Bills on Christian Rights in Turkey, US Genocide Recognition to be Introduced

Rep. Adam Schiff

WASHINGTON–A bipartisan group of U.S. legislators are set to introduce two resolutions in support of a truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide, including a new measure specifically pressing Turkey to fully respect the rights of Christians to practice their faith in freedom, including through the rightful return of confiscated churches to Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Pontians, Arameans (Syriacs) and other Christians communities, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

The Return of Churches resolution, spearheaded by senior House Foreign Affairs Committee member Ed Royce (R-CA) and the panel’s Ranking Democrat Howard Berman (D-CA), calls upon the government of Turkey to honor its international obligations end all forms of religious persecution and to protect the rights and religious freedoms of Christians. The measure specifically calls upon Turkey to return confiscated Christian church properties.
 
The Armenian Genocide Resolution, introduced by Congressmen Robert Dold (R-IL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), calls upon the President to recognize the Armenian Genocide and encourages the U.S.

Rep. Robert Dold

government to apply the lessons of this tragedy to prevent future crimes against humanity. This measure, identical to H.Res.252 during the previous session of Congress, has been adopted by the Foreign Affairs Committee four times over the past eleven years, but has yet to reach the floor for an up-or-down vote of the full U.S. House of Representatives.

“We want to thank Congressmen Royce, Berman, Dold, and Schiff for their leadership in working toward a truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian.

Commenting specifically on the measure safeguarding Christian heritage introduced by Reps. Royce and Berman, Hachikian noted: “The Christian rights legislation reflects and reaffirms the long and proud history of principled leadership by the U.S. Congress in protecting religious freedom abroad – for Christians and for peoples of all faiths. In calling upon Turkey to end restrictions on freedom of worship and restore the rights of Christians to their stolen places of worship, the Congress will, with the full moral authority of the American people, add its voice to the international effort to morally defend and materially protect the rights and religious freedoms of Christians inside Turkey’s present-day borders.”

This religious freedom measure represents an effort to highlight, confront, and eventually reverse decades of official Turkish policy of destroying Christian church properties, desecrating holy sites, discriminating against Christian communities, and denying of the right of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Pontians, Arameans (Syriacs), and others to practice their faith in freedom. The measure is consistent with many other resolutions adopted by the U.S. House over the past several decades defending religious freedom and protecting sacred sites and places of worship, as well as with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and America’s longstanding leadership in supporting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
 

Rep. Ed Royce

Reps. Royce and Berman Speak out on Turkey’s Confiscation of Churches; Crackdown on Religious Freedom:
Return of Churches resolution lead sponsors Reps. Ed Royce and Howard Berman speak out on the importance of immediate action to address Turkey’s repression of its religious minorities and the confiscation of churches.

“Conditions in Turkey have deteriorated with violent hate crimes increasingly linked to religion,” explained Rep. Royce. “My resolution urges Turkey to protect its vulnerable religious minorities. They should be able to freely practice, worship and study their faith without fear of discrimination or violence. We expect Turkey to make good on its obligation to provide this protection.”

Rep. Berman concurred, noting, “By expropriating church properties, harassing worshippers, and refusing to grant full legal status to some Christian groups, Turkey has failed to fulfill its obligation as a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which requires ‘freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.’ Turkey must end its deeply disturbing practice of religious discrimination, cease all restrictions on gatherings for religious prayer and education, and return stolen church property.”
 

Rep. Howard Berman

Reps. Dold and Schiff Speak Out on the Imperative of U.S Affirmation of the Armenian Genocide:
“The United States has a duty to remember those who have no voice,” explained Rep. Dold upon introduction of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. “Ninety-six years ago 1.5 million people were killed simply because they were Armenian. I’ve personally heard stories from Armenian-Americans in my district who lost loved ones during the Armenian genocide. This appalling tragedy should not be ignored; rather, as a nation that fights for justice it is only fitting that the United States honestly recognize the Armenian Genocide and the victims so that together we can help prevent future genocides.”
 
“The facts of history are clear, well documented and non-negotiable – 1.5 million Armenians were deliberately murdered in the first genocide of the 20th century,” explained Rep. Schiff. “If we are to prevent future atrocities, we must condemn genocide whenever and wherever it occurs. It has never served our national interest to be complicit in another nation’s campaign of genocide denial, and it never will. While there are still some survivors left, we have a compelling, urgent and moral obligation to speak plainly about the past.”
 
The territory of present-day Turkey, home to many of the most important centers of early Christianity – most notably Nicaea, Ephesus, Chalcedon, and Constantinople – contains, to this day, a rich legacy of Christian heritage, including thousands of religious sites and properties.

