Armenia registers Jehovah’s Witnesses
YEREVAN, Armenia—On October 11, 2004, at 5.30 p.m. the Central Agency of the State Registry of the Ministry of Justice handed the representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses the official certificate of registration of their religious organization in Armenia.
“This is a great day for us,” said Hrach Keshishyan, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Armenia. “We may now be able to enjoy the same civil rights and freedom of worship as our fellow believers in the rest of the world. We are truly grateful to the Armenian authorities for taking this courageous step in favor of religious freedom.”
The registration granted by the Ministry of Justice ends a nine-year history of registration applications—14 in all—the first one being filed on October 15, 1995. The decision to grant Jehovah’s Witnesses legal status is an indication of Armenia’s compliance with its commitments to the Council of Europe.
Keshishyan also stated: “We eagerly anticipate the immediate release of 15 young men, Jehovah’s Witnesses, currently in prison or in pretrial detention for their conscientious objection to military service.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world rejoice over the legal recognition in Armenia and hope that this recognition will pave the way for Armenia to resolve the long-standing issue of the young men who are Witnesses and whose Bible-trained conscience does not allow them to serve in the military. In its Resolution 1361 (2004), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe had ruled that those men “be released immediately by presidential pardon.”
There are approximately 8,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Armenia.
Contact: J. R. Brown, telephone: (718) 560-5600