ANTELIAS, Lebanon—Armenian National Committee of America Chairman Ken Hachikian offered a broad vision of how Return of Churches movement reflects and also materially reinforces the broader international movement to hold the Republic of Turkey responsible for a truthful, just, and comprehensive resolution of the Armenian Genocide.
Hackikian offered his remarks, at the recently concluded three-day international conference, “The Armenian Genocide: From Recognition to Reparation,” hosted by His Holiness, Vehapar Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, and organized by the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia. The conference featured presentations by dozens of leading academics and thought-leaders from across the globe, all addressing the topic of securing the reparations owed by Turkey to the Armenian nation for the Armenian Genocide of 1915 to 1923. Hachikian’s speech offered first-hand insights into the ANCA’s pivotal role in the passage of the Return of Churches resolution, H.Res.306, and outlined, in broader terms, how this effort fits into the cause of justice for the Armenian Genocide and the future viability of the Armenian nation.
Hachikian stressed, in a speech that addressed the moral and material aspects of the justice owed the Armenian nation, that, “As we approach the end of a century in which all the moral and material costs of the Armenian Genocide have fallen upon the victims of this crime, we seek, for ourselves and all humanity, a new era, a better century – guided by the ethic that the burdens of this genocide – and all genocides – will, as they rightly must, be borne by its perpetrator.”
He added that, “The return of churches, Turkey’s surrender – voluntary or otherwise – of the thousands of church properties it stole from Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Syriacs, and other Christians prior to, during, and after the Armenian Genocide era, would represent a meaningful first step by the Turkish government toward accepting its responsibility for a truthful and just resolution of this still unpunished crime against humanity. It would, as well, mark a major blow for the cause of international religious freedom, in a corner of the world sadly known not for its pluralism, but rather for the depths of its intolerance.”
Catholicos Aram I, who, in his opening statement powerfully asserted the Catholicosate of Cilicia’s legal claims to Armenian Church properties, closed the conference by reporting that, based on the emerging conclusions of this Conference, the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, in collaboration with the Armenian Catholic and Evangelic churches and Armenian political parties, community leadership and major players of Armenian Communities:
1. Will explore with organized efforts the concrete possibilities of moving forward taking into consideration the provisions provided by the international law.
2. Will seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice through the UN on the legal consequences of the Armenian Genocide. I believe thaty NGO’s and civil society could play advocacy role by challenging the UN to take concrete action to this effect.
3. Will also explore the possibilities of raising the Armenian case before the European Court of Human Rights, based on human rights violation related to genocide and confiscation of properties.
“This is not an easy process, taking into consideration the present political landscape and geopolitical interests,” His Holiness concluded, ” however, we are determined to embark on this critical process with renewed faith and firm determination. The role of the Republic of Armenia is pivotal in this respect. We are seeking justice: recognition of the Armenian Genocide and reparation. This is a challenge before us. The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia is ready to respond to this challenge with strong commitment and a profound sense of responsibility.”
Hachikian, explained, during his presentation, that Armenians are “not seeking truth simply for the sake of truth, for all the world, and certainly we as Armenians, know all too well the reality of the Armenian Genocide and the ongoing consequences of this crime. We are in no need of further affirmation. Nor of vengeance or vindication. No. We seek truth in the name of justice. And justice in the interest of survival. That is why we struggle so mightily against Ankara’s denial of truth and obstruction of justice.”
The ANCA Chairman also offered a public lecture on this topic, hosted by the Armenian National Committee of the Middle East, at the Shaghzoyan Center, in the Bourj Hammoud neighborhood of Beirut. The topic of his talk was, “The Question of Return of Church Properties in the U.S. Congress: What is the Role of Armenian Activists? What are the Implications for Turkey? Is This a Precursor to a Meaningful Discussion of Reparations?”
The competel text of Hachikian’s speech is provided below.
I want to start my remarks today by thanking Vehapar Aram I for his vision in hosting this gathering and bringing us all together under the leadership of the Great House of Cilicia and also to express my appreciation to the organizers of this conference for inviting me to participate from across the Atlantic in this important academic undertaking.
