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Armenia: Bloggers Throw Funeral at Georgian Embassy

Carrying a black casket labeled “The Newborn Georgian Democracy,” a group of bloggers in Yerevan have marched toward the Georgian Embassy protesting what they call the destruction and desecration of Armenian cultural monuments in neighboring Georgia. Bloggers tell the story.

Posting a YouTube video of the march, ahousekeeper says the bloggers’ November 27, 2008 action was “[i]n response to regular desecrations, vandalism and attempts (often successful) to appropriate Armenian churches by Georgian clerics.”

Another blogger, 517 design [RU], posts photographs of the action and links to nine other bloggers he knows who participated in the protest. An E-Channel post quotes one participant, Hayk Balanyan who blogs at infernorarm, as saying in Armenian:

Հայերի համար Վրաստանը միշտ էլ մոտիկ երկիր է եղել։ Բայց վերջին 5 տարիների փորձը ցույց տվեց մի բան, որ այդ երկիրը շարժվում է դեպի ֆաշիզմ։ … Մեզ հետաքրքրում է մի բան՝ կատարվում է հանցագործություն, բացահայտ խուլիագնություն. գերեզմաններ են քանդում,
փոշիացնում են պատմական հուշարձաններ:

For Armenians, Georgia has always been a close country. But the experience of the last five years shows that [Georgia] is moving toward fascism… All that interests us is one thing – a crime, blatant hooliganism is going on: [Georgians] are destroying Armenian cemeteries, reducing historic monuments to dust.

The recent controversy surrounds the removal of Armenian gravestones from Norashen, a church that Georgian priests are accused of taking over. Several days ago England-based Armenian blogger Mark Grigorian [Ru], a journalist in exile, reported and commented on desecrations at Norashen:

…когда к церкви “Норашен” прибыл член парламента Грузии, этот священник сказал, что лишь временно передвигал камни, “чтобы ПОЧИСТИТЬ под надгробными камнями…”

Представляете? Почистить под (!) могильными камнями!

[…]

Интересно, грузинское общество снова промолчит?

When a member of Georgia’s parliament arrived at the Norashen church [to inquire about removal of Armenian gravestones], that [Georgian] priest said stones were temporarily removed “so that to CLEAN under the tombstones.”

Can you imagine? Clean under the gravestones!

[…]

It’s interesting; will the Georgian society be silent again?”

Grigorian’s information came from another blogger, vesta923, who had posted information and photographs about the gravestone removals. The blogger was one of the participants of the November 27 “funeral.” The news, nonetheless, broke at an online Russian-language Armenian forum Hayastan in mid-November, when user Nick posted photos he had taken at the Norashen church.

While the overwhelming majority of Armenian bloggers seem to be in support of the protest at the Georgian Embassy, a blogger from Tbilisi cautions not to generalize all Georgians in such actions.

Commenting on pigh’s post, juventini says:

[…]

Самое обидное, что многие сейчас подумают, что все грузины такие и что к армянам там ужасно относятся, но это, конечно же не так. Мы (тбилисские армяне), всегда жили и продолжаем жить дружно с грузинами и не жалуемся.

[…]

Most troubling, many now will think that all Georgians are like that and that Armenians are treated [in Georgia] horribly. We, Tbilisi Armenians, always lived and will continue living with Georgians in friendship and [we are] not complaining.
  • Pingback: Armenia & the South Caucasus | The Caucasian Knot » Georgia: Global Voices on Armenian Church Desecration Scandal()

  • lisa snyder

    t about the physical distruction of georgians by Armenians in Abkhazia?

    http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-152958

  • lisa snyder

    Armeia has got an agenda agaist georgia for a long time and someone needs to stop them now!

  • lisa snyder

    I just wonder is there any georgian church, Georgian school or a georgian theatre in Armenia? Georgia has numerous armenian churches, schools and a theatre for them in Tbilisi and other cities.

