ANCA-Sponsored Conference on Christians Prioritizes Justice for the Armenian Genocide

A portion of the IDC and ANCA advocates following over 400 Congressional meetings on spotlighting the plight of Christians in the Middle East and demanding justice for the Armenian Genocide.
A portion of the IDC and ANCA advocates following over 400 Congressional meetings on spotlighting the plight of Christians in the Middle East and demanding justice for the Armenian Genocide.

A portion of the IDC and ANCA advocates following over 400 Congressional meetings on spotlighting the plight of Christians in the Middle East and demanding justice for the Armenian Genocide.

Three-Day IDC Summit Concludes with 400+ Meetings Across Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON  Hundreds of Christian leaders, international religious freedom advocates, and human rights defenders held over 400 Congressional meetings calling on legislators to reject Turkey’s Armenian Genocide gag-rule and draw upon the lessons of this crime in preventing renewed atrocities against Christians and other at-risk religious minorities across the Middle East.

The advocates were gathered for In Defense of Christians (IDC) 2017 Summit, “American Leadership and Securing the Future of Christians in the Middle East,” cosponsored by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), The Philos Project, and The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD).

The meetings, which included Christian clergy of many denominations and supporters of diverse nationalities and creeds, focused on the summit’s five-pronged advocacy agenda, including support of H.Res.220, a bipartisan measure seeks to apply the lessons of the Armenian Genocide in preventing new atrocities across the Middle East, as well as efforts to advance: security and stability in Lebanon; emergency relief for victims of genocide in Iraq and Syria; allies and accountability in the Middle East; and, legal punishment for ISIS, al-Qaeda and other perpetrators of genocide.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) with ANCA and IDC advocates during IDC Summit 2017

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) with ANCA and IDC advocates during IDC Summit 2017

Prior to the Congressional visitations, a dozen Members of Congress joined with advocates to share their personal commitment to support the safety and security of the Middle East’s historic Christian communities and cited the importance of grassroots mobilization to advance those concerns.  Among U.S. Representatives offering remarks were:  Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Ron Estes (R-KS), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Andy Harris (R-MD), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Ruben Kihuen (D-NV), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Keith Rothfus (R-PA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Randy Weber (R-TX).

An IDC Summit supporter since its inception in 2014 and cosponsor since 2016, the ANCA lent its voice to a series of policy-driven panel discussions in the first two days of the conference.  In a panel titled “Who Are America’s Allies and Enemies in the Middle East,” ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian offered a hard look at Turkey, calling for accountability for its ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide, the escalating aggression at home and abroad, reaching the U.S. in May with the brutal beating of peaceful protesters in Washington DC by President Erdogan’s security detail and supporters.

Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) speaking with ANCA and IDC advocates during IDC Summit 2017

Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) speaking with ANCA and IDC advocates during IDC Summit 2017

 

A highlight of the IDC 2017 Summit was the announcement that the U.S. will open a new channel of direct U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance, administered by faith-based groups and other non-government organizations, to help persecuted Christians and other at-risk Middle East populations.  The policy shift, long sought by the ANCA, IDC and a broad range of coalition partners and Congressional allies was announced Wednesday evening by Vice-President Mike Pence at the IDC 2017 National Advocacy Summit Fourth Annual Solidarity Dinner.

“We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups,” announced Vice-President Pence. “The United States will work hand-in-hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private organizations to help those who are persecuted for their faith. […] We stand with those who suffer for their faith because that’s what Americans have always done, because the common bond of our humanity demands a strong response.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-AZ) with ANCA and IDC advocates during IDC Summit 2017

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-AZ) with ANCA and IDC advocates during IDC Summit 2017

His Beatitude Moran Mor Bechara Boutros al-Rai, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East and His Beatitude John Yazigi, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East had traveled from the Middle East to offer first-hand accounts of the plight of Christians in the region.  Armenian faith leaders at the conference included His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Eastern USA, Rev. Berdj Jambazian, Minister of Union of the Armenian Evangelical Church of North America and Mr. Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director and CEO of the Armenian Missionary Association of America.

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One Comment;

  1. Vicken Khachadourian said:

    I know how divisive this last election was, but as a liberal American, I chose Bernie Sanders over Hillary, and in 2015 I wrote to Vice President Joe Biden with a $50 check made out to “Joe Biden for President”, which his office returned back. In the general election, I was for President Donald Trump. I saw President Trump as a better one who’d clean up the mess Hillary created in the Middle East, and I’m hoping that the Armenian leaders, who were trashing President Trump in Asbarez, are doing some soul searching. As a devout Christian, I have I told my Armenian friends that we should have promoted Badveli Krikor Aghabaloghlu as the Armenian Desmond Tutu. I have heard many Armenians tell me that defending Christianity all these centuries has not been good for Armenians. I guess they want honor killings and burkas for their wives and daughters, and a religion where they get to kill anybody who decides to convert away from.

    I am not against Islam, The extremist Muslim Turks killed us, but the moderate and fair Muslim Syrians saved us. But when I’m forced to convert or die, Aram Haigaz and Vartan Mamigonian both set good examples for me.

    I fully applaud this development. My Armenian teacher, Hagop Tootikian reminded us all the time that we Armenians have to learn to contribute to worthy causes in all the adopted countries that our history disperses us to, and then we can make the world a better place by bringing the values that out ethnic history gave us.

    I know writing columns on a regular basis is a challenge. You sometimes run out of ideas, so the next time Garen Yeghparian is coming up empty to write about something, I invite him to write a soul searching one for attacking President Trump and defending Hillary. I take it at face value that he’s a well meaning citizen, but for the Christians in the Middle East, there is no doubt that President Trump was the better candidate. I’m glad she’s not the president and President Trump is, and I’m still a bleeding heart liberal. I do not agree with all of President Trump’s policies, but he was and has been way better than Hillary. Watching VP Mike Pence tell the Armenian Catholicos that the persecution of Christians in the Middle East is going to end was a very relieving experience for me.

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