24 more young people refused the alternative military service, all of them simultaneously, stated Alexander Amaryan, the head of the center for aid and rehabilitation to the victims of destructive cults.
As the expert noted at a news conference in Yerevan, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not recognize the statehood, leading the state to complete downfall.
Psychologist Karine Nalchajyan, in turn, characterized the sectarians’ actions as a stab in the back of the state. “They keep speaking about humanism, while refusing a work that could actually help people,” she stressed.
The Law on Alternative Service effective since 2004 provides conditions for alternative service for members of religious organizations. Article 2 of the law stipulates: “Alternative service is a special state service delivered by the citizen of the Republic of Armenia not related to carrying, keeping, maintaining and using weapon.”
The law envisages 36 months’ alternative unarmed military service or 42 months’ alternative civilian community service.
After the law came into force, 22 Jehovah's Witnesses chose the latter option and were assigned to special civilian hospitals, including Armenia's largest psychiatric clinic. But they soon discovered that these facilities are essentially under military control, regularly checked on by military police officers, confined to the medical institutions for 24 hours a day and even fed by the army. 15 sectarians were sentenced for 2-3 years in prison on charges of desertion, and were set free after serving 7 months’ prison term.