Armenian College in Calcutta Under Lock-Down; Students Blame Etchmiadzin Designated Director

CALCUTTA–The Armenian Philanthropic College in Calcutta is under emergency lock-down by the school’s administration, according to students who eluded strict restrictions to report the situation, Hetq Investigative Journalism reported.

The state of emergency was instated by College Director Father Khoren Hovhannisyan, who was appointed by the Holy See of Etchmiadzin to administer the school.

The situation arose after two students, Andranik Gevorgyan and Hayk Poghosyan, were unable to correctly recite poetry they had been assigned to memorize. As punishment, Father Hovhannisyan, stripped the students of their rights for one month.

According to Hetq, an attempt by senior students to meet with Father Hovhannisyan to calm the situation, led to the principle accusing Gevorgyan, a student at the school for eight years, of conspiring against him.

Hovhannisyan is said to have given the student twenty minutes to pack his bags and leave for Armenia. Gevorgyan, however, refused to comply leading the principle to call the police, who quickly arrived on the scene.

Citing reports from the school, Hetq said the students then proceeded to barricade the entrance to the school to prevent the police from removing Gevorgyan.

The students had closed off the entrance to the school, not allowing them to remove Andranik. We should remind readers that Etchmiadzin is responsible for the students’ status while in India.

According to students, the college, officially managed by the Holy Sea of Echmiadzin, has experienced tumultuous times since the appointment of Father Hovhannisyan, who has enforced a rigid disciplinary regime on campus. Over the course of his tenure, Hovhannisyan has earned the reputation of being an unyielding and unacceptable administrator. Earlier this year, he used vulgar language to insult a young female student who was unable to read from the Divine Liturgy.

Hetq last reported that two additional police cars had arrived on the scene and all forms of communication had been taken from the students. The students were, however, able to reach the school’s administrative and former director Sonya Jon, as well as local newspapers. The besieged students were also able to inform their parents in Armenia.

Etchmiadzin has said it will comment on the matter on Friday.

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14 Comments

  1. Hratch said:

    Perhaps Mr. Hovanessian is mentally unstable. A review board should investigate the incident and remove Mr. Hovanessian from his capacity if found guilty. Otherwise, this will reflect negatively on other Armenian institutions around the world. With our large diaspora, we need to stay vigilant and promote transparency in order to promote our presents.

  2. VAHE said:

    Armenian schools (non religious) are not inheritance of Echmiadzin or Antelias.
    These 2 religious power points should not interefere with regular education since they are not upto the standards of running modern day schools.
    The mismanagement and poor condition of Echmiadzin’s properties in Armenia is live evidence that these people are not competent.
    Specially Echmiadzin as self centered entity with lack of management skills should be kept away from management.
    Nevermind of their financial balance sheet and embazlement of immigrants savings left in trust with them.

  3. Tomik Shabani said:

    I was a student at Armenian Collage in 1988. Just want to say: good job guys.

  4. Araxi said:

    Not good news. These poor kids are thousands of miles away from their parents and homeland. The Catholicos should call back his nominated ‘so called’ Director. Child abuse is a disgrace. These kids have a right to be heard!
    Stop the bullying and thuggery. We have here a «Տեր Թոդիկի դպրոց»: Դպրոցը դպրեվանք չի:
    I call upon all ex-students of Armenian College across the world to file a petition against the situation in Calcutta and call upon the Catholicos to take immediate action.

  5. Helena Cray said:

    Fr. Khoren has no humility as a Pastor, he was after all derobed a few years ago, and his punishment upon return to the seminary was … See Moreexile to where else but the ACPA. Shame on Etchmiadzin, shame on Vehapar for sending him amongst innocent children. I clearly recall another pastor who a few years ago was serving in the community of Kolkata, he raped a young boy named Ararat who returned to Iran and later committed suicide. Let this bit of news also be known to all. Shame on Etchmiadzin for sending such trash who hide behind their robes and committ such acts of malice against innocent children. WE WANT OUR SCHOOL BACK VEHAPAR, AND YOU BETTER RETURN IT SOOON!!!
    And to all of you here who are trying to protect the name of the church, you will rot in hell. Do not use the Lord’s name in vain!!
    Have you thought for a second why our priests are called ‘HOGEVORAGAN’?

