The present study analyzed media publications containing viewpoints and comments on religion and religious organizations.
Our organization’s website – www.religions.am2– served as a source of media materials. The site contains Armenian media publications on religion, selected from newspapers with online versions and websites with circulation or number of daily visitors exceeding 2,000. In the period between January 31 and December 31, 2010, we examined around 800 materials collected in the Press Monitoring section of the www.religions.am website.
We did not focus on quantitative data in the study. Our goal was to identify the motives behind publications containing religious intolerance, discrimination or hatred, as well as the values and worldview of their authors. In order to achieve this goal, we examined articles where the negative attitude towards different religious groups was explained or argumented. For this reason, we have included some extensive quotes in our study, which we find to be useful for understanding the reasons for the current religious hatred in Armenia. In some cases, we did not include our comments, because some publications provide complete answers about the authors’ views on religious issues or the particular media outlet’s policy.
This material may be useful not only for those who study religious issues, but also for understanding the worldview of the Armenian media, which is reflected in their coverage of political and other important social issues as well.
The incitement of religious hatred and intolerance is prohibited by Article 24 of the RA Law on Television and Radio, according to which: “it is forbidden to use television and radio programs for … b) inciting ethnic, racial or religious hatred or divisions.” In practice, one can find many articles in the media containing religious hatred. However, the authors of this study are not aware of any cases of the writers of these articles ever being prosecuted by the relevant authorities for such publications.
Freedom of conscience is also covered in Articles 8.13, 264, 14.15, 276 and 287 of the RA Constitution.
The Criminal Code describes the following crimes against freedom of conscience and religions: “Obstructing the exercise of the freedom of conscience and religion” (Article 160), “Creating or leading groups that encroach on citizens’ rights or against individuals” (Article 162), “Inciting national, racial or religious hatred” (Article 226).
In addition, Article 63 of the current Criminal Code lists the “committal of a crime because of national, racial or religious hatred, religious fanaticism or as a revenge for other people’s lawful actions” among circumstances that aggravate the crime and the relevant punishment.
Even though no monitoring of television programs was conducted as part of this study, one can often hear expressions full of hatred, arrogance and humiliation against religious organizations.
On February 15, 2010, the National Commission for Television and Radio (NCTR) adopted its decision N 1-N on “criteria for television programs of erotic nature, films containing horrors and obvious violence, as well as programs that negatively affect the health, mental and physical development and education of minors.” The decisions lists the relevant criteria. Paragraph (b) of the decision talks about programs that “denigrate and discredit the national church and the values it advocates.” It is not clear what a decision on erotic programs has to do with religious issues, but the fact remains that this decision effectively bans any program that questions the “national church,” regardless of whether this is related to the church’s theological views, its historic role or “the values it advocates” in any other area of life. However, there are no “criteria” at all for other religious organizations.
State Officials’ Approach to Religious Issues and New Approaches in Public Discourse
Our observations indicate that the trend towards restricting the religious freedoms has become systemic in the last two years. While in the previous years religious intolerance was not considered to be a part of the government’s policy, there are grounds to believe that the government is now engaged in such a policy. Such assumptions are based on legal initiatives of the RA Government, public statements of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education, the situation in educational institutions, the reporting policy of television companies under government’s control, as well as the lack of reaction on the part of law enforcement agencies to obvious cases of religious discrimination. All of this is evidenced in the study of “Religious Tolerance in Armenia”8 carried out by our organization, where we described the legal framework related to religion and the situation with religious freedom in various sectors. One can also remember the RA Prime Minister’s words reported by “Azg” daily in September 2009: “It is noteworthy that the prime minister has stated that the notion of separation of church and state is old-fashioned. “If we are the church, how and at what point should I separate the Christian man in me?””9
The chief of the RA police has stated openly that we should fight against “sectarians.” “We should fight not only against emos, but also against sectarian movements in general, because they have caused serious moral harm to our people.”10
www.panorama.am website informs about a new initiative by the RA Ministry of Education: “For seven years already, the Armenian Apostolic Church and the RA Ministry of Education have been organizing competitions of teachers of history of the Armenian Church, Armenian language and literature, Armenian history and natural sciences (physics, chemistry and biology). The Ministry of Education reported that the awards ceremony for the winners of the 2010 competition took place in the Holy See of Echmiadzin today.” Then the publication presents quotes from the Minister’s speech. “Our Constitution recognizes the exceptional role of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the preservation of national identify, spiritual and cultural upbringing, whereas national identity is a way of thinking, which makes you in tune with civilization elements that are characteristic of your nation. Who could do this better than the church?” the RA Minister of Education and Science, Armen Ashotyan, stated in his speech. The Minister emphasized the importance of the church-education-army cooperation and stated that there is no education and no army without church, and that this cooperation is becoming more developed day after day, because “the Armenian school has been created around spiritual values, and the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church has always been the protector and supporter of the Armenian school.”11
In a meeting with chairpersons of student councils of various universities, the RA Minister of Education and Science stated: “Students must return to the church. Church is an institution that you have to work with and for which you have to work.”12
According to Article 4, paragraph 3 of the RA Law on Education, “The educational system of the Republic of Armenia shall be aimed at strengthening the spiritual and intellectual potential of the Armenian people, preservation and development of national and universal human values. The Armenian Church shall contribute to this goal.” Article 5, paragraph 6 (“Principles of State Policy in the Area of Education”) of the same law states that educational institutions are to provide secular education. Therefore, the Minister is essentially questioning the legal requirement for education to be secular.
On the other hand, civic values are becoming more influential in Armenia, which results in the Armenian Apostolic Church being regarded not only as a national-traditional, but also as a social-political institution, unlike other religious organization (which is the main point in the promotion of religious intolerance in Armenia).
“There is a sad situation in many Christian churches and organizations today, where church leaders (catholicoses, archbishops, bishops and other clergymen) have established or are trying to establish strong authoritarian rule over their members. Even though many of these leaders pursue good goals, this authoritarianism is often based on their thirst of power and control. These leaders rationalize and support such behavior under the guise of love and pastoral care. Of course, the Bible gives certain spiritual authority to church leaders, but this authority is abused extremely frequently by going beyond the boundaries set out in the Holy Scripture.”13
“Armenians are not Christian. Armenians have nothing to do with Christianity: here we have already a second substitution of the concept, because very often we replace the Christian system with the system of church rituals. Christianity is a set of inner moral norms that does not allow a person to do certain things and that this person takes into the society. How much does the “you shall not steal” commandment work in our society, when the real commandment is “you shall steal,” while another commandment is “you shall kill?”What kind of Christianity are we talking about after all this? We have taken the ritualistic part of the phenomenon, just the way we took the ceremonial part of statehood. Since the state does not have a law enforcement spine, it establishes a ritualistic spine, i.e. a “church model.”14
As a result, both the public perception of the official church and the society’s expectations of the church (as well as other religious organizations) change. This means that the church and other religious organizations are evaluated not only on the basis of the traditional understanding, but also based on their specific role and approaches towards issues that are important for democracy and public life. As a result, civil society representatives and experts start treating the issue of freedom of conscience from the point of view of political values. On the other hand, various religious organizations have developed civic positions on issues of concern to the society, which was not the case in the recent past. This is evidenced by the religious organizations’ public stance on a number of civic initiatives (changes in the law on language, construction of a church on the site of Moscow Cinema, environmental issues, etc.). In other words, civil society started developing its attitudes towards specific religious organizations based on their positions on issues of public importance.
Former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan has stated: “As for the government, they create some altars in the government building, they pray there. The Prime Minister appears on television with some pastors. Strange things are happening, this is very serious. Religion and government have completely mixed with each other.” According to Bagratyan, normally it’s considered that religion cannot be separated from the state in Islamic countries. “Now they [the government] cannot do anything, they have clung to the church and are involving it in everything. As if the church has played an important role in our history… Have you ever seen the balance sheet of the Armenian Apostolic Church published in the press? Where does the money come from? Who determines the price of candles? This is called shadow economy. There were times when the Armenian Apostolic Church had enlightened people in it, some progressive individuals, but mostly they are reactionaries. It is not a coincidence that every Turkish sultan or Persian shah gave a few awards/honorary titles to Armenian catholicoses as soon as he came to power. We don’t like to talk about this. And now we claim it is a progressive institution and, on top of everything, it has entered the government,” said the former Prime Minister.15
Unlike in electronic (broadcast) media, one can find some articles in the printed press and online publications that are highly critical of the Armenian Apostolic Church, in particular in www.1in.am,www.7or.am, www.lragir.am websites and in “Zhamanak,” “Hraparak,” “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” and “Haykakan Zhamanak” newspapers. Our studies show that articles calling for religious hatred and discrimination, as well as articles with biased coverage, can be found more frequently in “Aravot,” “Iravunk,” “168 Zham”, “Hayos Ashkharh” and “Azg” newspapers, and in “Golos Armenii” and “Novaya Gazeta” Russian-language newspapers.
Speculations with the Terms “Sect” and “Soul-Hunting,” and Intertwining of Religious and National Belonging
The promotion of religious intolerance in Armenia is mainly based on two terms – “sects” and “soul-hunting.” These terms have a peculiar connotation in Armenia, and they can explain the reasons for religious intolerance. Calls for religious intolerance are based mainly on the identification of “nation” and the “Armenian Apostolic Church”16, which means that such calls are meant to “save” the nation from a “split,” which is a matter of “national security” or “spiritual security.” Television and press often voice the thought that all religious organizations in Armenia (referred to as “sects”), except AAC, “conspire” against the Armenian nation, and therefore we should fight against them with all available means.
