Armenian citizen Asya Khachatryan moved at the beginning of 2018 to live and work in Stepanakert. Late in the evening of February 1, the young girl caught the eye of three police officers as she was walking around the Karabakh capital and ended up suffering both physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Stepanakert police over the following few days. During one of her many forcible detentions, Asya was slapped in the face, cursed at and threatened by various officers. Asya’s friend and roommate, meanwhile, was knocked out by a blow to the head she received from an officer.
When Asya demanded that the police explain their inappropriate and violent behaviour, the officers told her that “a woman should not smoke, or dye her hair blue.” To Asya’s argument that the officers’ actions were illegal, the law enforcers replied: “Go look for laws in Armenia.”
Local Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan, whom Asya turned to for help and protection, offered to “deal with the issue in a private manner” and urged the young girl not to file criminal or court appeals. He also advised Asya to refrain from turning to the media, since “you have to understand that the issue concerns Artsakh.” Melikyan further promised to speak with the police officers and explain that “this was no way to treat guests from Armenia” if the girl agreed to his conditions. The office of the Armenian Ombudsman, on the other hand, has yet to respond to Asya’s appeal.
Upon returning to Yerevan, Asya filed a report with the General Prosecutor’s office; the following day, area police officers went to Asya’s apartment to inform the young girl – without serving her with a summons – that she had to appear at the 6th department of the Criminal Investigation Department of Armenia’s Police as soon as possible to meet with investigator David.