I will share with you today the Armenian National Committee of America’s contribution to the great cause of securing for our nation the restitution and reparations owed to our people for Turkey’s crime of genocide.
My perspective here today, born of my experience and shaped on the front lines of our common cause, is a political one. My views, and those of my colleagues, have, nonetheless, been meaningfully informed, greatly enriched and consistently energized by the far-reaching body of academic inquiry on this subject, but our struggle is waged in the civic arena.
Scholars, as they should, shed light; politicians, as we must, deliver heat. We need both now more than ever. To prevail, our struggles must be won both on the intellectual battlefield and on the field of public and political discourse.
My comments today about our community’s effort in the United States to press Turkey to return churches will, I hope, help inform you about the urgency of such efforts and also inspire our friends and allies around the world to join in this noble undertaking. We must continue our efforts to prevail intellectually, but we also must not forget that there is an essential battle to be joined in the halls of our governments.
For what we seek is nothing less than a turning of the tide.
As we approach the end of a century in which all the moral and material costs of the Armenian Genocide have fallen upon the victims of this crime, we seek, for ourselves and all humanity, a new era, a better century – guided by the ethic that the burdens of this genocide – and all genocides – will, as they rightly must, be borne by its perpetrator.
The return of churches, Turkey’s surrender – voluntary or otherwise -of the thousands of church properties it stole from Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Syriacs, and other Christians prior to, during, and after the Armenian Genocide era, would represent a meaningful first step by the Turkish government toward accepting its responsibility for a truthful and just resolution of this still unpunished crime against humanity.
It would, as well, mark a major blow for the cause of international religious freedom, in a corner of the world sadly known not for its pluralism, but rather for the depths of its intolerance.
Our advocacy in Washington, DC on this issue has, over the past year, taken its place alongside our Armenian Genocide recognition efforts, our struggle against Ankara’s denials, and our other work on issues of concern to Armenian Americans. Of course, this initiative, like all of our community’s advocacy investments is, at its heart, aimed at promoting Armenia’s viability.
Our North Star – the light that guides us as we navigate the political waters – is the survival of the Armenian people, the security of the Armenian homeland, and the strengthening of the Armenian nation.
That is why we seek a truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide.
We are not seeking truth simply for the sake of truth, for all the world, and certainly we as Armenians, know all too well the reality of the Armenian Genocide and the ongoing consequences of this crime.
We are in no need of further affirmation.
Nor of vengeance or vindication.
No. We seek truth in the name of justice.
And justice in the interest of survival.
That is why we struggle so mightily against Ankara’s denial of truth and obstruction of justice.
Reasons of morality, of course, compel us to demand respect for human life and to stand up – in the name of our ancient faith and in the spirit of the UN Convention on the Prevention and PUNISHMENT of Genocide – against mass murder.
The cause of genocide prevention, a core moral imperative of our age, requires that we – as witnesses to the depths of man’s inhumanity to man – bring the full measure of our devotion to ending forever the cycle of genocide.
Turkey’s denial of truth and obstruction of justice for the Armenian Genocide sets a dangerous precedent – an unacceptable precedent – emboldening potential perpetrators that their crimes can be committed with impunity. Nowhere is this more urgent for us than in deterring Turkey from committing renewed aggression against the Armenian people, for Armenia cannot be safe as long as it is has on its border an over-armed and unrepentant perpetrator of genocide.
We seek as well, for the citizens of Turkey, a transformation of Turkish society. A Turkey that fully accepts responsibility for the Armenian Genocide would very likely be one that is on the road to rehabilitation into a more just and tolerant society.
We have seen few signs of progress on this front. In fact, in recent years, all we’ve heard are alarm bells. In today’s Turkey, Hrant Dink’s killer is treated like a hero and most of those guilty of his assassination are let free.
Armenians are regularly threatened with renewed deportations while the remaining Christian heritage of Anatolia is being systematically erased. The country’s most popular films and books are about scapegoating and striking down treasonous minorities.
Turkey today is not simply an unrepentant post-genocidal state, but a pre-genocidal society, lashing out at imagined enemies and seeking out its next targets.
