The Amnesty International has released a report on discrimination of Jehova’s Witnesses in the Republic of Armenia.  The report proclaims all imprisoned members – who avoid military service – of the controversial religious group “prisoners of conscience.”

According to the report, “Jehovah’s Witnesses have been active in Armenia since 1975. ” 

Although the organization is unjustly seen as a an enemy in Armenia, my own concern about the group extends to the treatment of their own children – especially their health and in particular the refusal of blood transfusion.

I have also heard allegations of a group suicide by teenage orphans in Armenia after becoming members of the controversial group.

On one hand, I have  to agree with the Amnesty International report that there is discrimination in Armenia against the organization. Within the past year, for instance, Armenian newspapers have reported few, if any, cases of persecution toward members of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And the biased tone used in describing the religious organization by much of the Armenian media suggests that persecutions would hardly be noticed and/or reported in the first place. In particular, the religious organization is continuously referred to as a “sect” with a blatant negative connotation in the Armenian language and culture. Popular daily newspapers in the Republic of Armenia often refer to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a “sect” and “totalitarian” resonating with many derogatory terms popularly used in Armenia to refer to religious minorities.  A recent Azg article (in Armenian), for one example, says that “sects shake the foundation of the state” and quotes a journalist accusing a freedom of expression activist for not having a “list” of individuals who were allegedly psychologically devastated after joining Jehovah’s Witnesses.

On the other hand, I also have serious concerns about the organization’s treatment of its own members and the tactic of recruiting minors and especially from oppressed economic backgrounds. And what is the most ironic is the organization’s call for “freedom of expression” while at the same time they consider their own critical members as agents of the evil and call those who leave the group, “liars.”