Why Javakhk is Important

A young Javakhk Armenian gazes at Armenia. Photo by Tamar Yardemian


Every day, the Armenians of the Samtskhe-Javakheti (Javakhk) region in Georgia face a harsh battle for survival. Yet through sheer will and determination, the community, which faces discrimination and insurmountable obstacles, is able to keep the Armenian identity alive, not for fear of assimilation but for the most basic of reasons: survival.

In the 20 years since Armenia’s independence and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the plight of the Armenians in Javakhk has not been center stage, simply because the life and death struggle to liberate Karabakh was, and continues to be at the fore, since it is so detrimental for the Armenian nation.

No one knows that better that the Armenians living in Javakhk, where vestiges of the Soviet regime are still very much part and parcel of daily life. Despite the unique position Georgia enjoys as a darling of the West, enough to prompt a Western-backed and orchestrated color revolution, official Tbilisi has not been willing to enact reforms and, through its arcane laws, discriminates against minorities living in Georgia by blocking their ability to enjoy basic and fundamental rights of practicing their religion and speaking their language. Armenians in Javakhk, who have lived there for centuries before being annexed to Georgia by Joseph Stalin, are being systematically persecuted and their right to life and liberty is being hampered on a daily basis.

This second-class citizen status is impeding Armenians from getting jobs, being represented in local and federal government structures and from teaching Armenian in schools. Furthermore, a state-sponsored campaign to crack down on the community has intensified, resulting in the arrest and incarceration of community activist and leaders on trumped up charges that often border on absurdity.

For its part, the Armenian government has not been willing or able to effectively address the plight of Javakhk Armenians. As a quick way out, the government has always scapegoated Armenia’s reliance on Georgia as a route to Russia and the Black Sea for its ineffective response to this humanitarian and national crisis. Even the Diaspora Ministry, with a stated mission of assisting communities outside of Armenia, has failed to address some of the basic needs of the Javakhk Armenians. A sadder reality facing Javakhk Armenians who flee their ancestral homes to settle in Armenia is the discrimination they face from locals.

Despite this bleak and dire existence, Javakhk Armenians are fighting for their rights. Whether it is through celebrating cultural and religious holidays or outlining the political demands for a better and more equitable treatment of Armenians, the community is advancing the Javakhk Cause through its own means and abilities.

Their demands from the Georgian authorities are to not impede the teaching of the Armenian language through state-sanctioned obstacles, which generally are manifested through financial cuts to Armenian schools or the restriction on teaching of history and religion. Another important stipulation is fair representation in local and federal elected offices and equal opportunity for employment. An end to random raids of community facilities and arrest of leaders is also of utmost importance in their demand for human rights. The people of Javakhk are convinced that the most logical way to realize their objectives and address the inequities of the current situation is through autonomy for Javakhk within a federated state of Georgia.

On constant that has kept the Javakhk movement in the forefront and has provided much-needed resources to the Armenians of Javakhk has been the Armenian Relief Society Javakhk Fund, which will host its annual fund-raiser on Sunday. Through this effort, the ARS has opened kindergartens, community centers and provided humanitarian assistance to people of Javakhk and has become a lifeline for the Armenians in Javakhk. The efforts of this initiative must be supported and the community should take more of an active role in Javakhk Fund activities.

The challenges facing Armenia, Karabakh and the entire Armenian nation are compounded by the realities facing the Armenians of Javakhk. Aside from Georgian government’s ill-treatment of Armenians, the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalak-Baku railway—almost entirely funded by Turkey and Azerbaijan—coupled with the planned settlement of Meskheti Turks in Javakhk proper threaten the very existence of this historic Armenian territory.

Javakhk is important for sole reason that it is a critical part of our national agenda, the success of which depends on the participation of all Armenians in ensuring that the aspiration of the people of Javakhk are heard and fulfilled.

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  1. www.Voskanapat.info said:

    They are going to settle Meskhetian Turks in Javakh in 2012 and restore masques for them that used to be Armenian churches – a project paid by the Government of Turkey.

    This “democratic” government of Georgia funded and protected by the US Government does not allow Armenian Church to even register in Georgia. They continue to steal Armenian churches and claim them as Georgian.

    Georgia also participates in the illegal blockade imposed on Armenia and Artsakh by Turkey and Azerbaijan by making transit from Armenia prohibitively expensive.

  2. ZARMAIR said:

    Georgia is not a friend of the Armenians. Their two faced black mail policy has done nothing but compromise Armenia’s position in the region. Remember this is the Country that produced Stalin and still keeps a standing statue of this greatest of mass murderers. The Iran Railway should have been the number one agenda of the Armenian government and should have been completed long ago.

    They dragged their feet…BIG MISTAKE!!!