What is needed is not simply a change in Turkey’s policies, but rather a profound, long-term movement, driven by both international and domestic pressure, to rehabilitate Turkey into a modern, tolerant, and pluralist society that – as proof of its reform – willingly forfeits the fruits of its genocidal crimes.
For justice is vital for Armenia’s survival.
Consider the vast and devastating demographic, material, geographic, and cultural and legacy of the Armenian Genocide. The core elements of Armenian viability were nearly destroyed forever.
This concern is – very clearly – not just about our past. For upon a just resolution of this crime rests the very ability of Armenians to restore the elements of viability that have long sustained our nation and to finally close the wounds of genocide that so crippled – and, because they are so deep, may yet kill – our poor and orphaned nation.
These are the stakes.
At risk is our very survival.
Not our dignity, or simply our pride, but our very place at the table of nations.
That is why we see seek the truth. That is why we demand justice.
And part of justice, perhaps among the first measures that can realistically be secured, is the return of our sacred sites.
A first front – but not a final one – in a long struggle for our survival.
Our Church – as always – at the fore, fighting for justice, and truth, and an enduring peace among men.
Our efforts on this front, as have been widely reported, began with the introduction, on June 15th of last year, of H.Res.306 – the “Return of Churches” resolution – by two of the most senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce and Howard Berman. This religious freedom measure was launched in parallel with the Armenian Genocide Resolution, the genocide-prevention measure that we have traditionally advanced through Congress.
Congressman Royce launched H.Res.306 by stating: “Conditions in Turkey have deteriorated with violent hate crimes increasingly linked to religion. My resolution urges Turkey to protect its vulnerable religious minorities.”
His Democratic colleague, the Ranking Member of the panel, Howard Berman, sharing his concerns, stated: “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.'”
We were gratified by the broad, bipartisan support this resolution garnered. It was launched with numerous original co-sponsors, including the co-chairs of the Human Rights, Hellenic, and Armenian Caucuses.
The resolution’s text showed that it called upon the government of Turkey to honor its international obligations to return confiscated Christian church properties and to fully respect the rights of all Christians, among them the Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Pontians, and Arameans (Syriacs), who have lived for thousands of years on what is present-day Turkey.
The resolution called on the U.S. Secretary of State, in all official bilateral contacts, to press the Turkish government to:
1. End all forms of religious discrimination;
2. Allow the rightful church and lay owners of Christian church properties, without hindrance or restriction, to organize and administer prayer services, religious education, clerical training, appointments, and succession, religious gatherings, social services, including ministry to the needs of the poor and infirm, and other religious activities;
3. Return to their rightful owners all Christian churches and other places of worship, monasteries, schools, hospitals, monuments, relics, holy sites, and other religious properties, including movable properties, such as artwork, manuscripts, vestments, vessels, and other artifacts; and
4. Allow the rightful Christian church and lay owners of Christian church properties, without hindrance or restriction, to preserve, reconstruct, and repair, as they see fit, all Christian churches and other places of worship, monasteries, schools, hospitals, monuments, relics, holy sites, and other religious properties within Turkey.
This legislation was crafted to speak powerfully to Americans, who are fundamentally committed to the principle of religious liberty. It has, as you know, long been a priority for American citizens to seek for others around the world the same right to worship in freedom that they enjoy in the United States.
It also spoke meaningfully to Armenians and our allies, who share a devotion to a truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide that morally and materially makes whole the victims of this horrific crime.
Its immediate purpose was directly challenging and then to eventually reverse the vast destruction visited upon religious sites and the theft of church properties during the Armenian Genocide as well as Turkey’s official and ongoing, post-genocide destruction and desecration of holy sites and discrimination against Christian communities.
Through its adoption, its sponsors sought to add the powerful voice of the U.S. Congress – and the full moral authority of the American people – to the international defense of religious freedom for the Christian nations residing within the borders of present-day Turkey.
Part of building support for this measure was educating legislators about the history of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Pontians, and Arameans (Syriacs), who have long lived on what is present-day Turkey. Another key element was reaching out to new allies among traditional American faith-based groups, including evangelicals and others sometimes known as Christian conservatives.
