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Armenia: Bloggers Throw Funeral at Georgian Embassy

Categories: Central Asia & Caucasus, Armenia, Georgia, Digital Activism, Ethnicity & Race, Governance, History, Human Rights, Ideas, International Relations, Politics, Protest, Religion

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 [1] of the march, ahousekeeper says [2] 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 [3] he knows who participated in the protest. An E-Channel post quotes one participant, Hayk Balanyan who blogs at infernorarm [4], as saying in Armenian [5]:

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 [6] 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 [7] 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 [8] 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 [9], juventini [10] 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.