Amid ongoing tension with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, controversy is growing in Armenia about a proposal that would liberalize the terms of alternative service for religiously motivated conscientious objectors to the draft.
Under Armenian law, all men between the ages of 18 and 27 are required to serve two years in the armed forces. Although Armenia has had a law on alternative service since 2004, its provisions have “not been applied in practice,” asserted human rights activist Avetik Ishkhanian. Men who refuse for religious reasons to perform alternative service under the supervision of military personnel often have received prison terms.
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Gayane Abrahamyan is a reporter for ArmeniaNow.com in Yerevan.