Many Representatives were surprised to learn that these nations, many thousands of years before the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, gave birth to great civilizations, each with their own rich civic, religious, and cultural heritage. These nations were, upon these Biblical lands, among the first Christians, dating back to the time of the travels through Anatolia by the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew.
It held great meaning for Members of the U.S. Congress that the territory of present-day Turkey is today home to many of the most important centers of early Christianity – most notably Nicaea, Ephesus, Chalcedon, and Constantinople, but also that the Turkish government has systematically sought to erase this remarkably rich Christian legacy, including through the destruction of thousands of religious sites.
The destruction of these holy places accelerated during the 1890’s and through the Armenian Genocide era.
The Armenian Genocide and, more broadly, Ottoman Turkey’s genocidal drive to eliminate its entire Christian population, marked a terrible watershed in the histories of the Christians of these lands, as the Turkish leadership shifted from a policy of violence and oppression to one of an outright, systematic, intentional, and state-implemented campaign of ethnic and cultural extermination.
The Republic of Turkey, legal heir to the Ottomans, continued these genocidal policies against the remaining Christian population, through ethnic-cleansing, organized massacres, destruction of churches and religious sites, illegal expropriation of properties, discriminatory policies, restrictions on worship, and other means.
Estimates are that of the well over 2,000 Armenian churches, which existed in the early 1900’s, far fewer than 50 are functioning today.
Perhaps as few as 200 even remain standing today. The rest have been ground into dust. And, only a small fraction of the historic Christian population that once populated Anatolia remains today in modern Turkey to care for their cultural heritage.
Let me pause for a moment to impress upon you just how very sensitive a matter religious rights – and in particular Christian issues – are in modern-day American civic life.
Last year, President Obama’s nominee to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone, was asked at his confirmation hearing, at our direct urging, how many of the pre-1915 Christian churches in Turkey were still operating.
When he answered that a majority still were – a patently inaccurate response that echoed Ankara’s false narrative of tolerance and pluralism – his confirmation process froze in its tracks.
It only went forward after he responded to Senate protests and Armenian American community outrage by publicly withdrawing his response and officially correcting his answer.
We must, as we did in this instance, publically and forcefully confront those who deny the truth about the genocide and its ongoing impact; for our failure to do so would allow these hateful denials to gain credibility.
Returning to the plight of Christians in Turkey, it’s clear that the endangered Christian communities within Turkey’s present-day borders continue, to this day, to endure oppressive restrictions imposed by the government of Turkey on their right to practice their faith in their historic places of worship. These endangered sites – at least those that remain – are, nearly all, still today in Turkish hands as a direct result of genocide. Many other properties – thousands now emptied of even ruins – are also illegally in Turkey’s possession.
The remaining Christians in Turkey are, all too often, prevented from praying in their historic churches, which have been desecrated, sometimes used as storage sheds, and in some cases, even turned into barns.
In very rare instances – such as the Akhtamar Church – Turkey has undertaken repairs for transparently cynical public relations reasons, but refused to return religious properties to their rightful church owners, instead converting them into museums, where prayer, as a rule, is prohibited.
And, by the restoration of these properties to their rightful Armenian owners, we mean the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, the Holy See of Cilicia, the Armenian Catholic Church, the Armenian Evangelical Church, and the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Constantinople.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, established by Congress, recently designated Turkey as one of a handful of countries on its watch list for a third consecutive year. It has concluded that: “Over the previous five decades, the [Turkish] state has, using convoluted regulations and undemocratic laws, confiscated hundreds of religious minority properties, primarily those belonging to the Greek Orthodox community, as well as Armenian Orthodox, Catholics, and Jews. . . The state also has closed seminaries, denying these communities the right to train clergy.”
In 2009, Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Christian Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes and reported that Turkey’s Christians were second class citizens and that he personally felt “crucified by a state that wanted to see his church die out.”
Now, as you might expect, addressing this matter in the United States presents both challenges and opportunities.