An editorial written by the editor-in-chief of “Aravot” daily, considered a liberal newspaper, reads: “We usually talk about conspiracy theories with disparagement, and we ridicule them as products of people’s imagination. In the past, people believed that some devils and evils interfere with our lives, and now these legends have been replaced with ideas of secret organizations, used by people to complicate regular and sometimes even coincidental events. This view of such philistine gossip is, obviously, correct. In particular, Armenians are fond of creating such legends about Jews, in the spirit of the Russian “Black Hundreds” reactionaries of the beginning of the 20th century. However, it would be unwise to deny completely the existence of some unknown groups that implement certain programs in our country, in particular. “If you have paranoia, it doesn’t mean no one is following you,” an American researcher once said.” Then the editor-in-chief adds: “What are these sects doing in our country? The answer to this question seems simple from the first glance only. Yes, they take advantage of our people’s difficult social-economic situation and pull our compatriots towards them. While the authorities give out voter bribes, the sects give out so-called “religious bribes.” Of course, this reality is terrible, but this is only the visible part of the sects’ activities. A friend of mine, who doesn’t usually let his imagination lose, recently told me a story that shows the great extent of the sects’ influence on the highest “echelons” of our political and economic elite. Unfortunately, I cannot publish that story right now; instead, I have started to believe not in conspiracy theories, but in conspiracies. In any case, I am confident that the reasons for the flourishing of religious organizations in 1998-2008 are not only social.”17
Following the March 1, 2008 events, some pro-government media outlets have been trying to explain the opposition’s activeness by the activeness of “sectarian” organizations: In particular, such articles were published in “Golos Armenii” and “Novoye Vremya” Russian-language newspapers and in “Hayots Ashkharh,”18 but the authors of these articles never presented any evidence. The same idea is developed further by Aravot’s editor-in-chief in the same editorial article: “On April 9, 1989, the Soviet Army attacked protesters in Tbilisi, killing at least 19 people. Several days after this event, when a central television reporter asked a famous Georgian writer, Chabua Amirajebi, who benefited from the massacre, the latter’s answer was short: “Satan.” Today, in the light of the March 1 events, I tend to think that Amirajebi’s words were not a mere writer’s metaphor.”19
The following is what Vilen Hakobyan, an academic secretary of the natural sciences division of the RA National Academy of Sciences, replied to the critics of the Armenian Apostolic Church in his open letter published in the pro-government “Hayots Ashkharh” daily: “With an unprecedented disregard to morality and national character, they spread the most terrible slander against Holy Echmiadzin and the Armenian Catholicos by intentionally distorting His Holiness’s activities aimed at establishing national accord. ... The whole Muslim world was up in arms when there was an insignificant encroachment on their faith, and the consequences could have been quite serious if it weren’t for some respected countries-mediators. False propaganda is destructive for the humankind and is unforgettable….
Throughout the millennia, in all the critical moments for Armenia, when the security of the Armenian nation was threatened, the nation’s unifying spirit, lead by the Armenian Apostolic Church and its leaders, has played a decisive role, because we were deprived of statehood for hundreds of years…. The church and its leaders have been and remain the symbol of the Armenian nation’s existence. The language and the cross, love and faith – this is how we survived for long and difficult centuries.”20
The main motivation of those, who speak against religious organizations or “sects”, stems from the identification of “nation” and “faith.” None of the articles criticizing the “sects” contained any theological or faith-related arguments. The main reason for criticism was the split in “national unity.”
Pastor Asoghik, Director of Museums and Archives of the Holy See of Echmiadzin, characterized the nation-church ties as follows: “We must not forget the historical truths confirmed by our forefathers centuries ago. Yeghishe said that the gospel was our father and the church was our mother; if we scratch our skin, church will appear underneath it, because faith and religion have become one with our essence, they have become the color of our skin. It is not right to disorient our society and to split it like this, to turn the church into another body. This means to deprive the nation and the people of its identity.”21
Here is how the editor-in-chief of Iravunk newspaper covered a presentation of a study on freedom of religion: “Exactly a week ago a study on “Freedom of Religion in Armenia” was presented in Congress Hotel. The study was carried out by the Helsinki Committee of Armenia. To be honest, this was the first time I saw so many top leaders of sectarian organizations gathered in one place. If you put aside the reporters and a few participants with traditional orientation, then, as Russians would say, everyone was there and the only thing missing was a fuel tank.” The author explained this viewpoint as follows: “Today, various human rights organizations, the so-called international community and others are focused on the protection of religions minorities; moreover, most protection is given to those, who are especially aggressive and anti-national.” Then the editor-in-chief made the following legislative proposal on behalf of the Constitutional Rights Union political party, as one of its members: “The Constitutional Rights Union has suggested a simple mechanism of legalizing the activities of only those religions organizations, whose spiritual centers are located in Armenia. Others should be given time to bring themselves in compliance with this requirement. The Armenian Apostolic Church and the Aryan Order22 are the only two organizations to meet that requirement today. One of them has accompanied us constantly during 17 centuries of our history, while the other reflects traditions and mentality that come from the depth of millennia. However, it is a shame that Armenian Catholics have existed for a thousand years, but they have not become independent of the Vatican, and their spiritual shepherd is simply one of Pope’s subordinates.” The article concluded with the following statement: “Another interesting thing is that, according to sectarians and their defenders, the media and journalists in our country are the biggest enemies of the freedom of religion. They called us all sorts of things – slanderers, ignorant people, promoters of discrimination… It is interesting that homosexuals and their defenders are saying the same things about us. These two destructive minorities are trying to force their “tolerant” terminology on the media. Gays want to prohibit the use of certain words they find offensive, while sectarians want to refrain from using the words like “sects” and “soul-hunting.” If we let them have their way, they will take advantage of us. In any case, having listened to so much abuse from defenders of the sects, I started thinking more highly of my colleagues. The fact that they dislike us so much means that we are doing a lot of work, because, as one of the freedom fighters said in 1992, “the greatness of your work is measured by the level of hatred on the part of your enemy.””23
The civic movement against the government’s decision to demolish the Moscow cinema summer hall and build a new church on the site of the church that was destroyed in the Soviet times prompted a lot of discussions in the media. Other religious organizations in Armenia did not get involved in the discussions. However, the editor-in-chief of “Azg” daily saw the influence of sectarians here as well. “We should have spared ourselves this confrontation. No one can benefit from this except our enemies, i.e. the sectarians who work like moles. In other words, this will damage all of us, both our national church and our society.
Obviously, there is no need to explain that I mean the construction of St. Poghos-Petros church, blown up in 1923-26, on its former site, instead of the Moscow cinema summer hall.”24
Some noteworthy views were expressed by the participants of a discussion organized by the Russian-language “Golos Armenii” newspaper. An article entitled “Divide and Conquer” and published under the heading of “The Enemy is Here Already” is devoted to “sectarians.” This is how the newspaper introduced the purpose of the discussion: “The danger of these influences is still not taken very seriously on the state level. No relevant measures are being taken. Schools and universities do not get involved in the proper upbringing of the young people. Yerevan State University and the Slavic University were unable to select appropriate participants for this discussion.”25
Then the article presents the views of the participants of the discussion. Father Shmavon, pastor of Saint Hovhannes church said: “Sects and informal organizations penetrated Armenia, taking advantage of democratic freedoms. These are backed by destructive forces who target the youth with their activities. Their real goal is to dissolve the national unity, weaken the nation’s moral and spiritual foundations and decrease the level of our state’s security. The destructive forces are persistent and active, and they employ illegal means to influence the conscience. The seriousness of this influence is still not taken seriously on the state level. No relevant measures are being taken. Schools and universities do not get involved in the proper upbringing of the young people. Neither Yerevan State University nor Slavonic University could find appropriate people to participate in this round-table discussion of the young people’s spiritual and moral issues, organized by our newspaper.”26 Then, Father Shmavon continues as follows: “They are used for corroding our national security. Our state must think very seriously about the future of Armenia. We are no longer a people with a common faith. What is taking place is an extremely dangerous process of turning a unified nation into people in a state of spiritual conflict. It is not an accident that we have reached this result. One should not have any illusions in connection with sectarians. It is not a matter of one believing in one thing and the other one believing in something else… All destructive sects and movements have one goal, that is to split the nation and to corrode the national awareness. We are all trying to become Europeans, but we forget that Europe is fighting against the idea of nation-states and national identify. These are considered to be manifestations of fascism. One glance at the situation in Europe is enough to start thinking seriously about the danger of these European ideals. Do we really need same-sex families and other such manifestations of democracy? Armenians have survived thanks to the same national traditions and values that are now being consistently destroyed by outside forces. We accept these destructive notions, thinking of them as the real European values. Look at the powerful pressure that is being put on the educational system.
Actively introduced are Western teaching methods that turn students and teachers into morons. I have read the results of a study conducted among American school pupils. 70% of them said that the Earth is flat, some said it was round but they weren’t sure if it revolves around the Sun. Is this what we want? As a result of introducing these European values, our society has become more friendly towards homosexuals, whereas it used to have a very bad attitude towards them before. Laws are passed not by the church, but by the state, which takes these dangerous phenomena very lightly.”27
Alexander Amaryan, head of the “Support and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Destructive Cults,” said: “I am a former military serviceman, I used to work for special services, and I have been through special training. Recently, I saw a Jehovah’s Witnesses manual on how to work with the public. Jehovah’s Witnesses’ recruitment methods are the same as the ones used by special services in the 80s. There are 50 foreigners working for the Mormons. Having worked for a certain period of time here, they join special services. Mormons are lead by career military men. For some reason, the second in charge in the Mormon organization must be a US embassy employee. However, no one talks about this. Evangelists also boast about their ties with the US embassy. Sects will prosper for as long as there is no complete information about their activities. Today, we as a nation are oriented towards Europe without even thinking about all the negative consequences for our nation. Europe, which has found itself facing numerous problems, is trying to dictate ideas to us that are completely unpromising in our conditions. If introduced, these ideas would have serious negative consequences, including psychiatric.”
Karine Nalchajyan (PhD in Psychology) suggested the following ways to fight against “sects.” “The fight against sects and destructive movements, the solution to young people’s psychological and spiritual problems requires a consolidation of all the healthy forces in our society.
We need to revive the national values that have been lost over the last twenty years, and to address the problems of the education sector. It is well known that there is a close link between morality and educational system. A highly intellectual person is highly unlikely to end up in a sect or become a follower of a destructive movement.
