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Jehovah’s Witness Imprisoned for Insulting Clergy Member in Armenia

On Nov. 28, the Court of General Jurisdiction of Malatia-Sebastia Administrative District of Yerevan sentenced Jehovah’s Witness Andranik Makvetsyan to 6 months in prison.

He was found guilty of insulting a member of the clergy and for violating the lawful activities of the priest in the vicinity of the church.

Recall, on May 15, local media reported that Father Yesayi Artenyan (pictured) of the Holy Trinity Church in the Yerevan neighborhood of Malatia-Sebastia prohibited two Jehovah’s Witnesses, Andranik Makvetsyan and Samvel Grigoryan, from preaching on church property, after which he received threats from them.

Speaking to Epress.am following the incident earlier this year, press officer of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Armenia Tigran Hayrapetyan described what happened, according to the version presented by Makvetsyan and Grigoryan.

“At around 9 am on May 15, 2011, the people noted above were speaking to an elderly man near the Shiraz statue, quite a way off from the church in the southeastern district. After the conversation was over, a green Ford make of car approached them. A person in civilian clothes came out of the vehicle, stood behind them and asked their names, then threateningly said this is his territory and demanded that they no longer talk to people about the Bible there. The youth asked for an appropriate document from him. The person in question, whose identity as a priest became known during the conversation, got upset and, aggressively spewing offensive and degrading words at them, demanded their address and phone numbers. As noted by the youth, the priest had raised his voice so much that the people standing at the bus stop in front were looking at him.

“Then the priest in civilian clothes, taking his phone from his pocket, attempted to photograph the youth. One of the youth put up his hand in front of the camera phone and didn’t permit him to photograph him. Irritated by all this, Fr. Artenyan, putting his hands up to Andranik Makvetsyan’s face, began to dishonor and curse (recalling the latter’s parents and so on) and threatened [them] and demanded they call their ‘bosses.’ Removing his hands from his face, Andranik tried to call the priest to order so that the latter won’t speak to him with indecent words and threats. Thus, seeing that his dignity was violated in a public space, the conversation is getting heated and becoming uncontrollable, he [Andranik] gives his address and phone number, after which an elderly person takes Fr. Artenyan off to one side. Then the youth leave. The same day, Makvetsyan gets a call from Shahumyan police, being informed that Fr. Yesayi Artenyan has filed a complaint against Andranik. In the evening, at around 7:30 pm, the aforementioned youth go to the police division and present an explanation of the incident.”