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Jirair Sefilian
Sefilian in Yerevan, 2009
Native name Ժիրայր Սեֆիլեան
Born 10 July 1967(1967-07-10) (age 55)
Place of birth Beirut, Lebanon
Allegiance  Armenia
 Nagorno-Karabakh
Service/branch Armed Forces of Armenia
Years of service 1990—1994
Rank Lieutenant colonel
Commands held Shushi Military Company
NKR Defense Army Brigade
Battles/wars Lebanese Civil War
Nagorno-Karabakh War
Capture of Shusha
Awards
  • Order of the Combat Cross (1st degree)

Jirair Sefilian (Armenian language: Ժիրայր Սեֆիլեան (traditional), Ժիրայր Սեֆիլյան (reformed)

born 10 July 1967) is a Lebanese-born Armenian military commander and political activist.

Biography

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.[1] 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".[2]

According to Bulgarian journalist, colonel Svetana Paskaleva, "Jirair is one of the living icons I knew - Bekor, Monte, Samvel Babayan... I'm happy that I know him"![3]

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.[4]

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."[4]

Citizenship issue

Sefilian completed his 18-month sentence on 9 June 2008 and was subsequently released from prison.[5] He was greeted by hundreds of Armenians who came "to congratulate the hero on his liberty".[6] 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.[7]

Political views

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,[8] 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.[9] 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.[8]

On 8 May 2013, Sefilian stated in an interview that Serzh Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan had very little role in the Nagorno-Karabakh War and accused them of corruption.[10]

Sardaprapat Movement

In 2009, together with Tigran Khzmalyan and Alexander Yenikomshian founded the Sardarapat Movement.

Sources

External links

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