- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
July 16, 2004

Two Months, No Answers: Haglund family says “someone has gotten away with murder”

The family of an American murdered in Armenia two months ago says it remains “determined to find answers and have justice served”.

Investigators in Armenia, however, are giving no information on whether such answers exist or whether justice is near.

Joshua Haglund, a citizen of the United States from Wisconsin, was stabbed to death outside his Yerevan apartment in the evening of May 17. He is believed to be the first American murdered in Armenia.

Haglund, 33, was in Armenia as part of a U.S. State Department language fellow program. He was teaching English at Brusov Linguistic University and was killed just days before he was scheduled to end his service in Armenia.

Reached at her home in Wisconsin, Haglund’s mother Maxine Haglund-Blommer told ArmeniaNow that her son held high hopes for his work in Armenia and talked about “the excitement and possibilities Armenia had in its future and he wanted to be a part of it all.”

It happens, too, that Joshua Haglund was gay. And, privately, expatriate and Armenian acquaintances are saying he was killed by those who opposed his lifestyle.

ArmeniaNow asked investigators whether Haglund’s death was being considered a hate crime. Police would give no details of the investigation nor say whether a suspect has been identified nor how many people have been questioned.

Members of Armenia’s gay community have privately complained that police used Haglund’s murder investigation as an excuse to intimidate those known or thought to be gay.

At least one man was held in confinement for several days. Another says he was called to a police station and when he asked what crime he was being charged with, an investigator said: “Don’t you think being a faggot is a crime?” He also alleges that police told him they did not care whether the law protected homosexuality, and that, in their precinct, they were the law.

“Josh was openly gay in America and his family supported him,” Haglund-Blommer said.

She says she doesn’t understand the relevancy of her son’s sexuality to his death because: “It isn’t important what my son’s sexual orientation was but rather that he was a person that wanted to make a difference in the world through teaching and travels.”

But the mother also says his family “doesn’t know what it is like to be gay in Armenia.”

“Joshua would never intentionally put himself in danger,” Maxine Haglund-Blommer said. “If this was a hate crime, we don’t know. But we sure would like to find out.”

His mother says that many of her son’s friends and colleagues in Armenia have contacted her over the past two months.

“They don’t understand how or why this could happen,” Haglund-Blommer said. “Several have said they don’t have great hope or confidence in the legal process in Armenia.”

Haglund-Blommer says Haglund’s brothers and sister are “very discouraged and disappointed” with the investigation and that the family is now looking into hiring a victim representative in Armenia.

“We want some answers to this senseless death,” she said. “Our son and brother is gone and someone has gotten away with this murder.”

Maxine Haglund-Blommer has written an “open letter” to her son’s killers. To read her thoughts click “Outside Eye”.

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