The calling of modern writer Hovhannes Ishkhanyan to Military and Central Department of Yerevan Police, the interrogation and the disappearing of his book “The day of dismiss” from bookshops Armenian writers consider to be a censorship.
24-year-old Ishkhanyan published “The day of dismiss” in spring of 2011 with 300 copies of which 120 copies were already sold. It contains 16 short stories three of which are about army and are entirely made-up. The stories represent the army life and there are some parts of open scenes.
The book was published, a presentation was organized in “Bureaucrat” bookshop, the stories were reprinted in various blogs but it seems that the employees of the RA Military Police found out about it after 9 months and decided to interrogate the author of those stories.
After the interrogations “Bureaucrat” bookshop stopped selling the books without giving any reasons. Now the book is available only in “Artbridge” café-bookshop the employee of which told www.hra.am that they were not going to remove the book from sale.
They called Ishkhanyan to the police by phone on February 26 saying they only wanted to clarify some facts about some stories of “The day of dismiss”.
Hovhannes Ishkhanyan explained Colonel Khachatryan that there could not be facts in the book as the contents does not correspond to reality and, nevertheless, he gave a written explanation to the policemen.
The officer of the Military Police, lawyer Anahit Yesayan told www.armenianow.com that according to them Ishkhanyan’s stories distort the reality and the rude words discredit the RA Armed Forces, insult the religion and Armenian mothers:
“I did not make a stir thinking they would not call me and everything would smooth down but they did not calm down and transferred the case to the Central Department of Yerevan police and I was called there and asked the same questions and I wrote the same. First they raised the question of the army then they understood they couldn’t subject me to any liability and now they say that my works contain pornographic scenes and they have applied to the Ministry of Culture to expertise my works” Ishkhanyan told us.
The only article by which they can bring a criminal case against the young writer is Article 263 of the RA Criminal Code which punishes those who expand pornographic materials or photos through penalty or two months or maximum two years imprisonment. But Ishkhanyan’s advocate Robert Revazyan is sure this Article is not realistic as it does not apply to literary works.
Shoghik Asoyan, the head of “The Experimental Center of Cultural values” SNCO of the RA Ministry of Culture, supported Revazyan’s words. She told www.hra.am that they answered the police a few days ago that in Armenia only the cases which are 75 years old are subjected to expertise and they do not carry out such a function in terms of modern cases on the basis of 1471decisions made in 2011, 630 made in 2005 and 245 made in 2004 by the RA Government.
“Besides, it is not clear why he was called to the interrogation without a notice if he is neither a defendant nor a suspect. On the day of the interrogation they give a notice where it is written you will be forced on. They do not have the right to do so from the legal point of view” argues Robert Revazyan.
Ishkhanyan is sure that he is being prosecuted as he touched upon army topics.
The modern Armenian writers made a statement and organized a signature collecting by which they support Ishkhanyan and criticize the police. One of the modern writers Armen Ohanyan is concerned that in case of bringing a criminal case this problem can become a precedent and a threat for all writers.
“I think Hovhannes has written a quite successful book and such literature is praiseworthy as an alternative literature” said Ohnayan to www.hra.am.
One of the writers Marine Petrosyan thinks that all the writers should be concerned no matter with which style they write.
“We have discussed “The day of Dismiss” story and found out that it is written in a genre of magical realism that is there are no factual data and most of the Latin American writers write in such a way as well as 90 percent of Armenian modern writers. So will everyone be subjected to criminal liability?” raises a question M. Petrosyan.
Ishkhanyan is sure that this way the police will have the opposite result as the writers will start to oppose and will write more on these topics.
The RA Police still keeps a silence. Hovhannes Ishkhanyan was only told that a criminal action was not brought. That is although it is impossible to bring a case from the legal point of view the police does not exclude it.
Hovhannes Ishkhanyan’s photo by Sona Barseghyan