At the same time, it must be said that sects are working very well, using scientific progress and effective recruitment methods. However, their success among young people has to do with the drop in the level of education and the lack of healthy guidance and patriotic feelings.
As was mentioned before, sectarians do not have the notion of compatriots. Only members of the same sect are considered their brothers and sisters.”28
Incitement of Hatred Towards Members of Unofficial Religions Organizations in Armenia, Creation of the Image of Enemy
In May, media started publishing articles against the “emo” youth movement. According to some estimates, there are dozens (or more than a hundred, according to some) of schoolchildren in Armenia who can be considered members of the movement. In any case, there have been dozens of articles and television programs on this subject, where they first introduce the movement, but it is still not clear for the general public who these “emos” are and what danger do they pose for the society. It is characteristic that these articles, having talked about the dangers posed by “emos,” then move on to “sects,” and this danger is generalized and extended to religious organizations. The main danger of “emos” is their “tendency” towards suicide. However, none of the articles has ever cited any specific case of “emo” suicides. The articles simply voice a concern that “such suicides are not solved.”
“The destructive emo movement has already penetrated Armenian schools, cultural-educational institutions and public life a long time ago...
Emo youngsters, many of whom attempt suicides from time to time, are told “to plan their suicide step by step.” It is known that many of these suicide attempts end with a tragedy. However, suicides remain unsolved in Armenia.
One of the most dangerous Western movements to have entered Armenia in the recent years is the emo movement, which is new to us but is well-known in European countries and in Russia. Particularly in the capital city, one can see groups of young people who are extremely different from their peers in their dress, hairstyle, makeup and behavior. It is not a secret that the youth environment in our country is chock-full of groups adhering to philosophies of different movements – sects, Satanists, homosexuals, sadists, punks, etc. It is also well-known that the number of suicides among young people has gone up in the recent years, and these suicides remain unsolved and shrouded in mystery.”29
“RA citizens have reacted to our recent publication entitled “Alert: Emos Drive Young People to Suicide.” 30 As a rule, such “reactions” are anonymous, which is typical for many television programs and articles talking about religiously motivated “suicides.” “Those who have committed a suicide” are also anonymous.”
The next article published by “168 Zham” newspaper has a terrifying headline: “Satan is in Town.” The article warns the public: “This photo gives only a superficial idea of a terrible phenomenon that has plagued a significant number of our young people since some time. This “emo” movement, which is close to Satanist philosophy and which many people do not take seriously, has spread among young people to such an extent that it may turn into a real spiritual and physical disaster for our country with small population.”31
“It’s obvious that, in this case, we are dealing with a serious threat to society, which should be countered not only by law enforcement agencies, but also by the national security service and all other state organizations and the Armenian Apostolic Church.”32
The same newspaper published an interview with Alexander Amaryan, head of the “Support and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Destructive Cults,” under the headline of “The Power Structures Are Not Interested in Fighting Against Sects.” However, Amaryan does not explain why is it that the power structures do not want to fight against “sectarians” and what is the connection between “emos” and religious organizations.
“- Many suicides on religious grounds are taking place in Armenia. Another such suicide took place a few months ago, when a 12-year-old boy became a victim of the emo movement. The emo group is, in fact, considered to be the most dangerous of all the sectarian groups known to us. Before that, in 2004, a 12-year-old also committed a suicide on religious grounds, which was subsequently also qualified as a suicide for domestic reasons. Have any suicides on religious grounds been recorded in Armenia so far?
“- Crimes committed on religious grounds are qualified as crimes committed for domestic reasons, otherwise the registration of that particular religious organizations (if any) will be revoked. Of course, there have been no suicides on religious grounds recorded in our country, because we do not have the relevant specialists…”33
“- What are the so-called related reasons?
“- In general, law enforcement agencies would prefer to record any murder as a suicide. That way, the crime is solved quickly and there are less problems.
- Do you have any information on which sects are mainly responsible for suicides?
- One can say that suicides happen in all sects, except the Mormons. In the case of Mormons, suicides are more common abroad. Such religious organizations teach that suicides save people. “God gave you life, God took it away. In the case of a suicide, you reach God’s kingdom sooner,” – this is what they teach…»34
“- There are more victims among Satanists, aren’t there?
- There are no suicides among Satanists, they commit murders. It is true that they can disguise a murder as a suicide, but these are not suicides. We had one such case in Armenia, in 2003, when a jeweler was murdered. This was the first sentence of imprisonment for life. Satanists do not harm themselves. This happens only when one of the Satanists decides to leave the group.
- How many Satanists are in our country?
- There are about 1.5 thousand Satanists. Moreover, the Satanists’ “Bible” was translated in Yerevan State University.
- Do they have a specific meeting place?
- Of course, they do. For your own good, I will never tell you where they meet (he takes the recorder and looks at the watch. – M.M.)”35
No names, no places are mentioned in the cases presented as suicides. On the contrary, it is always mentioned that law enforcement agencies do not want to investigate suicide cases and it is not clear who decides if these suicides are on religious grounds.
The newspaper’s series on emos end with an interview describing the reasons for the “many suicides” committed by them”36
The same issue is raised by “Hayots Ashkharh” newspaper in an article entitled “Emos Are a Real Disaster.” “According to our observations, the number of suicide attempts by emos increases day after day.
It is against rules of ethics to talk about facts or mention specific names. In addition, we do not want to cause grief yet again to parents who have already lost their children. However, it is a fact that the number of such suicides is great and increasing. We are concerned that the emo movement has spread not only in Yerevan, but also in the marzes, where we have already had some suicides…
The spread of such a subculture among minors and young people is a real disaster, and we need to do everything we can to get rid of this phenomenon.”37
“Azg” daily is also concerned with this issue. It expressed its position on the issue in an article headlined “The “White Genocide” In Schools.” “Since 2004, some youth movements, which are not different from sects in any way, have been operating in the Armenian schools. Alexander Amaryan, head of the “Support and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Destructive Cults,” singles out particularly emos and goths. Children, who join these groups, become alienated from their families, friends, principles and ideas, and turn into zombies… There is also no statistics as to what percentage of suicides were committed on religious grounds.
400 suicides were committed in Armenia in 2006. According to World Health Organization, only 51 percent of all suicides are for domestic reasons, the remaining 49 percent are committed for unknown reasons. It is not ruled out that “unknown reasons” also refer to suicides committed on religious grounds.”38
www.lragir.am website presents official statistics on “emo suicides.” “Colonel Nelli Duryan, Deputy Head of the RA Police Criminal Intelligence 3rd Department, told reporters today that 13 minors have committed and 25 minors have attempted to commit a suicide in Armenia this year. To compare, last year, the total number of suicides and suicide attempts was 23. Nelli Duryan urged to refrain from drawing a link between the growing number of suicides among minors and the emo movement, which is often done in the Armenian media.”39
“Azg” daily published an interview with a girl named Liza (no other information about her is provided).
“- Where do you normally meet?
- Mostly in Cascade and Children’s Railroad.
- Why specifically in Children’s Railroad?
- It symbolizes that we are still children in spirit.
- Why do you jump off bridges?
- This has an explanation as well. We believe that, if we are real emos, we grow wings as we jump.”40
The newspaper does not mention any specific cases of emos jumping off bridges, but “Liza” talks about the mass practice of jumping off bridges, which is common among emos.”
“Iravunk” weekly newspaper reaches some unexpected conclusions about the dangers of the emo movement: “Emos can give rise to fascist groups.” In the last issue of “Hetaqnnutyun” [Investigation] newspaper we had made a reflection on the recent expansion of the emo movement. However, considering the social role and dangers of this phenomenon, it still remains an issue. What is the opinion of psychologists regarding the psychological characteristics of the emos? We asked RUBEN POGHOSYAN, Doctor of Psychology, Leading Specialist, Director of the Ayg Psychological Services Center.41
The psychologist describes the psychological mindset of the emos, their worldview, followed by the political aspects of this “threat”:
- Which political force needs emos?
- I don’t know where it is managed from, however, it is in the interests of the West to exercise more control over Armenia, to subordinate it and make it dependent on the West. The West does not want Armenia to become strong. Emos are imported from outside, and a good amount of work has been done in this direction.42
“Iravunk” expresses its attitude towards the case when a few young girls were taken by the police to a police station. According to information released by the media, the girls were suspected of participating in the emo movement. Policemen had allegedly pulled the girls’ hair and kept them in detention for a few hours. “An 18-year old boy should be going to serve in the army to fight against the Turks, but then he commits suicide instead, that’s not right!”- said the emotional father GHEVOND MAYILYAN, a teacher at the Gevorgyan seminary, in a meeting with reporters a month ago. It turns out that a group of young people, calling themselves “emo,” with their suicide attempts and explicit suicidal tendencies, is an impediment for going to the army. Head of the Support and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Destructive Cults Alexander Amaryan, who is one of the best experts on sects, says that had it not been for some activities that are characteristic of emos, they would not have posed such a big problem. Every emo must have attempted suicide until s/he is 17 at least once; this is mandatory. There are no statistics on the number of emos. However, according to calculations by Alexander Amaryan, there are currently about 3000-4000 emos in Armenia. He mentions that this subculture in Armenia spreads via the soul hunting method practiced by sects.43 Thus, according to Amaryan, since 2004 there should have been at least 3000-4000 suicide attempts by underage children involved in this movement. However, there is no confirmed data.
The continuation of the article is devoted to an interview with the girls. “However, let’s discuss the press conference itself. For example, it was worthwhile to listen to the oldest among them named Tsomak, who was over 18, and her ideas on “civil society” and the police being “horribly inhumane.” Who had the floor? Let me introduce - a feminist, a punk-rock musician, and, according to Tigran Kocharyan, a famous blogger in Armenia (pigh.tv), “this Tsomak is a lesbo if I’m not mistaken” and, again, according to the same Tsomak’s testimony, “We’d gone to the children’s railroad, I was on a bicycle, we went for a walk, we were having a conversation and one of the girls took out a small souvenir, two daggers crossed, very beautiful, to give as a gift to one of the girls. Policemen were walking by and saw that she took out the souvenir, came up and asked what it was. We said a souvenir. They said it was not a souvenir, it was a cold weapon.”
