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11.07.2018 | torture

“He was threatening to kill us if I did not kneel before him”. A Vardavar celebration that will never be forgotten

“He was threatening to kill us if I did not kneel before him”.  A Vardavar celebration that will never be forgotten
Avetik Sargsyan, a 42-year-old resident of Kotayk region considers personal shame the Vardavar [an ancient Armenian festival from Pegan times and then adopted by Christianity: during this holiday, people drench each other with water] incident on July 8 in the back yard of Karen Gasparyan, the brother of the former Head of Police Vladimir Gasparyan. As the society is well informed, Gasparyan’s brother deprived Avetik Sargsyan of freedom, called him to his house and, closed the gates, fand orced him to kneel down before him, while Gasparyan’s son hit him several times. 

It all started from a small bucket of water that Sona, Avetik’s 12-year-old daughter threw in the direction of Karen Gasparyan’s car on Vardavar Day. Karen Gasparyan stopped the car and, attacking the child, tried to grab her neck and soak her head into the ditch. The father, naturally, tried to protect his daughter. The video footage of the incident to which the neighbors tried to interfere was spread over the internet within hours. The fight continued at Gasparyan’s house, after which Avetik was taken to a hospital with concussion and severely beaten-up.  

The police has prepared and sent materials to the Prosecutor General’s Office, and a criminal investigation has been launched against Karen Gasparyan’s son, police officer Sergey Gasparyan. Sergey Gasparyan is temporarily suspended from his duties as police officer.

The wife and daughter were rejoicing that we knelt  

“They were 8-10 people. They were not wearing uniforms, were in civilian clothes, but I do not know them. They did not hit me at once. In presence of my neighbor and my brother’s child, Karen was threatening to kill me if I do not kneel before him. He told he enjoyed when somebody kneeled in front of him and apologized. He said, if you do not do so, I will kill you and the child. 

“Why did you believe he would kill you?” to our question the victim replied: “I believed because he told he had personal weapon in the car, nobody will exit this house alive, I will kill you both. In the beginning, I did not kneel. His [Karen Gasparyan’s] son hit me unexpectedly. The same son that was telling us that, if we go and talk to his father, everything will be over. Everything happened in front of our neighbor Shura Melkonyan. Shura told him that, if needed, he will apologize, but why shall anybody kneel down? Karen Gasparyan pushed Shura away and told me that, if I do not kneel, he will shoot the child. And they took away my brother’s child. I was afraid for the child so I kneeled. The rest of people surrounding us were just waiting.”

Avetik Sargsyan was discharged from the hospital, but his health is in poor condition. “I`m in deep stress: I was humiliated in the presence of the child, and his [Gasparyan’s] wife and daughter were rejoicing our kneeling. I will pursue this till the end. Today he attacked my child, tomorrow will harm someone else,” says the injured and offended man.

The case is in the Special Investigative Service  

The Prosecutor General`s Office told Forrights.am that the materials received from the police were sent to the SIS to clarify the grounds for continuing the preparation of materials and instituting criminal proceedings. Today, Avetik Sargsyan has been summoned to the SIS.  

Avetik Sargsyan does not have a lawyer, while Karen Gasparyan has already hired the defender Armen Feroyan. The latter announced yesterday: “The circumstances of the beatings allegedly involving Karen Gasparyan in the media do not correspond to the reality. There are very clear evidences that these circumstances do not correspond to the reality, which directly prove their fraudulent and fictitious nature. Particularly, there are video recordings of the incident scene, as well as of Karen Gasparyan’s house.”

“The lawyer is lying”  

Avetik Sargsyan’s sister Haykuhi Sargsyan insists that the lawyer is lying. She was present when Karen Gasparyan threatened the girl. “Don’t you know who I am? Who the hell are you, whose bitch are you?”, he yelled. He said very rude words that I cannot repeat. Why should we know who he is? Let him write his name on his car so that everyone knows who he is,” says the woman. 

She returned from Sweden just ten days ago. Her son is 8-years old. She came and collided with the Armenian reality, and one of the first impressions she received was the curse and violence from the brother of the ex-Chief of Police of Armenia in front of the child.  

“We are just astonished,” says Haykuhi Sargsyan, "in Sweden, they pay much more attention to the protection of the child’s rights. And nobody here said that violence was inflicted on a child. The police were very indifferent. My niece Sona is blaming herself for what has happened, because she knows her father is a simple villager, helpless against the lairds. We came happily to celebrate Vardavar, but we are miserable because of these criminals. The problem is not the bodily injury, but psychological depression, humiliation of my brother, who is the father of three juveniles.”  

Gasparyan’s family members joined the barbarism. The daughter intimidated the children with an electric shock. “There was a 30-year-old woman, I don’t know who she was, and she told me that they will be coming after us. And, they really came after us,” says Haykuhi.

“Karen grinned: he had his share of enjoyment”  

Sargsyans’ neighbor, 70-year-old Shura Melkonyan says: “It was humiliating. They forced the man to kneel down and apologize. I interrupted, I said, well, we understand your demand for an apology, but why should he kneel down?” He replied to me: “I enjoy it.” This is who these people are.  He said, “You kneel down or I will end you with a weapon, I will hit you with it.” About 8-10 people were gathered, everyone was breathless.” In response to our question what Karen Gasparyan did when Avetik kneeled in front of him, Shura Melkonyan replied: "Karen grinned. He had his share of enjoyment.” 

The former police chief`s brother Karen Gasparyan is the head of the Transportation Department of the Ministry of Transportation and Communication. He lives in Yerevan. From time to time, he visits the village. His mansion is separated from the rest of the world with high walls made from concrete, and the villagers do not know what ever happens beyond the wall. The villagers also do not know if Karen Gasparyan had humiliated people before.  

“He keeps his house guard and everybody in constant fear. He scares everybody by his curses and swearing, and does not interact with the villagers,” said one of the village women. 

Syuzan Simonyan
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