Jehovah’s witnesses, Armenian Church priest accuse each other of violent conduct

Yerevan, Armenia - Jehovah’s Witnesses members accused of attacking a priest deny being the guilty party, while claiming it was rather the Armenian Apostolic Church servant who behaved aggressively in their respect.

Earlier this week media quoted Holy Trinity Church priest Ter Yesayi Artenyan as claiming that on Sunday, May 15, he asked two young people preaching near his church in Yerevan to leave the territory but in response they attacked him, hurled obscenities and threats “to bite his head off”. A criminal case had been instituted in connection with the incident on the hallmarks of “beating, threats and arbitrariness.”

Jehovah’s Witness organization spokesperson Tigran Harutyunyan told ArmeniaNow that the young Jehovah’s witnesses in question were at quite some distance from the church, talking to someone when a plainclothes person approached them and claimed it was “his territory” and demanded that “no more talk about the Bible be held there anymore.” According to Harutyunyan, the priest wanted to take pictures of the young men with his mobile phone, however the Jehovah’s witnesses opposed it and one of them closed the phone with his hand.

“Priest Artenyan, who grew angry because of all of that, stretched for Andranik Makvetsyan’s face, began to offend and curse him (remembering the latter’s parents, etc.), making threats and demanding that they calls their ‘bosses’,” said Harutyunyan in a letter sent to ArmeniaNow, adding that the young men left the area themselves, after which, however, in the evening they were summoned to the police where they gave explanations in connection with the incident.

Meanwhile, in an interview with ArmeniaNow, Fr. Yesayi Artenyan accused Jehovah’s Witnesses of telling a lie. He also said that in fact he did not suffer any bodily harm, even though he had to pass through a forensic examination, which is a standard procedure in similar investigations. The priest said one of the young men hit him on the hand, which, however, did not cause him pain.

“I simply turned to the police so that they give me protection, because alone I can no longer deal with Jehovah’s Witnesses preaching in the vicinity of the church,” said Artenyan, stressing that he did not demand that police institute criminal proceedings.