Viewers of the “Haylur” news programs observed this week something rarely presented to the Armenian public: a retraction of false statements made about Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In November 2010, 23-year-old Arman Torosyan, a resident of Sevan, Armenia, allegedly murdered his parents, 64-year-old Khachik Torosyan and 57-year-old Marietta Torosyan, in their apartment.
When Armenian Public Television reported on the double murder on November 8, 2010, they linked the victim's son to Jehovah's Witnesses, reported ArmeniaNow.
Many media outlets across the country began reporting the misinformation which soon fueled a public debate and discontent aimed at the religious group.
In an interview with ArmeniaNow, Tigran Harutyunyan, a press secretary of Jehovah’s Witnesses said, “Besides releasing misinformation, the Public Television in its reports voiced humiliating and insulting expressions against our organization’s members. One of the TV programs encouraged its audience to commit violence against Jehovah’s Witnesses when meeting them, as a result of which our members suffered attacks, brawls and heard bad language in different towns and villages of Armenia."
The defendant was never one of Jehovah's Witnesses nor were his parents. Also, they were never associated with Jehovah's Witnesses.
The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses asked the network to cease reporting the false information to no avail and on November 12 the Armenian ombudsman asked the media to stop identifying the defendant as a member of the organization. This request was also ignored.
Jehovah's Witnesses were left with no other choice but to take legal action. On May 15, 2012 they signed a settlement agreement with Armenian Public Television.
A press release from the World Headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses in New York City says, "According to the terms of the signed settlement agreement, the Armenian Public Television station, H1, broadcasted the retraction once during the first 20 minutes of each of their primetime news programs at 5:00 p.m. and at 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. The retraction is also being posted on the media outlet’s official website ([url=http://www.1tv.am]www.1tv.am), listing it among the top five news stories during the period of June 5, 2012, through June 14, 2012."
David Semonian, a spokesman at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York said, "No one wants false statements broadcast about them, and we are no exception. It is important that the Armenian public hear the truth about Jehovah’s Witnesses, and we are pleased that Armenian Public Television has taken steps to set the matter straight for the viewing public in Armenia.”