Jehovah’s Witnesses and Armenia: Part 2

Photo: Jw.org
Photo: Jw.org

The Behavioral Specificities of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions according to their denomination’s beliefs trying to justify it by some biblical rules. History is full of death cases in Witnesses’ families because of refusal to accept blood transfusions. The problem is especially deplorable when parents refuse blood transfusions even for saving their children’s lives. Many death cases caused by refusal to accept blood transfusions happen in Armenia as well. Let us remark on the latest one.  

Karen Zkhkryan ran over two pedestrian citizens Tereza and NairiUghulyans by his own car on February 17, 2013. NairiUghulyan got physical injuries, but he convalesced. TerezaUghulyan passed away. In this regard Karen Zkhkryan was charged with the manslaughter according to the second part of the 242article and the 244 article of the Civil Law of Republic of Armenia. Throughout the course of the inquest it became clear that the cause of Tereza’s death was loss of blood. Doctors had done blood transfusion while she had been unconscious, but regaining consciousness the devoted Jehovah’s Witness refused to accept the second vital transfusion, which became the reason of her death. The driver was accused of doing mortal damage to the woman, which had brought to death. Such behavioral manifestations of the Watchtower members are numerous throughout the world.

Another specific behavioral manifestation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is that they do not celebrate a variety of Holidays (birthday, new year, etc.) considering the latter to have pagan origin. They only celebrate with great splendor the Memorial of Jesus Christ’s Death. They do not participate even in elections and refuse state and national symbols (flag, hymn, etc.). In some extent, Jehovah’s Witnesses even mind higher education, considering that it impedes to serve Jehovah. Another inadmissible fact is that they refuse to carry arms and to use the latter for defensive purposes, as they consider that Satan has done numerous misdeeds on the Earth through servicemen in the course of all historical periods. In regard to this theme Armen Poghosyan has written the following in his book “Response to Jehovah’s Witnesses”, “It is another matter intentionally to murder someone with a weapon attacking first and possessing someone else’s belongings and quite a different matter to carry a weapon in order to protect yourself from those very phenomena. The same is the case also for nations and states”.

We consider it necessary to mention that according to the data published on the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses more than 450 Witnesses have been imprisoned because of avoidance to serve during the last 22 years.

In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses are willing light-heartedly and with a smile to welcome the invaders and destroyers of their land and residence (we do not mention “homeland” as they do not accept that either).

Almost every day we hear sad news about death or wounding of our soldiers serving in various districts of our small land. This ceaselessly reminds us about the fact that not the real peace reigns in our country and that every moment the war might break out, which we can defeat only in case of national unity and selfless innermost fight. And a subtle question arises: how the officially registered 11500 Jehovah’s Witnesses are going to act when the next massacre threatens our nation again? Will they stab us in the back? Will they wait huddled and idly? Or will they leave the country (with the prospects to return after our victory and to “enlighten” us)? Or?

After all we find it necessary to mention once more that Jehovah’s Witnesses considerably contribute to the formation of the anti-state atmosphere in Armenia.

Bayatyanagainst Armenia. The Consequences

VahanBayatyan, a citizen of the Republic of Armenia, was baptized as a Witness at age of 16. When he became 18, Bayatyan had to be called up for military service to serve his duty of “conscience and freedom” to his homeland which is in unstable war condition. However, Vahan started to send letters to the governmental bodies whereby he was asking for doing alternative civic service, as military service was against his conscience and beliefs. But soon the young man was arrested being accused of escaping military service and was sentenced to imprisonment for 2.5 years in 2003.

Armenia has been a member-country of EU since 2001, which gives right to Armenians to apply to the ECtHR (European Court of Human Rights) in case of need. Perhaps, having the assistance of the whole organization of Witnesses, Bayatyan, who had already served his sentence, applied to ECtHR mentioning that his right to refuse military service because of his beliefs had been infringed. ECtHR’s decision was not in Vahan’s favor on October, 2009. He again sued Armenia addressing the Grand Chamber of ECtHR which inquires particular cases. On July 2011 the Grand Chamber of ECtH in Strasburg (France) concluded that Armenia had violated Bayatyan’s right of freedom of conscience sentencing him to imprisonment for refusing to serve because of his beliefs. As a compensation, a payment of 20.000 euro was established, which after a short while was paid from the budget of the Republic of Armenia, paving “hospitable” way for Bayatyan’s friends sharing the same beliefs.

Several sensational trials of the same type followed this event. Especially important are “Bukharyan against Armenia” and “Tsaturyan against Armenia” trials. In the result the government of Armenia will have to repay about 112.000 euro from the state budget of the Republic of Armenia to 17 Jehovah’s Witnesses protesting for the same thing.

Perhaps under the influence of foreign forces new changes of the law came into effect on June 8, 2013, which give the Jehovah’s Witnesses the opportunity to carry out an alternative service in Armenia. In fact there are no sanctions on Jehovah’s Witnesses for refusing to serve today anymore. The draft of the “supplement” of the law was presented by the government of the Republic of Armenia. Its purpose was “to get rid of the shortcomings present in the current law” taking the decisions made against Armenia by the ECtHR and the conclusion of Venice Committee into consideration. The “Alternative Service” RA law was adopted in 2003 and has been put into force since 2004. Holding such a law was one of the obligations of Armenia before the Council of Europe. Those obligations took their final form after the changes in 2013. The government of Armenia discharged the last 14 Jehovah’s Witnesses that were imprisoned for being accused of refusal to serve in the army on November 12, 2013. More than 450 young Witnesses were imprisoned within the last 22 years. Today there are no imprisoned Witnesses in Armenia anymore. That is not enough that the government of Armenia passed the bill under the influence of foreign forces, thereupon they completely submitted the bill to European standards contributing to the smooth activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Armenia. Besides, the government repaid about 112.000 euro to 17 Witnesses in the result of different trials basing on Bayatyan’s trial.

Instead of a Conclusion

In the following articles we will touch upon the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in other countries. We will especially analyze their activities in Russia and Azerbaijan. Jehovah’s Witnesses are banned to propagate their literature in both countries by law. Numerous scandalous occurrences connected to Jehovah’s Witnesses have taken place in Azerbaijan. Especially important is the fact that some Azerbaijan media publish information whereby they consider the Witnesses to be “financed by Armenian Apostolic Church”.

We have tried to be impartial as far as possible while preparing the analyses, presenting the facts combined and leaving the suppositions mostly to the reader.

We want to mention that there is no intention to arise hostility against the representatives of the Watchtower. The problems are viewed from the perspective of national security. After centuries of suspension the grace to possess national state should be the pride of each of us, and to improve the motherland and preserve the unity should be the paramount objective of us all.


Bibliography

  1. GhevondMayilyan, “Modern Sects in Armenia”,
  2. Josh McDowell, Don Stewart, “Deceivers”,
  3. Armen Poghosyan, “Response to Jehovah’s Witnesses”,
  4. “Benefit from Theocratic Ministry School” published by the Watch Tower organization.
  5. gov.am
  6. jw.org
  7. religions.am

Author: Edgar Vardanyan: © All rights are reserved.

Translated by Tamara Sargsyan


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Jehovah’s Witnesses and Armenia: Part 1

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