PM promises government’s assistance to fight back religious sects


Oct 14 2004

YEREVAN, OCTOBER 14, ARMENPRESS: Asked during a Wednesday Q&A
parliament session whether the authorities should have officially
registered Jehovah’s Witnesses religious sect at this time Armenian
prime minister Andranik Margarian said the government will work to
create such conditions that “if they violate the law we can ban their
activities by legal means.”

He said the issue on fighting against extremist religious sects
has been in the focus of the authorities for years and “now the
government’s Department on National Minorities and Religion is working
with the Church, non-governmental organizations and experts to draw
up amendments to Armenia’s law on religious groups to make their
activities more transparent.”

The prime minister, however, admitted that the government has few
levers to influence religious organizations’ activities “unless they
breach our laws.” He also added that Armenian Apostolic Church should
work hard to win the trust of Armenians and pledged the government’s
support. “The government and the Church will soon sign a document
that will specify their actions in fighting against sects,” he said.

Jehovah’s Witnesses was registered by the Justice Ministry this week
after years of pressure exerted on Yerevan by the Council of Europe
and other international human rights watchdogs.

According to Margarian, more than 30 other sects which were registered
earlier are no less dangerous.