“One may wonder what these children’s parents are thinking… Here is the approach of one of Zaruhi Ghukasyan, the mother of one of the girls taken to the police. She said that one week ago Juvenile Inspector Khachik Avagyan visited their house and tried to convince the parents that Bella was an emo. The policeman warned them that if the parents did not take measures against it, this “story would have a bad ending.” Now, tell me please, would a policeman bother a parent of a girl of normal behavior, or even worse, would the worst policemen fabricate a case against a girl? Some don’t want to face the truth.”44
On December 2, Pan-Armenian.Net website disseminated the following information under the headline of “The Youth Wing of the Veterans of the Special Task Force is fighting the distorted perception of the emo subculture in Armenia.”
“The Youth Wing of the Veterans of the Police Special Task Force staged a peaceful march under the slogan “Let’s Fight Together Against Foreign Perversions” as a sign of protest against the distorted ideology of the emo subculture. “We are not against the emo movement as such, since it is an emotional rock culture, but we’re against the distorted way by which it is perceived in our country. Emos long for a free and independent lifestyle and don’t harm anyone,” said Hayarpi Alaverdyan, the President of the Youth Wing. According to her, the distorted emo ideology has a bad impact on minors, and it especially poses a big problem in schools. “We have some information that they find razors in their textbooks. With our action we would like to prevent this ideology from spreading, which incites suicidal tendencies in juveniles. We will also distribute booklets to passers by,” said Alaverdyan.
She added that the movement penetrated into Armenia in 2007 and spread quite rapidly. “Therefore, we have come to the conclusion that this movement is backed and sponsored by some individuals,” said Alaverdyan.
“Hraparak” daily cover the press conference of the Head of Police Alik Sargsyan. Their article was titled “Emos Will Change Our Gene Pool”.45 This is the Head of Police’s view on the danger of emos: “We should fight not only against emos, but also against sectarian movements in general, because they have caused serious moral harm to our people,” which shows that the target of the campaign in the media against emos is the religious organizations. This is what the Head of Police said with regard to the march organized by the Youth Wing of the Veterans of the Police Special Task Force: “This is a march of the Police’s Special Forces, which is a non-governmental organization, mainly composed of those police veterans who participated in defending our borders in the Artsakh war. To be honest, I am the Honorary Chairman of this organization. I personally have given my approval for these people to carry out the action. Of course, my attitude towards emos is negative, extremely negative, I just don’t accept it [the movement].” The Head of Police also thinks that “As for the emos, they might change our gene pool,” without, however, providing any insights on how exactly the emos could ruin the gene pool. The Head of Police now thinks that it is imperative to “struggle against sects.”
This is how “Iravunk” newspaper presents the political context of the “emo movement” in the article “Who takes our kids to the clubs of juvenile suicidaires-2”. In the interview, Lika, a juvenile, forgot one important attribute that is characteristic of emos throughout the world – periodic use of cocaine. Thus, emos like cutting veins, emos are ready to reject their parents, an Emo girl can never turn into a normal - let alone traditional – mother,” an emo boy will never become a soldier.
In the coming 2-3 years, perhaps earlier, the Ministry of Defense will face a terrifying problem. Conscripts will commit suicide en masse in barracks and military positions, even at the point of assembly or even on the way to the place of service. This is the goal of the enemies of our country and our nation, who spare no effort to promote the destructive emo subculture so that in the near future our country will have no mothers and soldiers and become an easy target.
So when will the authorities stop this monstrous child molesters, who have managed to knit a net that traps our future to make us bleed to death?46
Unlike the Head of Police, Nelly Duryan, the Deputy Head of the RA Police Criminal Intelligence 3rd Department, gives a different picture, which she backs up with operative data.
“In 2009, 28 teenage kids committed suicide. The main reason for suicides among youth is problems stemming from their daily lives or unrequited love. We have not recorded any suicides committed on religious grounds,” added N. Duryan.”47
It is noteworthy that before that there were no articles or information about the emo movement in the mass media. All of a sudden, print media took an interest in the topic simultaneously and many articles got published on the topic. After some time this topic disappeared from the media altogether. One can only conclude that either the emos made the decision not to commit suicide any more, or they ceased their “activity,” or this topic lost its actuality due to some other reason.
The next subject, which is covered in the media on and off, is “sect suicides” and “mental health” issues. However, as a rule, as we mentioned before, no concrete cases are pointed out.
Despite the official statement on the suicides in the country, “Aravot,” too, is concerned with the issue of suicides committed on religious grounds.
“In the recent years, mental illnesses have become more common, and they often affect younger people. This is mainly due to social conditions, say psychiatrists, who also mention that mental disorders in some patients are a result of involvement in sects. Their hallucinations are mainly of religious nature.” Father Shmavon Ghevondyan of St. Hovhannes Armenian Apostolic Church in Yerevan and the Coordinator of the Armenian Association of Psychiatrists Aram Hovhannisyan, reflecting on mental disorders in Armenia and the influence on their increase by sects, mentioned that it should worry the government. Simply, very little is being said recently about sects or the struggle against them. Has the danger bypassed us or have we come to terms with their existence?”48
“There is always talk about the issue of sects and their consequences, but how to struggle against them? It is obvious that sect movements invest serious financial means and in many cases even select open spaces, such as stadiums. How can people living in the neighborhood protect themselves against the possible consequences of their teachings? According to Father Ghevondyan, ”This is not only an issue to be dealt by the Church, it is an issue for the state as well. The country has adopted a number of laws, it’s another issue how these laws can be implemented. We simply have to strengthen the legislative field, strengthen all the capacities and leverages to implement the law, which should first of all prevent such activity, prohibit it and then punish it. We have a law, which makes these kinds of activities liable to criminal punishment. However, up to now not a single follower of a sect has been prosecuted.”49
The numerous articles on sectarian suicides do not point out any confirmed case of a suicide on religious grounds. However, information regarding the religious beliefs of the man who killed his parents in November, in Sevan, flooded the Armenian media.
This is how the editor of “Iravunk” commented on the case: “A terrifying incident that shook the country happened on November 8, 2010 in the town of Sevan at 33 Nalbandyan street. Arman Khachiki Torosyan, 23 years old, tortured and killed his own father and mother Khachik and Marieta Torosyan. At the scene of the crime a 3kg gas canister was found with traces of blood, which had served as one of the appalling torture instruments.
Arman Torosyan was a Jehovah’s Witness and killed his parents for the very reason that they did not want to put up with the fact that he was a follower of a sect. When the neighbors heard the commotion, cries and swearing, they immediately called the police. Getting to the place in 2-3 minutes, the police saw Arman running out of the building and arrested him on the spot. And what did he say? He said the people he killed were not his father and mother but two Satans whom he exterminated fulfilling the commandment of Jehovah.50 The editor then comments on the political aspect of the case. “What does the appalling incident in Sevan tell us? Something terrifying and alarming. If 20 years ago the task before the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who were turning into zombies, was to recruit new zombies, now the time has come to turn these live robots into fanatic killers and terrorists. The tragedy in Sevan can perhaps be considered as a “first experiment.”
We have all reasons to assume that the overlords of the Jehovah’s Witnesses abroad have calculated that the soul hunting resource has approached its limits as in practice they have gathered as many zombies as possible, and today those zombies have an entirely different task to fulfill. Never believe that their religion forbids them to kill, as they refuse to take up arms and go to the army. The same religion equally forbids them to participate in elections, however, in 2007, Jehovah’s Witnesses went to the polling stations and, following orders, voted for the Heritage party, while in 2008, in the same manner they gave their votes to LTP. Jehovah, the god of evil in the Armenian mythology, is very capricious and changes the content of his teaching, his prohibitions and orders as he wishes. What’s the situation with the spread of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Armenia? There are 14 thousand Jehovah’s Witnesses in Armenia, which means one in 300 people, on average, is a Jehovah’s Witness, and their concentration is especially large in border regions. In particular, there are 3000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Artsakh, meaning one in 40 is a Jehovah’s Witness. Did you guess why such disproportional distribution of Jehovah’s was ensured to benefit the enemy?… All of this demonstrates that it is the obligation of the Police, the National Security Service and the Prosecutor’s Office to find out who and how instructed Arman Torosyan and turn him into a parent killing machine. And, in general, law-enforcement bodies must uncover the whole structure of this criminal sect and the system of passing on orders and accountability to prepare a solid legal base, which would make it possible to legally close the Jehovah’s Witnesses totalitarian sect and isolate its leaders. If proper investigation is not done and the young monster is presented as insane, the society will have all grounds to suspect that there was corruption involved in the process. By the way, one of the best specialists on sects, Alexander Amaryan, Head of the “Support and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Destructive Cults,” published the annual financial turnover of sects in Armenia. It is a shocking figure – around one billion dollars per year. This is an amount that makes it is possible to offer all sorts of bribes… Thus, our nation and our country are facing a new alarming threat. One in thirty is a foreign agent, a foreign puppet, ready to follow orders and carry out any activities. Meanwhile, our statesmen and our law-enforcement system are toying with different European Councils and European standards, instead of taking counter measures to counter this disease. Who wears tuxedoes with velvet gloves when there is fire?...”51
The Jehovah’s Witnesses organization made a public announcement that that person had nothing to do whatsoever with their organization and that the news was spread to discredit them and that they had filed a lawsuit in a court, demanding a number of media outlets to refute their previous reports.
