Sefilian in Yerevan, 2009
|Native name||Ժիրայր Սեֆիլեան|
|Born||10 July 1967(age 55)|
|Place of birth||Beirut, Lebanon|
|Service/branch||Armed Forces of Armenia|
|Years of service||1990—1994|
Shushi Military Company|
NKR Defense Army Brigade
Lebanese Civil War|
Capture of Shusha
Jirair Sefilian (Armenian language: Ժիրայր Սեֆիլեան (traditional), Ժիրայր Սեֆիլյան (reformed)
- born 10 July 1967) is a Lebanese-born Armenian military commander and political activist.
Sefilian graduated from the Kevork Chatalbashian College in Beirut. During the Lebanese Civil War, he took part in the defense of the Armenian quarters of Beirut (mainly Bourj Hammoud).
In 1990, with the purpose of participating in the Karabakh (Artsakh) movement he was sent to Armenia by the ARF (Dashnaktsutyun), Sefilian moved to Armenia with his family. As a military instructor, he was involved in the formation of self-defense units in Karabakh and Syunik. In 1991, as a military detachment commander, Sefilian took part in the defense of several districts of Nagorno-Karabakh. In 1992 he was chosen by the A.R.F to be the commander of the Shushi special military company, playing a significant role during the Battle of Shusha.
Following the Nagorno-Karabakh War, in 1997-1998 he was the NKR Defense Army Brigade Commander. Sefilian was awarded with the First Degree Order of the Combat Cross (“Martakan Khach”). He is an army lieutenant-colonel of the Republic of Armenia. Since 2001, Sefilian has been coordinating the activities of the public initiative group, "Liberated territories".
Sefilian and Vartan Malkhasian, the leaders of opposition group called the Alliance of Armenian Volunteers, were arrested in 2006. Human rights observers charged the arrest was politically motivated and that authorities used the controversial article of the Criminal Code to intimidate the opposition. Ombudsman of Armenia Armen Harutyunyan also condemned Sefilian's and his friends' arrest and marked that Sefilian, Vartan Malkhasian, and Vahan Aroyan "didnt break the judicial legislation".
Imprisonment and release
On 6 August 2007, Judge Mnatsakan Martirosyan of the Kentron and Nork-Marash Court of First Instance found Sefilian not guilty of violating Article 301 of the Republic of Armenia Criminal Code (issuing anti-constitutional statements), but found him guilty of violating the first section of Article 235 of the Criminal Code (illegal possession of a weapon) and sentenced him to 1.5 years imprisonment.
Sefilian has claimed his innocence and that no crime has been committed on his part: "This is not a court, this is a theater. Even the biggest supporter of the government cannot show evidence of corpus delicti in our actions. This is all an order. The NSS is working to the gain of two people (Robert Kocharyan and Serge Sargsyan). All those who had something to do with this case will eventually answer for it. The famous pair is foolishly trying to punish me and to scare the people. My dear people, we must not fear this anti-Armenian regime, we must struggle against it. This amoral regime is not powerful, we are powerful."
Sefilian completed his 18-month sentence on 9 June 2008 and was subsequently released from prison. He was greeted by hundreds of Armenians who came "to congratulate the hero on his liberty". However, Sefilian continues to face the threat of deportation from Armenia since May 2008 and has since begun seeking political asylum and citizenship in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. As of May 2008, Sefilian has been denied Armenian citizenship.
In his letters and announcements made from the prison, Jirair Sefilian supported former Armenian president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan despite ideological differences with the latter, but later (in 2009) he criticized Ter-Petrossian's views on Armenia-Azerbaijan and Armenia-Turkey relations and suggested him to left the all-Armenian people's movement. On 30 October 2008, Sefilian alongside intellectuals and a group of prominent activists founded the Miatsum (Unification) National Initiative which campaigns against Armenian territorial concessions to Azerbaijan over the Karabakh dispute.
In 2009, together with Tigran Khzmalyan and Alexander Yenikomshian founded the Sardarapat Movement.
- Armenia: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2007, Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 11, 2008
- Armen Harutyunyan's interview, Azg Armenian daily, 2007
- Jirair is a real Man, Azg daily, #040, 03/03/2007
- "Sefilyan, Malkhasyan and Aroyan convicted", Hetq Online - Investigative Journalists of Armenia, August 6, 2007.
- Freed from prison: But is Lebanese-born Karabakh war hero free to stay in Armenia?
- Jirayr Sefilian at Liberty, Azg Armenian Daily, #109, 10/06/2008
- "Nanur Sefilyan - 'Armenia is our motherland which no force can snatch from us'", Hetq Online - Investigative Journalists of Armenia, May 12, 2008.
- New Armenian Group Demands Hard Line On Karabakh
- Interview with Jirair Sefilian// Cdaily.am, 19.11.09
- (Armenian) "Սերժ Սարգսյանը և Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանը ոչ մի լուրջ ներդրում չեն ունեցել Արցախյան պատերազմում. Ժիրայր Սեֆիլյան". 8 May 2013. http://www.tert.am/am/news/2013/05/08/gharabagh-war-sefilyan/%D5%8D%D5%A5%D6%80%D5%AA. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- Azadakrum (Liberation) movement
- "INTERVIEW WITH JIRAYR SEFILYAN", A1+, March 22, 2007.
- Zhirayr Sefilian Released
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