  3. Shantagizoum said:

    My real name is Gaytzag Palandjian.Shantagizoum is when I get a bit heated up w/rgd to matters turco-azeri…
    Now then I am to e-mail to your editor, an article of mine entitled Äspirations of a free-lance patriot-Armenian affairs.I do trust it will see light of day.Published.If so i shall from now on contribute to your esteemed news weekly and also subscribe to it.In anticipation of your early and kind response,

  4. Avetis said:

    Javaxq is important simple because it’s on the way to the Black Sea…

  5. Seervart said:

    Dear Mr. Khatarouian, Why aren’t both the Diaspora and Armenia not working together to address these problems to the Georgian government through the United States and through Russia? At the same time, I am asking you to start at Asbarez a fundraising form Diaspora to help the Javakhktsis with their immediate economic needs. I find Javakhktsis to be very brave people to stay in Javakhtk their homeland for the sake of keeping Armenians alive in there despite all their economic problems through the years. Gentlemen, start a Fundraising and we should all back you up. However the most important way is that both Armenia and Diaspora together must address these problems to the world powers and through them to the Georgian government.

  6. Zviad said:

    Stop spreading the misinformation. Javakheti has always been a part of Georgia. Georgia has never annexed it. Armenian settlements started to appear there in 19th century as they started to move from Turkey. With such lies you will never help the Armenians of Samtskhe-Javakheti.

    • maggar said:

      zviad ,i guess in your world stalin was an angel in its purest form? a lover of freedom , a real santa clause . History not our opinion states that javakh did belong to the armenians and was politically
      decided to be given to the georgians. but it is true georgians are unfortunately worse than turks .
      the turks know who they are .the georgians neither here nor their ,they seek the highest payer .

      • Dato said:

        Maggar, stop this kind of policy. Why do you need another enemy that will be together with Azeris and you will be isolated from all neighbors very soon. Stop this Utopia!!

    • www.Voskanapat.info said:

      Zviad has hard time learning history. Let alone the ancient history. He seems to have amnesia about what happened in Georgia after Zviad Gamsakhurdia, their first president after the collapse of the Soviet Union came up with a Nazi slogan: “Georgia for Georgians!”

      This started a campaign of persecution and ethnic cleansing against the numerous minorities of this little Georgian Empire artificially created by Ioseb Jughashvili aka Stalin. Abkhaz, Ossetian and other native peoples of that land were attacked by Georgian Nazi forces and had to protect themselves. After the most recent 2008 brutal attack on civilians ordered by the current Georgian president Abkhazia and South Ossetia finally became independent internationally recognized states.

      Instead of learning from their mistakes, nationalist like this Zviad continue their old Nazi propaganda denying the remaining minorities the right to exist.

      In order to drive Javakh Armenians from their native lands they use complete economic and cultural blockade of Armenian communities, arrest and illegally imprison local Armenian leaders, settle Meskhetian Turks and Georgians from other regions of the country in Javakh and blackmail Armenia by threatening to support Turkish and Azeri blockade.

    • Hripsime said:

      Zviad why do you afraid of truth? Yes the Truth is bitter but you Georgians can not ignore it and wont be able to ignore Armenain Society in Javakhk!
      More over I suggest you that be careful of Turkish colonization!
      At the end I should remind you not to forget to remember how much your lose was funny when Russia attacked Georgia! First go and think about restoring your country after war then yapping about Javakhk ok?

  7. Defender of occupied Javakhk said:


    I hope you are an open minded person, so that whatever I say, will be helpful in your education.

    Throughout the history Javakhk was populated by majority Armenians and most of the times was ruled by Armenians. It is also true that it was sometimes ruled by others like the central asian invading tribes, the turks and the soviets.

    We understands that the Georgian government and church are doing everything to either destroy or convert the historal Armenian churches, to remove all armenian ancient traces in our Javakhk.
    Everything is well documented and one day you will regret for the crimes against the peaceful Javakhk Armenian population by the Georgian government, but it will be too late. We are not going to forgive you this time.
    Soon, God will grant a bright future and freedom to the javakhk Armenians and will punish the Georgians.

    By the way if you are interested, next time I’ll teach you a lesson about the Georgian capital of Tpilisi, which was built and prospered due to the Armenians. We shall never claim that Tpilisi belongs to Armenians. We shall always claim that Javakhk was/is Armenian.

  8. Seervart said:

    Akhalkalak, Akhaltsekha and Javakhk are and have been Armenian lands all along.

  9. Stephen T. Dulgarian said:

    The Armenian Government has failed to help the Javakhtsi Armenians in their plight to unite with their brothers in Armenia. Other ethnic groups have split away in Georgia and it is hard to understand why the Javakhtsi’s have not. Do they need arms and outside help, then the Armenian Government should react before it is too late. Doesn’t anyone relize what Stalin under the Soviet Regime did to the Armenian People. A demonstration at the Georgian Embassies must be done all over the world. Stephan Dulgarian

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