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Armenian Activist Faces Jail After Uncovering Alleged Abuse

Mariam Sukhudian
Mariam Sukhudian
A young civic activist is facing criminal proceedings and the possibility of two years’ imprisonment for helping to trigger a scandal about alleged sexual and other abuse at a Yerevan school for children with special needs, RFE/RL’s Armenian Service reports.

Armenian police formally charged Mariam Sukhudian of the environment protection group SOS Teghut with “false denunciation” on August 15.

Sukhudian worked as part of a group of volunteers at Boarding School No. 11 in Yerevan’s Nubarashen suburb from April-June 2008.

The volunteers later accused the school administration of failing to ensure the minimal standards of teaching and hygiene and of the routine ill-treatment of students, including underfeeding.

The statement also cited some schoolgirls as alleging sexual harassment by a teacher. They videotaped one of those girls and alerted Armenian media to her claims.

A police inquiry cleared school personnel of any wrongdoing in February.

Sukhudian was summoned to the police department of the Nubarashen and Erebuni districts and charged under an article of the Armenian Criminal Code dealing with “false denunciation.”

Sukhudian rejects the accusations against her, linking the extraordinary criminal case with her nongovernmental organization’s opposition to regional mining interests.