Armenian News Network / Groong


Desecration of Armenian Cemetery in Avlabar District, Tbilisi, Georgia Continues

Armenian News Network / Groong
September 14, 2007

By Raffy Dikranian

MONTREAL, CANADA


I recently visited Tbilisi, Georgia on 6 and 7 September 2007 and was horrified by what I discovered behind the recently built Georgian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral and in front of the Armenian Pantheon in the Avlabar district of Tbilisi. A large ditch has been dug out where the Armenian "Pantheon Medzats" cemetery used to be. The construction of a Centre for Orthodox Studies (Djemaran) will soon begin on top of the Armenian cemetery and the bones of deceased Armenians have not been properly relocated as you can see in the attached photos.

My previous visit to Tbilisi was in September 2005. During that visit, I was informed by the local Armenian population of Tbilisi, in the predominantly Armenian Avlabar district, that the Georgian Government had constructed the largest cathedral of the Caucasus (Holy Trinity) on the graves of Armenian writers. Only the gravestones had been moved to another site behind the cemetery, what is currently the Armenian Pantheon, while the bones had not been relocated. It was unbelievable then that such an insensible act could be possible, yet during this trip, I received confirmation that the Armenians of Tbilisi had not exaggerated the truth in any way.

Upon my arrival in Tbilisi on 6 September 2007, I was informed of Georgian President Saakashvili's plans to completely tear down all the buildings in the Avlabar District and to build a new, luxurious neighbourhood in that area, around the Holy Trinity Cathedral, for the President's elite. It must be mentioned that the buildings occupied by the Armenians had never been renovated by the Government over the years and were unsafe. The Government has recently informed the Armenian residents of Avlabar that it will pay them 1,500 Lari (approx. $906 USD) per square metre and move them to a housing project to be constructed outside the centre's boundaries. The Armenians of Avlabar whose families have lived there for centuries do not want to leave but have no choice.

I urge upon you to write to President Saakashvili and ask him to show some respect to the Armenians of Tbilisi by properly burying the bones of the deceased and allowing them to continue to reside in Avlabar as they have done so for centuries. Here is the email address of Mr. Saakashvili's office: http://www.president.gov.ge/letter.php?l=E. And here is the UNESCO World Heritage site and info: http://whc.unesco.org/?cid=151 where you can inform UNESCO of the destruction of this important Armenian heritage site.

Here is the author's photo gallery from the visit at Pantheon Medzats:

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

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All Photos Raffy Dikranian
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Raffy Dikranian is a foreign language specialist and works with major
institutions like the United Nations' specialized International Civil
Aviation agency and the Quebec ministry of Health and Social Services
to translate and interpret across a large number of languages.
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