Vahagn Chakhalyan condemns attack on Armenian Church in Tbilisi

Vahagn Chakhalyan, an Armenian activist from Akhalkalak, has issued a statement condemning the recent incident at an Armenian Church in Tbilisi, during which a group of people attacked priests in the church.

The people of Javakh condemn the attack on Surb Etchmiadzin Church in Tbilisi that took place on July 19, 2014.

“Similar harassment on an Armenian sanctuary in broad daylight is not only unacceptable and reprehensible, but also punishable by law. Therefore, in order to prevent any attempt to split national and religious components in Georgia, we call on Georgia’s law enforcement bodies and political bodies to immediately reveal and publicize the participants of the attack motivated by ethnic and regions hatred and make them accountable.

We reaffirm our political will to continue the struggle for the rights and safety of Armenians in Georgia,” said Vahagn Chakhalyan.

About 50 people attacked priests at Surb Etchmiadzin Church in Tbilisi on Saturday, July 19. The Armenian Orthodox Church says the attack was motivated by religious and ethnic prejudice.

The Church issued a statement later saying that the provocation took place at about 16:00. A gerorgian woman was trying to drive her car out of the area adjacent to the church, but was unsuccessful as there were many other cars parked nearby. She expressed dissatisfaction towards the cleric at the Armenian Church who came to help the angered woman. But the woman refused their help and telephoned her acquaintances who came and helped her to get the car out. The deacons in the yard heard them insulting Armenians, specifically the Church.  Several clergymen approached and called the group to order but they continued badmouthing and even hit one of clerics. This led to a scuffle. However, the group left the area in a short while.

In the evening, a group of about 50 men reappeared in the territory of the Churchs. Some of them were armed with cold weapons. They got into a scuffle with the clerics and severly beat three representatives of the Church – Priest Ter ManukZeynalyan , Levon Isakhanyan head of the department of legal issues of the Church and Robert Isakhanyan. The assailants also tore a cross off one priest and took it with him. People attending a Christening ceremony inside the church came out into the yard and the men attacked them too. Women and children, shocked by what they had seen, hid in the Church. Before the arrival of the police, Karen Yeritsyan shot several times in the air and silenced the assailants. A criminal case has been opened in connection with the incident. Levon Isakhanyan has sustained serious physical injuries.

Witnesses say the assailants were filled with hatred towards Armenians.