  • Lisa, I don’t know about Georgian churches, but there used to be 14 mosques which don’t exist now. Saw photos of the Azerbaijani ones from the first quarter of the 20th Century in Kond, a district of Yerevan, but now the minarets have gone and they’ve been turned into houses.

    http://oneworld.blogsome.com/2005/12/18/living-in-a-mosque/

    As it stands, there’s only one mosque standing (and working), and that’s Iranian. Otherwise, I’ve wondered about whether there were Georgian churches in Armenia, but haven’t been able to find anything on the Internet. Otherwise, I would personally agree that the blogger action was part of an agenda against Georgia.

    However, the actual desecration of the church in Tbilisi is wrong. Unfortunately, nationalism breeds nationalism.

  • BTW: It should be remembered that the number of Georgians in Armenia is really insignificant in size. Even the largest minority, the Yezidis, only number 42,000 with Assyrians and Molokans less than 10,000 combined (in total, minorities make up 2 percent of the population following the tit-for-tat expulsions and exodus of Azerbaijanis from Armenia and vice-versa). In Georgia, Armenians make up 5.7 percent of the population.

  • Ok, found this about Georgian churches in Armenia:

    As the Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church told ArmeniaNow, in late April Holy Echmiadzin indeed asked the Georgian Orthodox Church to transfer under its jurisdiction six idling Armenian churches in the territory of Georgia. The matter concerned five churches situated in Tbilisi (Norashen, Mugnetsots Surb Gevorg, Surb Minas, Karmir Avetaranots, Surb Nshan) and the church of Surb Nshan situated within the limits of the town of Akhaltsikh. This initiative of the Armenian side aroused indignation of the Georgian Orthodox Church as a result of which the latter demanded a transfer under its protection six orthodox chapels in Armenia.

    “The Armenian Apostolic Church had no other option, as we become witnesses of a policy of mass Georgianization of Armenian churches in the territory of Georgia and there is a necessity simply to save the cultural heritage of the Armenian people,” representative of the Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church Fr. Narek Ghushyan said in an ArmeniaNow interview. “Unlike many countries, including Armenia, Georgia has no law on religious freedoms and therefore the Georgian Synod considers the activities of, in particular, the Armenian Apostolic Church in its territory not quite competent. We do not mind providing the Georgian side with orthodox churches situated in the territory of Armenia, however we are not content with the aggressive nature of the Georgian Orthodox Church’s policy.”

    Presumably, this problem will be discussed during the visit of Patriarch-Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II to Georgia planned for the near future. As an assistant to the bishop of the Georgian diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church said in an interview with “Rezonansi”, the issue of the status of Georgian churches in the territory of Armenia has not been discussed yet. But Holy Echmiadzin provided a small Georgian community one of the churches in Yerevan for performing liturgies according to an orthodox rite.

    http://armenianow.com/?action=viewArticle&AID=1616&CID=1731&IID=&lng=eng

  • There is at least one Georgian church that I know of – almost in ruins – in northern Armenia which was (as of a few years ago) used as a storage area by locals – something that some consider desecration. It has some Georgian inscriptions and was built by a a Georgian queen.

    Coming to Mosques, Yerevan also had several dozen churches (now has a handful). Many places of worship were destroyed during the Soviet times (including some Armenian churches in Georgia). So, Onnik, you can’t say “Armenians” have only left two mosques in Yerevan. But I think what needs to be done is a research that documents the history of mosques in Yerevan. I’d like to see something like that.

    To answer Lisa’s general question, Armenians have had a long presence in Georgia, and along with Russians consisted majority in Tbilisi in the 19th century. So Georgians were a minority in Tbilisi at that time, and Armenians were a minority in Yerevan the same time, and Azeris were a minority in Baku at the same time. Nationalism changed it all.

  • Simon, I totally agree, but those bloggers who did the action are trying to push the destruction of churches in Tbilisi during the Soviet era as part of some nasty Georgian conspiracy. My point is that the same thing happened to Armenian churches as well as mosques here as well. Anyways, which is the Georgian church? Not Kobayr, I guess. It’s full of Georgian inscriptions, but people say it’s Armenian. To be honest, that sounds a bit weird, but on the other hand I can’t find any reference to it being Georgian on the Internet. I’d like to find the Georgian churches, however, and also Azerbaijani graveyards. Any idea where they are?

  • Incidentally, Simon, two mosques? I only thought there was one — the Iranian Blue Mosque on Mashtots. Where’s the other one?

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