In January 2011, President Obama noted – generically – the importance of “bear[ing] witness to those who are persecuted or attacked because of their faith” and President Bush declared in 2009, “No human freedom is more fundamental than the right to worship in accordance with one’s conscience.” But neither did anything to protect or promote the rights of Armenians and other Christians in Turkey.
The U.S. State Department, which often goes to great and frequently unreasonable and even irrational lengths to excuse and apologize for Turkey’s conduct, has actually criticized the persecution of Christians in Turkey, including the improper confiscation of their properties. This position is a testament to the high priority American citizens give to religious liberty.
The United States, as a nation that was, quite literally, founded upon a belief in religious liberty, has a long and proud tradition of actively promoting and defending freedom of faith around the world.
Our own Bill of Rights safeguards religious freedom for Americans and our longstanding leadership in championing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international covenants has helped protect freedom of faith across the globe. America’s enduring commitment to religious freedom was reaffirmed in the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, and has been underscored in countless pieces of specific legislation.
We carefully studied the American precedents. Here are a few examples:
— Just last year, the U.S. House passed H.Res.1631, which called for the protection of minority religious communities and places of worship in the illegally occupied portion of Cyprus.
— H.Res.562, passed by the House during the 105th Congress, cited the confiscation of property by foreign governments as a means of victimizing minority populations, and, specifically, urged foreign governments to return wrongfully expropriated properties to religious communities.
— H.Con.Res.371, passed by the House during the 110th Congress, called on foreign governments to return looted and confiscated properties to their rightful owners or, where restitution was not possible, to pay equitable compensation.
What we found is what we always expected, that the U.S. Congress is a champion for religious liberty, but had yet to direct its attention in this regard to the challenges presented by Turkey’s violence and wholesale intolerance toward its Christian minorities.
The Turkish government stridently opposed this effort to end faith-based discrimination, promote religious tolerance, and secure the rightful return of Christian churches, not just because they reject responsibility for past sins – for they know their guilt better then anyone – but for their naked fear of the implications for future demands for reparations.
The State Department – from Ankara to Washington, DC – pressed hard on Congress to block even the consideration of H.Res.306. Not – it must be stressed – because they believed it did not reflect the American view on the religious rights of Christians in Turkey, but precisely because they knew that it did. This reasoning reflects the fundamental disconnect of a failed foreign policy that prioritizes the sensitivities of the most extremely intolerant elements of Turkish society over the core moral values of the American people.
This bipartisan measure attacked, head-on, the core Ottoman and Kemalist myths about Turkey as a model of tolerance and pluralism.
It revealed Turkey’s token steps and half-measures as political stunts – like its conversion of the church at Akhtamar into a museum – setting a real and reasonable bar for the Turkish government to meet – namely, full freedom of faith and a total return of stolen religious properties.
We saw Turkey go after H.Res.306 in every way possible. Soft attacks, saying it was unnecessary. Harsher attacks that it would be counter-productive given all the great strides that the Turkish government is supposedly making. Diplomatic attacks saying that its adoption would somehow upset the fragile Turkey-Armenia Protocols process. And, finally, angry attacks, seeking to bully and intimidate U.S. legislators.
These assaults did result in the shameful opposition of the Obama Administration to H.Res.306, but they failed to sway even one vote. On July 20th, the Foreign Affairs Committee voted 43 to 1 to pass this measure, with the sole dissenting voice coming from a libertarian who opposes nearly every human rights measure brought before this panel.
Soon after this Committee vote, and in the wake of series of judgments on religious property issues in European courts, Turkey’s Prime Minister issued an announcement – very limited in scope to be sure, but meaningful nonetheless – regarding the rights of churches and others to seek the return of certain confiscated religious properties under a 1936 law, which sadly only applied to 2-3% of the church properties confiscated by Turkey.
The fact that the Prime Minister felt the need to respond to this issue is very telling. Even this token defensive step, meant to minimize Turkey’s obligations, was not an act of charity by Mr. Erdogan, but rather a choice forced upon him.
This initial step was followed by an unprecedented letter to the ANCA by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reiterating the State Department’s support for religious freedom in Turkey and the restoration, by the Turkish government, of confiscated religious properties to their rightful owners. These are small but momentous steps of progress.
