The villagers tried to move a cross stone to the territory of the X-century temple in Gumburdo where their ancestors' bones were discovered as a result of excavations in the church yard. However, the police inspecting the territory prohibited doing it, after which special forces have arrived at the scene.
In Armenia and Georgia, assessments were made that this incident was a provocation against the friendship between the Armenian and Georgian peoples. Some mass media described the incident in Gumburdo as an Armenian-Georgian clashes during which Georgian policemen had exercised violence against the Armenian villagers. Aghunik Ayvazyan, a journalist for jnews.ge, who covered events at the scene on September 30, said that such assessments are groundless misinformation.
“The moment when a brawl happened, both sides were Armenians, the police were Armenian. No Georgian citizen beat any Armenian, no brutal beatings took place, you can watch videos published. Initially, the Armenian police officers and our Akhalkalaki police officers stood at the front line. And the clash was a moment,” Aghunik Ayvazyan, Journalist at Jnews.ge website, said during the discussion at Media Center on October 4.
The journalist also notes that some Armenian media outlets allegedly considered the clashes to be Armenian-Georgian and some Georgian media outlets began discussing the issue of church belonging.
Johny Melikyan, Head of the Center for Political and Legal Studies,Expert on Georgian studies, introduced the background of the incident and referred to the history of the church in Gumburdo.
“The church ages the 10th century, the Armenians began to use it since the 15th century. However, it is considered chalcedonic, and the Georgian Diocese does not hide that the Armenian Apostolic Church has no pretension for the church. However, as far as I know, the process has begun since last year, in which the Georgian Diocese was actively participating, and even an agreement was reached to return to this issue in late October with Georgian clergymen to discuss.”
Armen Avetisyan, Executive Director of the Charitable Foundation “Javakhk”, considers that the issues of installing the cross-stone and the church belonging should be differentiated.
“The problem is that the issue is not related to the church's belonging but the problem of local people is as follows: They say that our ancestral relics, which were excavated during excavations, were reburied again and we want to put a cross-stone on them,” Armen Avetisyan said. “By placing a cross-stone in the yard of the church, Gumburdo people do not want to prove that it is an Armenian church.”
Arsen Kharatyan, Editor-in-chief of the Georgian Media Channel “Alik”, thinks that the issue of placing a cross stone in the church yard is extraordinary as the situation requires. He considers that the issue of khachkar placement will be effective to be considered beyond the legal dimension, on a more moral level, in this case the probability of reaching a compromise is greater.
“It has symbolism. The problem of placing the cross stone in this situation also needs to be solved in the moral dimension. On the one hand, the issue should be solved on the legal dimension, and on the other hand, it is necessary to find an unusual solution.”
Derenik Malkhasyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”
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