Source on Capitol Hill report that both measures are supported by a broad bi-partisan group of original cosponsors.

To learn more about the Return of Christian Churches Resolution and to ask your U.S. Representatives to cosponsor this measure, visit here.

To learn more about the Armenian Genocide Resolution and to ask your U.S. Representatives to cosponsor this genocide prevention measure, visit here.

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9 Comments

  1. manoug said:

    first of all, for return of confiscated property, there are international mechanisms. all armenians should ask why our leaders decieving us and never used these international mechanisms? second, the issue is not christian of turkey, but any ethnic minority due to turkish nationalist influence. rights of christian in turkey is fine, my family went to turkey before we came to u.s.a. and there are many armenians, syriacs, chaldeans, living there freedom of religion, but tension with ethnicity

  2. HARUT said:

    Thats right thats the truth and truth will set everyones concious free
    I like to bring one example the Muslims can build their mosks in any given country and practice their religion
    Same goes for the Christians, we the people dont use the mosks as a museum or use the mosks as churches, in our case whether it would be my people the Armenians or Greeks or the Syriacs those churches been there for centurys and it is on our homeland so Turkey should respect theinternational communitys position and return them to its rightfull owners which are my people The Armenians.

  3. HARUT said:

    If we the people or the west dont use the mosks as a church
    Turkey is no exception from it, they know better
    Erdogan mentioned that he is the new gamechanger in Middle East he just stepped on his own tail.
    Arabs are happy with Turkey being out of Middleeast and Arabs are well off with the west being in Middle East, one can only imagine if ottoman Turks were in charge ofMiddle East affairs it would of been another Darfur or another, Turkey ruled the middle east for few centurys and no Arab is Happy with turkey sweet talk, the Arabs are not happy with turks twisting their tungs or playing gymnastics with teir tungs.

  4. HARUT said:

    We the West brought more democracy to Middle East than Turkey can imagine, firstof all Turkey should practice democracy in Turkey than try to promote democracy in Middle East, it is us the West that brought more freedom of speech or freedom of press to the Middle East than Turkey is trying to accomplish, We the West fought in the Middle East and lost more troops than Turkey did, and ow Trkey wants to just walk in and say Hello my friends, that does not work like that, and Turkey well the list goes on, I like for someone to tell me what did the Turks ever did for the human race, what did the ever do for humanity as a memberof planet earth= nothing they have donenothing, they have 7 neighbours and all 7 of them are enemys of Turkey, and We as Armenians contributed more to humanity than Turkey or azerbejan combined together, all Turkey didwith azerbejan was and still is committing crimes against humanity.

  5. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    Allah …I Wonder, Where is God…!



    To build a praying home immense- costly 

    It is very easy to vanish full community
    
Who dedicated their Heart…Hands…
    Their Arts their hard money

    To build a pray

ing home…

    For some Seljuk pagans
    It is so easy to kill others 

    And take their praying place
    
With out paying a pence…
    


    During almost a hundred year …

    If we rented those churches
    To another race

    Armenians could have earned some cents 

    And would been able to feed
    The orphans of the genocide…

    

I am searching for the actual Mighty
    
But he is away…somewhere 

    Doesn’t have a scimitar 

    To punish the criminals



    Those who says Allah 
    
Ask power from god to slay 

    Confiscate from others 

    For what they worked hard…

    

Could any one believe 
    
Such inhumanity exists…
    Could any one give me one name
    So I will say…There is…!

    

Allah… Where is God…?

  6. manooshag said:

    Thanks, for recognizing that the Armenians were ‘eliminated’ for being Armenian. Thanks for being our Congress men and Congress women. Too, President Woodrow Wilson shall have been so proud of your efforts… and would have joined you.

  7. hatsakorzian nerses said:

    i’d like to present my gratitude to Rep.Berman, Rep Royce, Rep Dold, and Rep Shiff.

  8. Gabriel Mor said:

    Hats off to all these Representatives for doing what they are doing even though it’ll no doubt be in vain.

    As long as Turkey is a member of NATO, no U.S. govt. will ever officially recognize the Armenian genocide and put the pressure on the Turks to finally take responsibility.

    Nor will conditions for non-Muslims get any better in Turkey as long as that avowed Islamist Erdogan is in charge and undermining freedom, democracy and Kemalism as he has been doing ever since he came to power.

  9. manooshag said:

    If title of NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – why is a Turkey a member and joined with the nations geographically located in the Atlantic Ocean… A Turkey, misplaced and misdirected in all ways and all manners… certainly not in keeping with most of the other members of a NATO… mentally or geographically… Seems someone from the USA goofed in bringing a Turkey where it does not belong.

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