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Two views on Javakhk’s problems2009-03-25 15:12
The Armenians living in the Georgian region of Javakheti are no longer hoping to be given any help by Yerevan to solve their ethnic problems. They have not found any understanding among their compatriots. In Armenia it is thought that all the problems experienced by the Georgian Armenians are notably socio-economic in nature. Therefore Javakhk activists have again, for the umpteenth time, appealed to the Georgian authorities, laying out their grievances one by one.
Four Javakhk socio-political organizations - Virk, the Akunk union, the Javakhk movement and the Union of Intellectuals - are once again having to remind the Georgian authorities about their problems. The activists note that the "future existence of the Armenian population in Javakhk and the consolidation of Armenian-Georgian friendship" depend on these being solved. The Armenian organizations presented Tbilisi with ten demands: to provide local government bodies with broader powers; to grant the Armenian language regional status; to guarantee the provision of human rights; to maintain the demographic composition of the region; to remove the obstacles hampering links between Javakhk and Armenia; to eliminate the persecution of activists; to remove the
barriers for crossing the Armenian-Georgian border; to make amendments to the education system taking into account Armenian cultural characteristics; to carry out events aimed at preserving Armenian culture; and to devise laws to stimulate investment in the region.
The anxiety of the Georgian Armenians over the fate of their diaspora is understandable. There are sufficient reasons for this concern. The situation surrounding the Javakhk political prisoner, Vaagn Chakhalyan, for one. Up until his arrest, he was speaking out in support of the protection of Armenian churches, to which the Georgian Patriarchy is laying claim. The trial of his case is being accompanied by numerous legal infringements. And a few days ago, as the newspaper Armenian Daily reported, an attempt was made to provoke Chakhalyan into starting a fight in the penal colony in order to besmirch the character of the arrested man.
Another example of Tbilisi's national policies is the practice of the "Georgification" of local Armenians. As the expert for the news agency "Mitk", Armine Simonyan, writes, in return for a payment of some sort, Javakhk residents are being offered to "find" Georgian roots in the archives and replace the "-yan" ending of their surname with the more appropriate "shvili" or "dze" ending. "The Georgian authorities are stopping at nothing in their policy of assimilation, and are using all forms of psychological, physical and material blackmail," he notes.