We welcomed the Secretary’s support, urged her to stand firm on this matter, and offered our help in delivering concrete results toward a policy that, taken to its logical fruition, would help bring about a new era of American-Turkish relations – based on the principles of fairness, tolerance, and mutual respect – while also, facilitating meaningful progress toward a truthful, just, and comprehensive resolution of the Armenian Genocide. Vehapar Aram I also wrote to Secretary Clinton expressing a similar perspective.
A few months later, as a result of our advocacy efforts, on December 13th of last year, the full House of Representatives passed H.Res.306 by an overwhelming voice vote.
We welcomed this vote as a powerful victory for religious freedom and as a reflection of the growing consensus that Turkey must – starting with the return of thousands of stolen Christian churches properties and holy sites – accept its responsibilities for the full moral and material implications of a truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide. So did Members of Congress, from across the political spectrum:
Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA): Religious tolerance has long been a problem for Turkey. Turkey has yet to remedy the desecration of the religious properties of over 2 million Armenians and Greeks and Assyrians and Syriacs over the last 100 years. Until these obligations are fulfilled, religious freedom will remain elusive and, frankly, relations with the United States will suffer. Prime Minister Erdogan recently issued a decree to return confiscated church properties that were taken after 1936, but the majority of confiscated religious properties, of course, were taken prior to 1936. . . We are sending a signal today that Turkey should reassess the cutoff date.
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA): We want Turkey to follow through on its commitment to return confiscated property of Christian communities and to provide compensation for properties that can’t be recovered. We want Christian communities in Turkey to enjoy the same rights and privileges that religious minorities enjoy in this country. We want Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian genocide.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): But the physical near-annihilation of the Armenian people was not enough to satisfy the Turks’ desire to wreak vengeance on Armenia, which was the first nation in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion in AD 301. Their campaign against the Armenians was broader and was aimed at destroying not only the Armenian people but also their history, their culture, and their faith.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA): The adoption of H. Res. 306 would add the powerful voice of the United States Congress to the defense of religious freedom for Christians in present-day Turkey and reinforce the traditional leadership of Congress in defending freedom of faith around the world.
Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL): In the United States we enjoy the freedom to worship, but throughout the world billions of people do not have the liberty to practice this fundamental human right. For generations, Armenian, Greek, Catholic, and Jewish minorities were punished for practicing their faith in the Ottoman Empire and modern-day Turkey.
The adoption of H.Res.306 helped challenge many myths that Turkey has long propagated in the United States and throughout the world.
First among these is that Turkey, far from being tolerant or pluralistic, was literally founded upon the violent, wholesale destruction and exile of many ancient Christian nations. The territory of Turkey, once a vital center of Christianity, now has a Christian population of less than 0.1%.
Turkey has a history of resolving issues of faith and identity through violence, not tolerance. Examples include its state-sponsored murder and persecution of Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, Cypriots and Assyrians.
We busted the myth that tokenism can be a substitute for the wholesale change that Turkey must undertake. Ankara seeks credit for renovating a handful of religious sites and converting them into museums, while seeking to escape criticism for its expropriation of thousands of Christian sites from their rightful owners.
We took on Turkey’s use of the ugly euphemism: “disused religious sites” by making it clear that the overwhelming majority of the Christian parishioners of these churches were brutally and systematically massacred and exiled.
Building upon this foundation and the growing Congressional and American civil society consensus behind the return of churches, we will press our cause forward with courage and confidence.
We invite you – and friends of Armenia and champions of religious liberty from all over the world – to join in this noble effort.
I call upon each and every one of you to bring to bear your ideas and your energy to this struggle, starting with the return of religious properties and extending to the full moral and material restitution and reparations owed by Turkey to the Armenian nation for our lost lives, our stolen territories, our confiscated properties, our desecrated holy sites, and for all the costs and unfulfilled opportunities of a post-genocidal century of struggling to survive.
This is truly a global undertaking, the success of which will rely upon our friendship and faith, our strength and our solidarity.
In solemn memory of our forbearers and for the righteousness of our Cause, I know we will persevere.