Armenian clerics injured in Tbilisi’s Surb Etchmiadzin Church attack

Armenian clerics injured in Tbilisi’s Surb Etchmiadzin Church attack

PanARMENIAN.Net - A pre-planned attack, motivated by ethnic and religious hatred, was perpetrated on the representatives of the Armenian Church of Surb Etchmiadzin in Tbilisi, the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Georgia said.

According to the Democracy and Freedom Watch, on July 19, at around 4 pm, a provocation was organized on the church-adjacent territory.

A woman was trying to drive her car out of the area adjacent to the church, but was unsuccessful and started to express dissatisfaction towards the cleric at the Armenian Church claiming his car was blocking the way for her own to car in the parking area.

At that moment, two aggressively disposed men approached and helped to get the car out. The cleric entered the administrative building of Armenian Church.

Then there were young deacons in the yard, who heard that the men were verbally insulting Armenians. They protested. A man left the car, took a baton and a stone and again insulted and attempted to hit the representatives of the Armenian Diocese.

Hearing a noise from outside, other clerics came out into the yard in order to defuse the situation, when the man hit one of clerics on his back. A short fight followed.

Two hours after the incident, the man returned with a group of about 50 men. Some of them were armed with cold weapons. They approached the church and got into a scuffle with the clerics and employees of the diocese, while verbally insulting Armenians. People attending a Christening ceremony inside the church came out into the yard and the men attacked them too.

“Women and children, shocked by what they had seen, hid in the church,” the statement reads.

As a result of the attack, clerics and employees of the Armenian Diocese got physical injuries. One of the men tore a cross off one priest and walked away with it.

The Armenian Church called on law enforcement bodies to thoroughly investigate the Saturday incident as a crime committed on ethnic and religious grounds.

The Armenian Church called on the media to avoid promoting anti-Armenian attitudes in society, urging Georgia’s Orthodox Church to publicly condemn any actions based on ethnic and religious hatred.

“For many centuries, we have been concerned with the internal stability of Georgia and interethnic and interreligious relations, and we call on the Georgian government to take all necessary measures in order to avoid ethnic and religious separation of Georgian society.”

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