  6. Սարգիս said:

    ARMENIAN GENERAL BENEVOLENT UNION ‘MEMBERS OF DIASPORA’

    CONCERNED ISSUE: ARMENIAN COLLEGE & PHILANTROPIC ACADEMY KOLKATA-INDIA

    Dear reader,

    we at ARMENIAN GENERAL BENEVOLENT UNION are and have always been concerned about the Armenian Diaspora.The news about the Armenian College and Philantropic Academy has been shocking.The corrupted manager Fr Khoren,who does not have a good profile in his service to the church even,does not think of the students welfare although he claims so.

    The articles that have been released recently about the school explain the reality that treathens each student’s life who are living there away from there families with a hope of a bright future.The students are not allowed to speak for their rights and any criticism of the manager leads to expulsion from the school.

    we,hereby,request all who are concerned to take action against the manager,who has not a good profile even in the church,we request you to contact the people concerned for the betterment of the school and the students.

    The students need to be safe and action is required as soon as possible.We request you to contact the head church in Armenia and seek immediate action.

    The present situation if continues will only be a shame for the whole Armenian Diaspora all over India and the world.

    The Armenian Diaspora in India is known for the life of its only academy ‘Armenian college & Philantropic Academy’ in kolkata,we need to save the school and the student’s future.

    The current funds are enough to provide the students with the utmost & the best so why shouldnt the school run under the best hands?

    We request the church to make changes in the management immidaitely.

    Thanking you,

    ARMENIAN GENERAL BENEVOLENT UNION ‘MEMBERS OF DIASPORA’

    p.s To help the current students please forward this letter to as many people as you can,spesially all FORMER STUDENS & ARMENINA DIASPORA

    Help Armenian College.LET THEM KNOW THE TRUTH. WE NEED CHANGE.

  7. vartan said:

    What is happening in the school is disgusting. THEY have treated INDIA and the school and for that matter all org in INDIA like SH***T for too long.
    It doesn’t mean there is tons of money in India so we have to treat the place and the precious kids this way. May be its FAR away. May we Armenians from outside INDIA look down at Indians. Lets face it we are racist. HH should have sent not priest but educated, cultured and qualified person in charge.

    This is what happens when religious person comes in contact with $$$.

    Napoleon was right…… if it was not for religion the poor would have finished off the rich a long time ago.

  8. Alen Geragousian said:

    As being one of the Armenian collage X student,I would call for an absolute and immediate action…As one of our above X students mentioned… These Kidd’s are there at the collage from thousands of miles away from there parents and some director being such an ego-phobic as to have the police on the Seine for some out there that are just in there early teens and learning stages of life… Is this how you grow them educated to face the challenges of life in the outside world?It is time for us all to get together and have this wrapped up once and for all since this is doing no good other then bringing shame a disgrace to the Armenian community around the world……

    Saddened and hope it will all come to a mutual understanding!!!

  9. Joseph said:

    Mismanagement is not uncommon in the ACPA, we have all experienced it at variuos stages (I was a student in ACPA from 1987-2000). when the school was handed over to Ejmiatsin years ago, it was to settle an old rivalry between Sonia John and the old management, and it was the only solution that both parties accepted. the funny thing is that Mrs. John was the one who recommended the move since she was given clear assurance from Ejmiatsin that she would take over as the manager, not knowing she herself would be kicked out later. That’s the reason she’s become such a bitter enemy of the Rector herself.
    My point is this : The school should be run by people who have lived and been educated in India since they know the system and they would understand the students which is the most important issue here.
    No clergy is fit to manage any educational institution, if they could they would prevent the sexual and the drug abuse in the seminaries itself.
    @ Helena Cray, I dont know where you got the report that Ararat was raped, but I can tell you no such thing happened to him, he was going through a very hard time due to his life as a child in Iran..(he was burnt by his mother once). his suicide was due to the mental turmoil he was going through.

