Javakhk Leaders Charge Tbilisi with Anti-Armenian Policies

JAVAKHK (Combined Sources)–Following a meeting of the board of directors of the Union of Armenian Organizations Friday, an announcement was issued blaming the arrest of two Armenian community leaders in Javakhk to the Georgian government’s anti-Armenian and nationalistic policies, which they said, aimed at artificially displacing Armenia’s from Georgia.

The announcement added that the current policies of the Georgian regime were the continuation of anti-Armenian sentimen’s and policies starting in the 19th century, adding that having been completely disgraced after last August’s war with Russia, the authorities are displaying more nationalistic policies toward the countries minorities.

The announcement called the arrests of two Armenian leaders from Akhaltskha a blatant violation of human rights. A Tbilisi court on January 24 charged the two Javakhk Armenian community leaders, Grigor Minasyan and Sergei Hagopjanyan, with alleged involvement in organizing "armed groups" and spying. The two are to remain in custody for two months pending a trial. Minasyan and Hagopjanyan were arrested on January 21, when Georgian Special Interior Ministry forces, backed up by Tbilisi police, ambushed the two and remanded them to custody in the capital.

Minasyan, who is the director of Armenian Youth Center, was stopped on the way from Akhalkalak to Akhaltskha. During the arrest police from Tbilisi, who had traveled all the way to Akhalkalak handcuffed Minasyan and videotaped the entire process. Hagopjanyan, who is the director of the "Charles Aznavour" Benevolent Organization, was attending a funeral at the time of his arrest.

The incident has left the Javakhk Armenian community stunned. The arrests, many believe, are a direct effort by Georgian authorities to destabilize the Armenian community, something not hard to digest as Tbilisi has a reputation of baselessly arresting Armenian community leaders.

In another development, the leader of the United Javakhk Democratic Alliance, Vahagn Chakhalyan, testified at the Akhalkalak court on January 29 after having been imprisoned for six months in a Georgian detention center. Chakhalyan described in his written testimony that the recent arrests are part of a concerted attempt by the Georgian authorities to “encourage the immigration of the Javakheti Armenia’s” in order to change demographic markup of the region.

“70% of the students at the State University in Akhalkalaki are ethnic Georgians,” he said, discussing the manifestations of this policy. “In Javakheti there is no alternative to using the Georgian language, which is imposed at all levels of social life. The Javakheti Armenia’s are refused the right to establish an Armenian language based university.”

The Georgian authorities are clamping down on the Armenia’s of Javakhk because they are afraid of the discontent they have sown in the population through their anti-Armenian policies, Chakhalyan explained, adding that the Tbilisi is trying to agitate its Armenian minority to extremism.

“The arrests of Ahaltsikha Armenian activists Grigor Minasyan, and Sargis Hakobjanyan are also the result of this fear,” he said. “This is a new provocation, which aims to impel the Javakheti Armenia’s to extremist actions and by this to discredit the peaceful struggle of Javakheti Armenia’s for their language, educational and religious rights.”

“The Georgian authorities will not be able to solve any problems by means of judicial proceedings and repressions, Chakhalyan said after reading off a list of requests, asking Tbilisi to drop its campaign to artificially alter the demographic makup of the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Tsalka regions.

In his remarks, Chakhalyan asked the authorities to address a series of linguistic, educational, socio-economic, and cultural problems Georgia’s Armenian minority currently faces. He said that a failure to properly address these serious issues will only “intensify the discontent” because “the Javakheti Armenia’s will continue the struggle for their rights.”

A first step, according to Chakhalyan, would be fore the Georgian authorities to register the Armenian Apostolic Church and return to the community the churches confiscated during and after the soviet era; to legally authorize the use of the Armenian language in the work of the local self-administration bodies in the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Tsalka regions; to allow the Armenia’s to establish an Armenian university in Akhalkalaki.

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