“Azg” daily newspaper, without waiting for the court’s decision, comments on this step by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the article titled “Jehovah’s Witnesses are Refusing Their Scum.” “Jehovah’s Witnesses sectarian organization’s member Arman Torosyan’s cruel murder of his parents in Sevan is the first bloody trace left by the organization, but, alas, not the last. One may only assume what kind of brainwashing or - as they call it - “processing” people undergo in this organization to be able to kill even parents, should they try to keep their offspring from the destructive path. What took place was really appalling, and the whole population of Armenia was shocked. The whole population, except the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization and the zombies trapped in their net, who, as the people closely familiar with their working style expected, immediately refuted the young man’s belonging to Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Yesterday, our newspapers received a statement by the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization in Armenia. Mentioning that they were also shocked by the “horrendous” crime, the abovementioned organization refuted that Arman Torosyan was a member or that he had anything to do with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and blamed the Armenian media for spreading “absolutely groundless and false information” and for its “unprofessional” approach. This, according to them, “discredited the good name of Jehovah’s Witnesses, their honor and dignity worldwide.” According to that statement, it turns out that Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for their profound respect for parents and relatives, and their appreciation of life.”52
“Nevertheless, the question is why the organization decided to deny, through a public statement, their own riffraff who killed his parents. The answer is simple. The organization “Jehovah’s Witnesses” could face prosecution for inciting crime. After all this, the statement by the “brave” Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan seems ridiculous: he says not to call the young murderer a Jehovah’s Witness as long as the case is under investigation. Why doesn’t the Ombudsman appeal not to call him a murderer, perhaps no one has been killed, or perhaps no one has seen the blood or the corps? Has the Ombudsman, if only once, tried to defend the rights of the parents whose children are no longer theirs as they have joined the ranks of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and impose the same on their relatives?”53
The Ombudsman’s statement to wait until the end of the investigation before labeling the case has enraged the newspaper.
The article “My Daughter Swore to Wash Herself With My Blood,” published in “Aravot” daily, talks about the sectarians’ usual “evil deeds.”
“The mother tells that when her daughter started worshipping the devil, she made this promise to the sectarian organization. “Just a few years ago, I had a peaceful family, lived with my daughter, was ready to give my life for her and her future; however, these devil worshipers ruined my family and sowed discord in our peaceful and amicable family,” told 60-year old Edmila Mikhaelyan when she came to the “Aravot” editorial office.
“Aravot” often reflects on soul hunting by one or another sectarian organization. We have had numerous publications on how the preaching of “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” “Mormons,” “Word of Life” and other sectarian organizations and their ideology cause mental disorders in some people. However, Mrs. Edmila’s story is a typical example of how a normal person, with higher education, well-read and smart, can transform into such an aggressive person, being influenced by the sectarian organization, and compel her own mother to commit suicide.”54
The article is about the difficult relationship between the mother and the daughter, which started after the daughter became a follower of a ‘sect’. However, it does not mention the specific organization the daughter is a member of. The reporter who wrote the article did not meet the other party to this story, the daughter, to find out her views. “Because of the daughter, Edmila sold her house in Nork and bought a house in the village of Masis in Artashat. When we asked Edmila to give us her daughter, Veolora Khosrovyan’s contact information, so that we could talk to her, the woman said that she’d erased her from her life and had no contact with her.”55
The author of the article presents the moral side of the story as follows:
“Psychologists assure that the mental problems caused by sectarian organizations are very serious. Any decision made within the sect is a binding for all. If people are ordered to commit suicide, they will go and jump out of the window, for example.
The danger of sects is that their members lose the connection with their relatives, there is only one authority for the sectarians, and that is their own sect and the rules that apply in it. Therefore, it is not surprising that in an Armenian family a daughter would call her mother ’riffraff’’, and ‘impertinent’, would want to kill her own mother, would cause emotional distress to the woman who brought her up.”56
“Hayots Ashkharh” weekly reflected on the issue of religious organization in Armenia in the article “What Does an Increase in the Number of “Witnesses” Mean?” “In general, if we call things what they are, the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” sect should have been forbidden in Armenia a long time ago as an organization spreading ideas threatening the health and public moral of the society and citizens and engaging in the relevant destructive activity… And if we now add to them various “Pentecostals,” “Mormons” and who knows what other rubbish, such as “devil worshipers,” “emos” and “goths,” we’ll get a complete picture in all of its dreadfulness. But what else could be expected in the absence of what is in general formulated as “state ideology,” when there is nothing called “patriotic upbringing”? Even worse, not only the above-mentioned is absent, we don’t even have manifestation of its emergence. Whenever there is something, some hypocrites, in unison, make a mockery out of it (let’s remember the negative reactions to the introduction of a requirement to sing the Armenian state anthem in public schools).
In short, it is too late now to raise the alarm about sectarian expansion. Now we have to ring the bell, or, to put it simply, we have to act.
We can consider the age group of 25-30 that belongs to sects a lost group for the nation, the state and the society. It is clear that the efficiency of actions aimed at saving people in that group will be very low. Instead, we have to invest all our efforts into keeping our young generation away from this sectarian and “emo-goth” trash… It is obvious that we have to come up with something new, a new comprehensive movement that would be based on national and universal values and which will keep the architects of our future away from sectarian contamination”57
Coverage of Religious Activity in the Area of Education
The debate on religious issues has entered schools and we believe that the Ministry of Education has a specific policy in this field.
“Aravot” writes about the meeting of the Minister of Education with student councils of institutions of higher education. “You have such opportunities that we could have only dreamt of. I call upon you to be active and use all the opportunities that you have,” said Armen Ashotyan, RA Minister f Education and Science yesterday at the meeting with chairs of student councils, referring to the students from student organizations who have entered the political arena, who can carry out necessary lobbying in different platforms. Then the Minister announced, “The Minister was full of appeals yesterday. Besides the appeal above, he also urged that while organizing different events, they should remember the church, the army and Artsakh. “Students should return to the church. The church is an institution with which and for which you are obliged to work.”58
“Aravot” conducts investigation into any possible indirect assistance to schools by religious organizations.”
“We found out from a statement from the US Embassy that yesterday US Deputy Chief of Mission Joseph Pennington, Director of Humanitarian Programs of US State Department Jerry Oberndorfer, representatives of the Armenian government bodies, international non-governmental organization and other guests participated in the launch of the program on building a heating system and sanitary facilities in a school in Darbnik village of Ararat marz. The school was built in 1966 and it has not had running water, a heating system or toilet facilities. The program was implemented by International Relief and Development organization with 19,000 USD from the US State Department. “Latter-Day Saints Charities” (Mormons) organization contributed 4,000 USD and Caroline and George Najarians from the US also contributed 4,000 USD.
We tried to find out from the Holy See if they were not concerned with Mormons doing charity in a school. Father Hakob from the Information Office promised to give an answer later, while Director of Christian Upbringing Center Father Vardan said he would get back after verifying the information from other sources.”59
However, the same newspaper praises the involvement of the Armenian Apostolic Church in classes at public schools.
“On Saturday, school Nr. 119 organized an event dedicated to a spiritual topic. Behind this event was the teacher of the Armenian language and literature, Gohar Melik-Stepanyan, with her pupils from 6b class. All kids, without exception, were involved, no matter how gifted or capable. Serious work was carried out. The children not only presented on religious holidays and the Easter in particular, they also said prayers, recited and sang Armenian church songs (hymns called “sharakan”). They were wearing crosses and holding Children’s Bibles close to their hearts. Present at this afternoon event was a well known pedagogue Rubina Nazaryan, who has authored a textbook of Armenian language and many manuals, and who from the next academic year will resume teaching at her native school after 8 years in the United States where she also worked as a teacher. Mrs. Nazaryan was delighted with teacher G. Melik-Stepanyan’s work, who used to be one of her pupils and now has 20 years of work experience. The director of the school, Hovnannes Karapetyan welcomed the teacher and her pupils and said that such manuals foster the process of these children not only becoming young Christians but also following Christ’s teachings in the future.”60
In another article in the same newspaper, there is concern with religious organizations trying to penetrate into schools. “Alexander Amaryan mentioned that years ago when the gifts were distributed in various schools and kindergartens, they always contained colorful religious books with pictures and a note - “The best gift of all.” According to his, this was the best method for sectarian organizations to preach and have the children who are just entering life follow them, and this method is used up to date. “I have 30 examples of such books at home, one of which had reached my son”61
Teachers organized “blessing of the teachers” at the Holy See of Echmiadzin under the leadership of the Minister of Education, with participation of government officials, parliamentarians.
“On August 31, on the eve of the Knowledge Day, at the Holy See of Echmiadzin, a blessing ceremony of people working in the field of education took place, headed by Catholicos Garegin II, which marked the beginning of a new tradition to bless educators. With the bells ringing, the church crowd guided by Catholicos Garegin II and Minister of Education Armen Ashotyan, entered the Mother Church, where a blessing ceremony was held for about 200 teachers. Representatives of the National Assembly’s standing committee on education, ministry of education, heads of the RA education departments at governors’ offices, rectors of higher educational institutions, directors of RA colleges and vocational schools, representatives of schools and kindergartens in Yerevan and the regions, educational institutions of the Mother See – Gevorgian seminary, Vazgenian school, members of the inspection team of the “Eornekian” public school attended the ceremony.”62
“Golos Armenii” newspaper proposes to introduce a “Code of Honor” for Armenian teachers and pupils.
We propose a Code of Rights for Armenian teachers and pupils.
An Armenian has the right to
- Citizenship of the Republic of Armenia,
- Membership in the community of the Armenian Apostolic Church
- A place behind a national school desk
- A place in the world of Armenian culture
- A place as a person loved by his/her family, school, state and all Armenians.”63
Article 8, Paragraph 2 of the RA Law on “The Relationship between the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian Apostolic Church” (went into effect on 07.04.2007) regulates AAC’s rights in educational institutions. It talks about AAC being involved in the development of a course and a textbook on the “history” of Armenian Church, determining the requirements for the teachers of that subject and nominating such teachers in schools. At the same time, paragraph 3 of the same article says that “the state shall ensure that the right to religious education is exercised on a voluntary basis.”
The principle of religious education being voluntary is violated by the fact of teachers taking their oath in a church, in the presence of their superior (the Minister of Education), as well as by teachers and school directors organizing religious ceremonies and events in public schools.
