Jehovah's Witnesses denied registration in Nagorno-Karabakh
|Publisher||Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty|
|Publication Date||3 August 2009|
|Cite as||Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Jehovah's Witnesses denied registration in Nagorno-Karabakh, 3 August 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a82b7262d.html [accessed 22 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
August 03, 2009
Authorities in the ethnic Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh region are refusing to allow Jehovah's Witnesses and another nontraditional religious group from legally operating in the self-proclaimed republic, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
A new law adopted by the Karabakh parliament obligated all religious denominations to reregister with a government department on religious affairs within a six-month period.
Department head Ashot Sargsian told RFE/RL on July 31 that Jehovah's Witnesses and another religious group, Rebirth of Fire, were effectively banned on the basis of a "negative expert conclusion" that cites proselytism and "methods of psychological influence" by those groups as being in violation of the law in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Artur Ispirian, a Yerevan-based lawyer for the Jehovah's Witnesses, dismissed the explanation, saying the Karabakh law does not define proselytism.
Levon Sardarian, a Fire of Rebirth leader, denounced the government claims as "unfounded" and "ludicrous."
Both Ispirian and Sardarian said they will challenge the decision in court. Sardarian told RFE/RL that "we will certainly continue to operate ... we are ready for any persecution."
All other religious organizations active in the region have been officially registered. Nagorno-Karabakh was captured from Azerbaijan by Armenian forces in a war that ended in 1994.