Recently prisoner Hayk Galustyan went on a hunger strike and sewed shut his eyes. The details of his complaint aren’t listed, but his primary demand was simply to be transferred to a different penitentiary. He says the transfer was promised to him by the President.
Regardless of whether Galustyan is correct or not about the transfer, his case is obviously a matter that should be taken seriously. Instead Hrair Tovmasyan, the Minister of Justice, states that “Sewn up eyes or mouth is as usual for prisoners as earrings for girls. They have the holes.”
The Human Rights Defender’s Office Rapid Response Department visited Galustyan, who had ended his hunger strike and removed the stitching and had “no complaints about the penitentiary.” It’s almost certain he was being pressured as he still filed a complaint with the Ombudsman.
Prisons are severely overcrowded in Armenia with significant abuses of prisoners’ rights. There are a number of extensive articles on the subject, but here is a very brief news piece to act as a primer.
Update on Nov 4: Gagik Tsarukyan, the head of the Prosperous Armenia party, openly criticizes the Minister of Justice for his remarks.