“After the religious ceremony dedicated to Knowledge Day, Catholicos Garegin II stated that he personally makes sure that History of Armenian Church is taught properly in schools, and that results are already obvious, because the ties between young people and the church are becoming stronger.”64
At the same time, the media tries to reveal the schools where activities by other religious organizations are taking place. “The private schools shut down last week were sectarian schools,” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” newspaper. According to the newspaper, sources of the National Security Service informed that concrete sectarian ideology was preached at “Huysi Paros” and “Word of Life.” The same source informed that the school fees for children were paid for by secret sectarian organizations, which were sponsoring the schools, and these circumstances led to the closure of these schools.
Armenian Minister of Education and Sciences Armen Ashotyan in his turn announced that, when making the decision to terminate the license, the Ministry of Education was guided by the Law on Licensing. Inspections revealed violations which served as the basis for making the decision.
Last week by the order of the Minister of Education a few private schools, where 450 pupils studied, were shut down.”65
Here we see manifestation of double standards, when different approaches are taken towards different organizations.
“For seven years already, the Armenian Apostolic Church and the RA Ministry of Education have been organizing competitions of teachers of history of the Armenian Church, Armenian language and literature, Armenian history and natural sciences (physics, chemistry and biology). The Ministry of Education reported that the awards ceremony for the winners of the 2010 competition took place in the Holy See of Echmiadzin today.”66
“The educational system brings up an Armenian citizen who besides knowledge, democratic and other values should also carry centuries old Christian values. Our Constitution recognizes the exceptional role of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the preservation of national identify, spiritual and cultural upbringing, whereas national identity is a way of thinking, which makes you in tune with civilization elements that are characteristic of your nation. Who could do this better than the church?” the RA Minister of Education and Science, Armen Ashotyan, stated in his speech.
The Minister emphasized the importance of the church-education-army cooperation and stated that there is no education and no army without church, and that this cooperation is becoming more developed day after day, because “the Armenian school has been created around spiritual values, and the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church has always been the protector and supporter of the Armenian school.”67
In an interview to “Lragir” this is how Minister of Education Armen Ashotyan explains his policy.
“It is more a matter of tradition. And then one cannot judge about faithfulness of people to the religion by external gestures or mimics. Our Apostolic Church is gradually restoring its position and importance in the society, becoming one of the main aspects of life, and I, as an Armenian citizen, welcome this development. The Catholicos persistently implements different initiatives in the field of education. As the person responsible for the authorized body for education, I am ready to consistently support the Church during this period and afterwards to enter our schools and the education system in general with its value-based religious education.”68
Using Religious Issues for Political Purposes
After the 2008 presidential elections, there were mass protests and actions, large demonstrations questioning the legitimacy of the elections. On March 1, 2008, the authorities used force to suppress discontent, as a result of which at least 10 people died. The opposition candidate was Levon Ter-Petrosyan. After these events, some media published information according to which religious minorities had also taken part in demonstrations. In the study prepared by us in 2009 on “Religion Intolerance in Armenia – Monitoring of Media in 2009” we presented analysis of a few such articles.69Similar articles appeared in 2010 as well. Before presenting some of the articles published in 2010, we will present a small excerpt from the analysis of the media monitoring in 2009.
“In the “Do sects Participate in Political Processes” article70 there is some information the sources of which the author of the article keeps undisclosed. “According to our trusted sources, members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a destructive and totalitarian sect that operates in Armenia, as well as people supporting it (pioneers or candidates to membership), with a small exception, participated in the 2007 National Assembly elections and 2008 presidential elections. By the way, this and other details became known to us thanks to carelessness of some Jehovah’s witnesses and information leaks, as well as attentiveness of some of the commission members who had noticed people coming in groups, whom they had recognized as Jehovah’s Witnesses. As it is known, Jehovah’s Witnesses, like members of other sects, in public as well as in private conversations have announced and continue announcing that they do not participate in political processes, including elections. In the past it was probably the case. However, one can conclude from the above-mentioned that the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Armenia, most probably obeying somebody’s superior directive or command, decided to make an exception for the love of Jehovah. Thus, they considered that the moment had come...
Perhaps the most noteworthy fact is that Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to the information we have, voted for Zharangutyun (Heritage) party and candidates nominated by the party during the parliamentary elections. On February 19, during the presidential elections, they voted for number 9 on the ballot paper, which was L. Ter-Petrosyan.”
The article accuses Jehovah’s Witnesses for doing something that was their constitutional right. On the other hand, as a source of information, the article mentions precinct electoral commission’s information, which is a violation of Electoral Code, since participation in elections and voting are considered to be confidential. The article attempts to make its readers believe that there is a conspiracy against Armenia from foreign countries, and religious organization serve as a tool for these forces in this conspiracy. At the same time the articles accuses Zharangutyun party, which also participates in this “conspiracy” and that was the reason why it voted against the draft law on amending the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations.
The article continues to “unmask” the “World of Life” church and its leader. “According to our reliable information, President of the Union of Word of Life churches in Armenia, the senior pastor (protestant priest) in the Yerevan church since 1995 Artur Simonyan was in the US, particularly in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento...” from December 2007 to January 15, 2008, i.e. before the presidential elections. The article continues to show “evidence” of conspiracy during the election by religious organizations. The article is continued in the next issue of the newspaper.71 About a year after the March 1 events, interesting information was placed on the website of “Word of Life” (Armenian representation of the sect), the translated pieces of which we present below, accompanied by our questions and comments.
“Presidential elections took place in Armenia on February 19, after which, according to official data, in the first election round, the majority of the votes were given to the incumbent Prime Minister. However, the majority of the population is convinced that the results of the elections were forged. This caused a wave of discontent.”
It is interesting to know what made this sect, which is supposed to be “far” from politics, conclude it was the majority of voters who thought that the elections were forged. Doesn’t this prove that this religious organization is biased and is somewhat involved in political processes?
Another quote from the above-mentioned piece on “Word of Life” website:
“Supporters of the Prime Minister want to keep the power at any cost, and have started persecution of opposition activists and their supporters.”
Naturally, we would not be surprised had we come across this slanderous information or announcement in the pro-Armenian National Movement media or a pro-Levon website, however, this came from the “Word of Life” website.
The same piece contains the following: “At the same time, there is a threat to religious freedom of believers in the country. This has to do with the fact that, throughout the entire campaign , the incumbent Prime Minister was openly supported by the Catholicos and priests of the Armenian Apostolic Church, who had immediate presence in political events”
If for a moment we admit that it was indeed like that, then how could the moral support of the Catholicos and other clergymen and their blessing for the Prime Minister and presidential candidate Serzh Sargsyan pose “a threat to religious freedoms of the believers in the country?” Talking about such a connection, we think, is nonsense.
Even more remarkable is the last sentence of the same piece on “Word of Life” website: “The forces supporting the incumbent Prime Minister (the author means the Catholicos and priests of the Armenian Apostolic Church-A.H.) are for spiritual monopolies and treat evangelical churches as sects, which they accuse of voting for the opposition candidate in an organized fashion.” We are not aware of such an accusation; however, how can we not ask, wasn’t there really organized voting? In any case, we have no doubts about “Word of Life” being a sect representing the evangelical family of churches and about its organized participation to vote in favor of Ter-Petrosyan.”
In 2009, in an article written by the editor of “Hayots Ashkharh,” parallels were drawn between the political opposition and religious organizations, referred to as “sects.” “…As a reminder, the draft law makes it significantly easier for the sects to operate in our country. And not only “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Mormons and every other kind, excuse me for my language, “dancing brothers” type of religious sects, but also political sects. In particular, “Levon’s sect”… To repeat, Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s decision to create his own sect can be by and large explained. What is difficult to explain is why the coalition wants to adopt a law that would make the sects’ operation in Armenia easier.
And why, allow me to ask, is the part about Antichrist-opponent of Christ and God – “animal rising from the sea” that would appear before the end of the world to lead the forces of darkness - missing in the draft? The coalition, like an ostrich, prefers to hide its neck in sand and pretend that it does not see anything, even that Levon-Antichrist, who refused the Catholicos, has been wandering in the Armenian land for already a year and a half.
By the way, as it is known, the period of Antichrist’s evil deeds is 42 months, i.e. three and a half years, which, like a mirror reflection, corresponds to the period of Christ’s preaching.
Thus, let us not pin our hopes on the National Assembly, but instead let us arm ourselves with patience, sisters and brothers. We have only two years left to reach the kingdom of moral evil where “people will be egotistic, wealth loving, haughty, impudent, foul-mouthed, disrespectful towards parents, ungrateful, blasphemous, unfriendly, irreconcilable, defamatory, cruel, malicious, treacherous, arrogant, more promiscuous than God-loving.”72
2010 saw continuation of articles written in the same spirit. Alexander Amaryan from the Support and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Destructive Cults returns to the issues of the “participation of sectarians” in March 1, 2008 events.
“Related to March 1 events, I saw that sectarians had gathered in the square. I wouldn’t say that 100 percent were sectarian, but most of them were,” said today Alexander Amaryan, Head of the Support and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Destructive Cults, adding that they were followers of a charismatic church. He also added that religion had actively entered politics and that state-religion relations were being politicized.
- And one does not know why our state does not take it seriously”73:
Attempts are made to use the policy of creating an enemy image of the religious organizations against political oppositional movements. A new name for political opposition, resembling the title of Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization, “Levon’s witnesses,” has been put in circulation. The leader of the opposition is Armenia’s first President Levon Ter-Petrosyan. There is also an attempt to establish a connection between religious organizations and Zharangutyun, an opposition party. The irony in all this is that it was during the presidential term of Levon Ter-Petrosyan, in 1994-1995, when representatives of religious minorities were attacked and persecuted, and it was done in the presence of the police. There have been no large-scale attacks against religious organizations since then. Moreover, the opposition led by Levon Ter-Petrosyan has never defended the principle of freedom of conscience. However, “accusations” against him continue.
“According to our sources, recently Levon Ter-Petrosyan (LTP) had a long private conversation with Levon Pardagchian, the head of the Yerevan Evangelical Church, a sectarian institution. The activity of the Yerevan Evangelical Church can be considered anti-Armenian, as its ideology is different from the Armenian Apostolic Church’s and is foreign to the world outlook of the Armenian nation that has been formed throughout history, and this has also been raised by the mass media many times.
