Aram I Addresses Protest Letter to UNESCO

In response to Turkey’s request to UNESCO to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Ottoman Empire as part of the international organization’s 1999 jubilee program–Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia has addressed a letter to UNESCO president Federico Mayor.

Aram I in his letter to the official voiced his grave concerns on the organization’s plans to consider Turkey’s request during its upcoming plenary session.

"As Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia–I cannot remain silent and not voice my opposition–when this dim chapter in history is being equated with the same principles which are the basis for your 132nd session–and the organization as a whole."

The Cilician Catholicosate had for centuries been in the capital of Cilicia–Sis. "In 1921 our Catholicosate was turned into a wandering entity when our church possessions were plundered and uprooted. The long history of plunder–death and massacres–which according to UNESCO’s interpretation were taking place under the ‘grand Ottoman political leadership’ culminated in the attempted annihilation of the Armenian people."

It is widely recognized that the core of the Ottoman Empire was comprised of religious and social prejudice–said Aram I in his letter. The Catholicos also emphasized that international scholars–states people and personalities have over the decades voiced their negative stance on the history of the Ottoman Empire–during which a vast number of highly esteemed intellectuals were killed and persecuted. The same is true with the survivors of those who where subject to Ottoman oppression and violence–wrote Aram I.

"To attach itself to the history of the Ottoman Empire–UNESCO will have encouraged the revisitation and revival of that same history which Turkey has long attempted to emulate…Give these facts–we ask you to reconsider you decisions and your approach to the issue of the 700th anniversary of the Ottoman Empire."

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