” Arthur, then, urged his mother to “buy him a plush bunny to play with.”

Shahane Khachatryan