Doesn’t LTP know all this? What discussion topic can a politician, a follower of the Armenian Apostolic Church, have in common with a leader of a sect that is in conflict with the Armenian Church and the Armenian society?
Perhaps this would be the right place to mention that during his presidential term LTP himself did not undertake a single step to limit the spread of sectarianism, and today he is having long private conversations with a leader of a sect not accepted by the society. It is obvious that, having lost all his levers of governing the Congress and gradually having been rejected by the conscious contingency of the population, LTP is trying to find followers among sectarians, regardless of their moral, spiritual and political views and values. As long as they do not reject him.
WHAT IS THE GOAL THAT LTP’S PURSUES WITH THIS STEP? He either hopes to secure the votes of sectarian electorate who are obedient to their leaders, or he tries to get financial or other type of support from different sectarian centers operating abroad. LTP, understanding that he has lost his electorate and his supporters in general, is trying to obtain new supporters.”74
“Psychologist Karine Nalchajyan at a meeting with reporters today spoke about sects and their widespread nature, and mentioned that they first of all affected people’s psyche, as speculation is made on people’s religious emotions/feelings are manipulated.
-Have you noticed that preachers on the street are never alone, they always walk in couples, because they control each other. This means total control from within, total defamation, when everything is controlled, including simple, intimate details of people’s private lives.
The psychologist added that Jehovah’s Witnesses use very delicate mechanisms of exerting influence on people’s psyche. To keep their institutions strong they study and utilize all methods available in modern psychology.
She considered the fact that the number of sectarian movements had increased in Armenia and even in Artsakh very dangerous. This fact, according to the psychologist, for a country as small as Armenia, is very dangerous and destructive.”75:
Different Attitudes in Mass Media on Religious Issues
In this chapter we present excerpts on different issues, specific cases, attitudes, which prove that freedom of conscience is a timely issue in Armenia. Despite its actuality, no public and open discussions are organized in Armenia, which would voice different views and positions. There is no regulation of public opinions. Television presents only one viewpoint. In this chapter we present excerpts from different publications without comments.
“Many of the individuals, who refuse to serve in the army, are trying to avoid both mandatory and even alternative military service on religious grounds, said today Alexander Amaryan, head of the Support and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Destructive Cults. He added that information about defying or impeding activities of religious organizations does not correspond to the reality, since:
-the Republic of Armenia does not have a law that would prohibit, restrict activities of a religious organization; there is no law that would allow entering these institutions for inspection. There are no specialists – lawyers, psychologists or specialists on religious issues.
According to the speaker, there is no law in Armenia that would, to some degree, restrict the activities of sectarian movements, and this is due to the fact that authorities are afraid of the reaction of the Council of Europe and, therefore, prefer not to undertake any action, and by doing so, they allow them [sectarian organization] to undermine the basis of the state and the society.”76
“When the Leader of Gugark Diocese Bishop Sepuh Chuljyan did not succeed in being selected as a candidate for the Patriarch in Turkey and returned to Lori marz, religious intolerance in Lori marz acquired new qualities.
Last year we presented to our readers the situation in schools. This year it is the turn of the army. According to the Senior Pastor Rafael Grigoryan of the Church of Christians of the Evangelical Faith, the military commissariat wanted to fire an official, the reason being that he was a member of their church, which had nothing to do with the reality.
The Pastor of the church submitted an official paper to the military commissariat to certify that the said official was not a member of the church, however, our concern is different.
Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan must explain to us, according to which article of the Constitution or according to which RA law do they test someone’s faith in the army, on a basis of an official paper certifying whether a given person is a member of this or that religion or not. And, in general, what does the Armenian Apostolic Church have to do with the Ministry of Defense human resources policy. We are anxious to receive Mr. Ohanyan’s clarification.”77
“This year persecution and threats have started against Aram Pachyan, a young writer, laureate of the RA Presidential Award. Recently, unknown individuals threatening letter to him on Facebook, in response to his ‘offensive’ attitude towards the Catholicos of All Armenians. To remind, in his literary piece he wrote about the Catholicos the way he would have written about any human being. Later, it became known that the Catholicos himself is involved to some extent in this persecution. He had addressed letters to the state committee in charge of awarding the prize and to the president of the Union of Writers, Levon Ananyan, demanding their explanation as to why the award had been given to Pachyan. Ananyan was even invited to Echmiadzin to give explanation.”78
“Sectarian movements have spread so widely, embracing all the areas of our life, that they have become a normal phenomenon, shattering the whole system of deeply rooted values of the people. Indifference of the state and the church and, perhaps, secret and explicit support contribute to it. Among the numerous sects operating in today’s Armenia are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals, Mormons, Munists…”79
The Open Society Institute introduced a report on religious tolerance in Armenia, focusing exclusively on problems of religious minorities and asserting that their rights are constantly violated in Armenia.
In its turn, the RA Government’s Department of National Minorities and Religious accuses the authors of the report, saying that the latter intentionally defend foreign institutions as they receive funding from them.
According to the Department officials, there have been cases when certain religious group were refused registration, however, that happened only when expert opinion stated that there was a discrepancy between their activities and the requirements of our legislation.
The last application refused on these grounds was from Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In another instance it was revealed that the Helsinki human rights organization was funded by a Scientology church, and, therefore, defended its interests. There are 66 religious organizations registered in Armenia; however there are numerous other religious groups and communities that are not registered or are registered as a non-governmental organization, such as the Chinese “Christian” community - the Muni Church.”80
«The U.S. State Department has recently published a report on Religious Freedom in 2010, where Armenia is presented as a country limiting the freedom of religious minorities. According to the report, the population is mostly negative towards all religious minority groups, as they are perceived as a threat for the state. The report also presents the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses imprisoned for avoiding either military or alternative service.
It is unfortunate that this hefty report has become a mouthpiece for a few religious organizations that carry out dubious activity and turn normal people into riffraff.81
“Therefore, public intolerance should always be there and is justified. We should fight the sectarians in order not to have new victims and not to allow emergence of new murderers of their own parents. Armenia is a small country, and 350,000 of its people have already filled the ranks of sects. The fight against them must start today, as tomorrow may be too late.”82
”In general, it appears that in Armenia there is no activity on the state level to fight sects. Laws on religious organizations are simply not enforced, while the law on soul hunting is still “in the air.””83
1. The project is implemented with support from the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation Armenia Branch and the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
2. The website was created by Collaboration for Democracy Center under the project on Religious Tolerance in Armenia. Publications related to religious issues are placed in the Press Monitoring section. The project was implemented with support from the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation Armenia Branch and the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
3. “The church shall be separate from the state in the Republic of Armenia. The Republic of Armenia recognizes the exclusive historical mission of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church as a national church, in the spiritual life, development of the national culture and preservation of the national identity of the people of Armenia. Freedom of activities for all religious organizations in accordance with the law shall be guaranteed in the Republic of Armenia. The relations of the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church may be regulated by law.”
4. “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom to change the religion or belief and freedom to, either alone or in community with others, manifest the religion or belief, through preaching, church ceremonies and other religious rites. The exercise of this right may be restricted only by law in the interests of public security, health, morality or protection of rights and freedoms of others.”
5. “Everyone shall be equal before the law. Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, color, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or other personal or social circumstances shall be prohibited.”
6. “Everyone shall have the right to freely express his/her opinion. No one shall be forced to recede or change his/her opinion…”
7.“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions.”
9. See “Azg” daily, #167, 13-09-2008 (http://azg.am/AM/2008091316)
10. “Hraparak,” 6/12/2010, “Emos Will Change our Gene Pool”
12. See “Aravot” daily, 02/10/2010
13. From a statement by the Council of Dignity of the Armenian Apostolic Church,http://www.lragir.am/armsrc/society41622.html, 08/12/2010
14. From an interview by the political scientist Anush Sedrakyan,http://www.lragir.am/armsrc/interview41722.html, 10/12/2010
16. Henceforth referred to as AAC
17. “Aravot” daily, 2010-09-04
18. www.religions.am, press monitoring for 2008
19. “Aravot” daily, 2010-09-04
20. “Hayots Ashkharh,” 01.07.2010, “Let Us Prevent Encroachments on Things that are Holy for Us”
21. “Zhamanak,” 25.03.2010 , “You Cannot Teach the Truth with Sweet Words Alone”
22. A movement that considers itself pagan
23. Iravunk, 11.06.2010, “Against Sects or Preservation of Armenian Religion”
24. “Azg” daily. 2010-03-27, “We Really Do Not Need This Church vs. Society Confrontation”
25. «Опасность этих воздействий пока еще полностью не осознается на государственном уровне. Необходимые меры не принимаются. Ни школы, ни вузы не занимаются воспитанием молодежи. Ереванский государственный университет и Славянский университет не смогли найти подходящих людей для участия в круглом столе "ГА", посвященном духовным и нравственным проблемам молодежи Армении»:
26. «Воспользовавшись демократическими свободами, в Армению хлынули секты и неформальные движения. Стоящие за ними деструктивные силы ориентируют свою деятельность в первую очередь на молодежь. Их истинные задачи - разрушение единства нации, подрыв ее духовных и нравственных основ, снижение уровня безопасности нашего государства. Разрушительные силы действуют последовательно и активно, используя незаконные методы влияния на сознание. Опасность этих воздействий пока еще полностью не осознается на государственном уровне. Необходимые меры не принимаются. Ни школы, ни вузы не занимаются воспитанием молодежи. Ереванский государственный университет и Славянский университет не смогли найти подходящих людей для участия в круглом столе "ГА", посвященном духовным и нравственным проблемам молодежи Армении.», “РАЗДЕЛЯЮТ, ЧТОБЫ ВЛАСТВОВАТЬ”, “Голос Армении”, 22.06.2010.
