32 year-old Ararat Tchagharyan has AIDS.
So why is he lying in the general ward of the Armenian Ministry of Health’s Psychiatric Medical Center’s Avan clinic?
Ararat’s mother Ofelia says he son is receiving no treatment at all for AIDS, but that a court is not allowing her to have Ararat discharged and taken elsewhere for care.
As to how Ararat ended up in a psychiatric ward is a long story. Basically, this past February he met up with another young man named Armen Tamrazyan who had left his native village of Haghartzin for Yerevan to look for work. Finding out that Armen had no place to stay in Yerevan, Ararat suggested that he spend the night at his father’s property. On the way, the two used an underground passageway to cross Mashtots Street. Halfway along, Ararat bashed Armen on the head, beat him, and took his bag. The cops detained the fleeing Ararat
During the investigation, the police declared Ararat to be intoxicated and charged him with bodily assault. He was also charged with robbing Armen of property (clothes, iPhone, etc) worth 103,800 AMD. Ararat’s parents compensated Armen for the full value of the damage.
On February 25, Ararat received long-term pre-trial detention, during which he mothers claims the police severely beat her son. She claims the beating was so bad that her son can’t remember anything of the incident.
Ararat was given a psychiatric evaluation on April 3 and was diagnosed with AIDS related “weak mindedness” (This diagnosis is the literal translation of the Armenian “toulamtoutyun” – HG). The psychiatric evaluation also concluded that Ararat was incapable of governing or being aware of his actions. Basically, the physicians found that he was not guilty of the assault on Armen due to his condition. They also concluded that he posed a danger to society at large and committed him to the psychiatric ward for supervision.
Ofelia Tchagharyan claims that her son never manifested any signs of psychiatric imbalance and that they were caused by the beating he received while being held in police custody.
On April 8, an investigator with the Kentron Police ruled that Ararat be given mandatory treatment for his psychiatric disorder and that his detainment be prolonged.
The case was reviewed by the Kentron and Nork Marash Administrative Court which also found Ararat not guilty of the assault due to AIDS related “weak mindedness”. The court also ruled that Ararat be discharged from the Sovetashen Correctional Facility and be admitted to a psychiatric ward for mandatory treatment. The ruling failed to specify the duration of such treatment.
The Tchagharyan family holds Russian citizenship. While Ararat is thus not eligible for free AIDS treatment in Armenia, his mother requested as much from the Ministry of Health. In response, the Ministry granted the family an exemption and issued an order so that Ararat could receive free care at the Ministry’s “AIDS Prevention Center”. The Ministry added that given the mandatory nature of the treatment, it would be the responsibility of the Avan Psychiatric Clinic to see to it that Ararat also being treated for AIDS.
Ararat has been lying in a bed in the Avan Clinic for the past two months. He hasn’t been receiving any psychiatric care, let alone treatment for AIDS.
“I went to the clinic director and asked him why my son was being held there if he isn’t being treated for anything. The director merely responded that it was the decision of the court,” says Ofelia Tchagharyan.
She’s thoroughly disillusioned with the health and legal system in Armenia. Now, all she wants is to get her son out of the clinic so that she can arrange for proper care.
“I’ll sell the house and my wedding ring. I’ll work and save. Just let me take care of my son, she says.
Ararat’s parents have appealed the court decision but the Court of Appeals has yet to review the case. The case was to have been heard on August 6, but was delayed till the 21.
In the meantime, Ararat lies in a bed in the Avan Psychiatric Ward and waits...