Tuesday, 25 September

Targeted Robberies? Yezidi Couples Demand Their Assailants Be Brought to Justice

When Tarlan Saydoyan opened the door to her house one early morning in October of last year, she was confronted by masked assailants. One of them hit Tarlan; knocking her down.

Coming to his wife’s aid, Shirin Aliyan, was also struck. The robbers then proceeded to tie up the couple, beating them in order to find out where they kept their cash and gold.

Shirin, realizing the robbers would stop at nothing, handed over a key to the upper floor and told the three marauders that the valuables were there. The gang tore the place apart but finding nothing they continued to beat the couple and turned on the TV to muffle their cries.

The gang got away with 20,000 Euros from the house located in Yerevan’s Silikyan neighborhood.

Tarlan Saydoyan and Shirin Aliyan outside their house

The Yezidi couple believe their case is being held up on purpose. They claim they know who robbed and beat them. Tarlan says that one of the masked assailants was a Yezidi because he let slip out some of the language.

Shirin Aliyan says she recognized an in-law named Tahar in the gang. Shirin says she was convinced of his identity after watching some video tape at the police station showing the car used in the robbery depart from near the Armenia Medical Center in Yerevan. Police at the station told the couple that five individuals were in the gang and that two probably stayed in the car during the robbery.

Their house in Yerevan’s Silikyan neighborhood

Tarlan says that the cops picked up Tahar three days after the incident, but then let him go.  Tarlan says that Tahar was released because he was a good friend with a certain prosecutor named Grigoryan.

Armenia’s Investigative Committee told Hetq that it couldn’t divulge any details about the ongoing case, only saying that they were tracking down some leads and that the investigation would be thorough.

On December 4, 2015, some six weeks after this Silikyan neighborhood house was robbed, scores of Yezidis, whose houses had also been robbed, staged a protest outside the presidential palace in Yerevan demanding that investigations into their cases finally track down the culprits.

One of the protesters that day was Mraz Kocharyan, a resident of Etchmiadzin, who was also robbed and beaten back in 2013. Armavir Province investigators dropped the case four months after the incident after making no headway. Ever since, Kocharyan has written to the president, police chief and prosecutor general demanding justice.

On the day of the protest, government officials suggested that Kocharyan send a petition to the presidential chief of staff. Kocharyan refused, arguing that nothing had been done over the past two years and it was senseless to draft another petition.

The Kocharyans, unlike the Tarlan and Shirin, didn’t recognize their attackers. They are convinced, however, that the assailants knew their daily schedule since they arrived when only Mraz and his wife Seyran were at home.

Mraz Kocharyan says that three masked individuals entered the house through an open door and proceeded to savagely beat him and his wife. The assailants fled with jewelry and some two million AMD.

The Kocharyans say their attackers made several telephone calls during the robbery and that the calls can be traced.

Mraz Kocharyan and wife Seyran Djalilyan

“I don’t say they were Armenian, Turks, Yezidis or even Georgians. I don’t care what nationality they were. They could even be my brother. Just catch them and let them face justice,” says Mraz Kocharyan.

Three of the Kocharyans’ four sons now live in France. Yurik, the fourth son, and his family, lives with his parents. After the robbery, everyone is on edge and watchful. Yurik says all the doors are locked after 8 p.m.

So, are there any similarities linking the two robberies?

In both cases the couples were tied up using pieces of ripped sheets. Their attackers also threatened to kill them, and the women who were robbed say their assailants threatened to cut off their ears to get their earrings.

Both couples don’t believe that the Yezidi community in Armenia is being targeted for robbery.

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