27. «Сейчас они применяются для подрыва национальной безопасности. Наше государство должно очень серьезно задуматься о будущем Армении. Мы перестаем быть народом, объединенным единой верой, духовностью. Идет крайне опасный процесс превращения единой нации в население, раздираемое духовными противоречиями. К такому результату мы пришли не случайно. Иллюзии в отношении сектантства недопустимы. Дело не в том, что кто-то верит так, а кто-то иначе..... Цель всех деструктивных движений и сект - разделение нации, подавление национального самосознания. Мы изо всех сил пытаемся стать европейцами, забывая о том, что Европа борется с понятиями национального государства и национального самосознания. Это считается проявлениями фашизма. Достаточно посмотреть на состояние современной Европы, чтобы серьезно задуматься о том, насколько опасны европейские идеалы. Нам нужны однополые браки и другие подобные проявления демократии? Армяне выжили благодаря тем национальным традициям и устоям, которые сегодня последовательно разрушаются силами извне. А мы принимаем разрушительные понятия, полагая, что это и есть европейские ценности. Посмотрите, какое сильное давление испытывает система образования. Активно внедряются западные методы обучения, которые делают из школьника или студента дебила. Я читал результаты соцопроса, проведенного с американскими школьниками. 70% ответили, что Земля плоская, какой-то процент ответил, что Земля круглая, но не уверены, что Солнце вращается вокруг нее. Мы этого хотим? В результате внедрения европейских ценностей наше общество, которое крайне отрицательно относилось к сексуальным меньшинствам, стало воспринимать их почти благодушно. Вы спрашиваете, что делает Церковь? А что могут сделать 300 священников в 3-миллионной стране? И не Церковь принимает законы, а государство, которое смотрит на эти опасные процессы сквозь пальцы.», “РАЗДЕЛЯЮТ, ЧТОБЫ ВЛАСТВОВАТЬ”, “Голос Армении”, 22.06.2010
28. «Борьба с сектами и деструктивными движениями, преодоление психологических и духовных проблем молодежи требуют консолидации всех здоровых сил нашего общества. Необходимо возродить национальные ценности, утерянные в течение двух последних десятилетий, решить проблемы системы образования. Известно, что между нравственностью и образованием существует неразрывная связь. Маловероятно, что человек с высоким интеллектуальным уровнем, хорошо образованный попадет в секту или станет последователем деструктивного движения. При этом приходится отмечать, что секты работают грамотно, используют научные достижения и эффективные методики вербовки. Но успех их деятельности в молодежной среде обусловлен в первую очередь снижением уровня образования, отсутствием здоровых ориентиров и патриотического настроя. Как уже было сказано, для сектантов нет понятия "соотечественник". Их братья и сестры - только члены их сект»:,“РАЗДЕЛЯЮТ, ЧТОБЫ ВЛАСТВОВАТЬ”, “Голос Армении”, 22.06.2010.
29. “168 Zham”, 25/09/2010, www.168.am/am/articles/24283, “Alert: Emos Drive Young People to Suicide”
30. “168 Zham”, 02/10/2010, www.168.am/am/articles/24408, “Beware of Emos”
31. “168 Zham”, 02.10.2010, www.168.am/am/articles/24416, “Satan is in Town”
33. “168 Zham”, 28/09/2010, http://www.168.am/am/articles/24323-pr, “The Power Structures Are Not Interested in Fighting Against Sects”
36. “168 Zham”, 06/11/2010, www.168.am/am/articles/25058, “Bridges of Love with Children May Not Be Burned”
37. “Hayots Ashkharh,” 16/12/2010, “Emos Are a Real Disaster”
38. “Azg,” 22/10/2010, “White Genocide at Schools”
39. www.lragir.am, 24/11/2010, “Number of Suicides Has Increased Among Juveniles”
40. “Azg,” 22/10/2010, “A Real Emo Grows Wings Jumping off a Bridge…”
41. “Iravunk,” 26/11/2010, “Emos Can Give Rise to Fascist Groups”
43. “Iravunk,” 23/11/2010, “Who Takes Our Children to Clubs of Youth Suicide Clubs”
45. “Hraparak,” 6/12/2010, “Emos will Change Our Gene Pool”
46. “Iravunk,” 21/11/2010, “Who Takes Our Kids to Clubs of Teenage Suicidaires-2?”
47. “Aravot” daily, 06/08/2010, “No Suicides on Religious Grounds Recorded in 2009”
48. “Aravot” daily, 29/10/2010, “Sects as a Reason for Mental Disorders”
50. “Iravunk”, 12/10/2010, “Armenia Enters the Phase of Sectarian Terrorism”
52. “Azg” daily, 13/11/2010, “Jehovah’s Witnesses Refuse their Riffraff ”
54. “Aravot” daily, 7/07/2010, http://aravot.am/am/articles/education/0/view/all, “My Daughter Promised to Wash With My Blood.”
57. “Hayots Ashkharh”, 09/11/2010, “What Does an Increase in the Number of “Witnesses” Mean?”
58. “Aravot” daily, 02/10/2010, “The Minister’s Pleas”
59. “Aravot” daily, 15/05/2010, “Mormons also Helped”
60. “Aravot” daily, 05/07/2010, “Young Christians of [School] Nr. 119”
61. “Aravot” daily, 05/07/2010, “Sectarian Books in Gift Boxes”
62. “Azg” daily, 01/09/2010, “Catholicos of All Armenians Blessed the Teachers”
63. “Golos Armenii,” 17/08/2010 , text in Russian (original) “КОДЕКС АРМЯНСКОГО УЧИТЕЛЯ И ЕГО УЧЕНИКА”, «Мы предлагаем “Кодекс прав и обязанностей Армянского учителя и его Ученика.
АРМЯНИН ИМЕЕТ ПРАВО:
- на гражданство Республики Армения;
- на место в пастве Святой Апостольской Армянской Церкви;
- на место за партой в национальной школе;
- на место в мире национальной армянской культуры;
- на место любимца, воспитанника и послушника Семьи, Школы, Государства и Армянства”
64. Hetq.am 2010/08/31, http://hetq.am/am/society/garegin-b-2/, “The Number of Sectarians Has Decreased, According to the Catholicos”
65. “Novosti-Armenia,” 27/04/2010, http://ar.newsarmenia.ru/arm1/20100427.42239365.html, “Private Schools Closed Down in Armenia Were Sectarian Institutions”
66. Panorama.am, 23/11/2010, http://www.panorama.am/am/education/2010/11/23/armen-ashotyan/, “A.Ashotyan, “The Armenian Apostolic Church is the Protector of the Armenian school””
68. lragir.am, 23/04/2010, “Maximally acceptable solutions”
70. “Hayots Ashkharh”, 20/03/2009, #51
71. “Hayots Ashkharh” weekly, 21/03/2009, #2
72. «Let’s Arm Ourselves with Patience, Sisters and Brothers,” “Hayots Ashkharh,” 25/02/2009
73. 7or.am, 11/12/2010, http://7or.am/hy/news/2010-12-11/20846/, «Were Most of the People Who Gathered in the Opera Square on March 1 Sectarians?”
74. “Golos Armenii,” 17/07/2010, “From political adventurism to political degradation.” In Russian (original) «ОТ ПОЛИТИЧЕСКОГО АВАНТЮРИЗМА - К ПОЛИТИЧЕСКОЙ ДЕГРАДАЦИИ», «Так, наши источники свидетельствуют, что недавно Левон Тер-Петросян в своем особняке имел длительную беседу с руководителем сектантской организации Евангелическая Церковь Еревана Левоном Бердакчяном, человеком, который не имеет ничего общего с Армянской Апостольской Церковью, всячески охаивает ее и занимается прозелитизмом. Деятельность "Евангелической Церкви Еревана" можно расценить только как антиармянскую, так как идеология секты существенно отличается от вероучения Армянской Апостольской Церкви и чужда исторически сформировавшемуся мировоззрению армянского народа, о чем неоднократно говорилось и в средствах информации. Неужели все это неизвестно Л.Т.-П.? Какие могут быть общие темы для обсуждения у политического деятеля, представляющего себя обществу в качестве верного последователя Армянской Апостольской Церкви, и руководителя секты, ведущей духовную борьбу против Армянской Церкви и армянского общества? Может быть, уместно напомнить, что именно Л.Т.-П. в годы, когда он руководил страной, не предпринимал никаких шагов для ограничения распространения сектантства, а сегодня он проводит длительные беседы с руководителем секты, не приемлемой обществом. Очевидно, что Л.Т.-П., утративший все свои рычаги управления конгрессом и постепенно отвергаемый сознательной частью общества, пытается найти единомышленников в среде сектантов, независимо от их моральных, духовных, политических представлений и ценностей. Лишь бы его не отвергали.
КАКУЮ ЦЕЛЬ ПРЕСЛЕДУЕТ ПОДОБНЫЙ ШАГ Л.Т.-П.? То ли он надеется обеспечить себя в дальнейшем выборным электоратом с помощью послушных своему лидеру сектантов, то ли желает получить финансовую и иную поддержку от различных религиозных центров зарубежья. Л.Т.-П., сознавая, что утратил свой электорат и вообще большинство своих сторонников, вероятно, пытается приобрести новых »
75. 7or.am, 11/12/2010, http://7or.am/hy/news/2010-12-11/20854/, “Psychologist, “Sectarian Movements Are Destructive for Our Country.””
76. 7or.am,11/12/2010, http://7or.am/hy/news/2010-12-11/20851/, “There Is No Law in RA That Would Restrict Activities of Sectarian Movements»
77. www.lragir.am, 12/11/2010, “Religious Investigation in the Army”
78. «Hraparak», 24/06/2010, “Persecution”
80. http://asekose.com/?p=1654, 31/05/2010, “Interfering with God’s Deeds”
81. “Azg,” 30/11/2010, “The Report is Imperfect, the Society’s Intolerance”
83. “Azg,” 11/12/2010, “To Protect Citizens From Psychological War And Keep Them Away From Sects.”
"Jehovah's Witnesses" Christian Religious Organization, Armenia, Head of Public Relations
To date, 99 Jehovah's Witnesses have applied for alternative labor service. The Republican Committee has now made decisions on the applications of 57 persons; the remaining applications are pending.