    Anyway guys well done I support you , since I was a rebel myself and even I was asked to leave school.

  10. Alen Geragousian said:

    As a X student and based on my personal experiences that I have had and made during my stay In the Armenian collage from 1988 to 1997 would be zero tolerance I would have for any Highly qualified priest who was appointed to be the director of the school to be abusive to my child… If you really were a priest..you would never have solved things by calling no police!!! Second off all..If the Armenian collage administrators were caring enough they would not have sent our friend Ararat Mekert back to Iran ….Who was an orphan young adolescent that almost of everybody that studied there during my time would know who I am referring about back to Iran where he use ta spend his nights on park benches and bag for his survival on the streets of Tehran by pan handling during the day..All you guys that mismanage the churches funds and make Kidd’s pack there stuff and be sent back to where they came from in 20 minutes….All of that will come back to you guys.. Its a no brainer..There is a saying which says.. what goes round. comes around… So my dear friend khoren.. you will get to where you are running to..its just matter of time…Based on studies that were conducted her In the US…Almost 60% of Kidd’s that finished there schooling from The Armenian collage came out to have no self esteem…..The question should be asked…Why? According to Psychologist Alen Haze.. It was cause of the physical,mental, and other emotional problems that they went through…Is really somebody here really needed by the name of Khoren to be appointed to ring the Kidd’s out of school with psychological symptoms and other dis-formalities…Sir Please leave or you will be removed anonymously…You have caused us enough pain…No more please… Lets vote guys…Only guys Can vote that are in the US!!!

  11. Vazken said:

    ‘Hey, teachers, leave the kids alone…’, send the tyrant administartor (or prison guard) back home.

  12. Gor Gevorgyan said:

    i have been a student of Armenian College from 2002 to 2009 and ill say this its the students that make for you all a future not you administration that take the money but write in the papers that the students are perfect in the hostel but you all outside people i call you all just do a sudden visit to the college and see the conditions the students live in, the food they get and the way the live . . .

  13. Steve (Antranick) Carapiet said:

    I returned twice to Cal having been raised there till I was ten. Once with Fr. Osh. and the other with this one. I agree with most of what is said here. The trust factor being my main concern. Having been a teacher for 37 yrs in Canada I can tell you from my experience these students are being taught as if they were in the dark ages. These so called leaders do not want any help that’s offered free of charge. They are a suspicious lot and it’s understandable. People with that kind of suspicion have something to hide. We went there and were as transparent as possible only to find that the system is indeed corrupt. School and church at it’s worst. Good luck guys, I’ve seen enough. Non armenians in the pockets, armenians in the pockets. The kids wind up the losers. Makes me sick.

  14. david geragoosian said:

    I have read all the comments that came up, and I am distraught and taken back. First and foremost, I think this is a case of complete overreaction and mismanagement….Mr. Khoren you did what, sir? How dare you expose the Armenian College and the loving students of it to such disgrace? You decided to deport a student back to Armenia by calling the local police? The reason? because the student in question wasn’t able to “recite” a poetry? What criteria did you have to meet to acquire this job? clearly sir, you’re incompetent for this position and to implicate the students in such psychological abuse is preposterous and unacceptable. For your king information (FYI) we have had such management in the past and the result was very dismal…Having said that, I demand your immediate resignation form the Armenian College Calcutta and any other administrator for that matter. You have shown no worthiness to hold such a precious position at a College very dear to me and many of my ex fellow students…To all the College students involved in this fiasco, I applaud you for your unity and encourage unity in subsequent matters that may arise…..Well done guys!! David Geragoosian

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