Politics 13:12 26/07/2011

Congressional panel urges Turkey to return church properties to Christians

Author By Harut Sassounian Publisher, The California Courier

 The House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a strongly-worded measure on July 20, pressing Turkey to return all Christian church properties "to their rightful owners."

By an overwhelming 43-1 vote, the congressional panel adopted a sweeping amendment to the State Department’s Foreign Relations Authorization Act, urging "the Secretary of State in all official contacts with Turkish leaders and other Turkish officials to emphasize that Turkey should":
1) end all religious discrimination;
2) allow the rightful church and lay owners of Christian church properties to perform religious and social services;
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 artwork, manuscripts, vestments, vessels, and other artifacts; and
4) allow the rightful church and lay owners of Christian church properties to repair all churches and other places of worship, monasteries, schools, hospitals, monuments, relics, holy sites, and other religious properties within Turkey.

Despite intensive efforts by Turkey’s Ambassador in Washington, Turkish and Azerbaijani organizations, and lobbying firms hired by Ankara, almost all members of the Committee, including Turkey’s staunchest supporters, voted in favor of the amendment, dealing Turkey a devastating defeat. The single negative vote was cast by Cong. Ron Paul (R-TX) because of his isolationist ideology and not his support for Turkey!

This near unanimous vote did not come as a surprise to me, as I had long advocated the passage of such a measure realizing that Members of Congress could not possibly vote against religious freedom. All fifteen Members of Congress who spoke during the hearing indicated their support for the amendment. Here are excerpts from some of their remarks:
-- Cong. Howard Berman (D-CA), who offered the amendment jointly with Cong. David Cicilline (D-RI), stated: "We want Turkey to return confiscated property to Christian communities and at a minimum to provide compensation for properties that can’t be recovered…. In this particular area, their [Turks’] practices for many years…have been atrocious."
-- Cong. Brad Sherman (D-CA): "This amendment is urgently needed to address the vast destruction of Christian religious heritage as a result of the Turkish government’s theft, desecration, and disregard of ancient Christian holy sites and churches."
-- Cong. Dan Burton (R-IN), one of the staunchest supporters of Turkey: "I do support the amendment. I do support religious freedom, and I hope that this amendment does pass."
-- Cong. Gerald Connolly (D-VA), co-chair of the Turkish Congressional Caucus: "Religious freedom is a tenet of American philosophy and it is a cardinal of our American values. I look forward to supporting the language."
-- Cong. Ed Royce (R-CA), co-sponsor of House Resolution 306 which formed the basis for the proposed amendment: "Turkey is identified as a country among the world’s top violators of religious freedom…. So we urge Turkey to return all confiscated church properties taken from these religions that were frankly stolen."
-- Cong. Eliot Engel (D-NY): "Turkey is an ally in NATO, and we recognize that. I wish frankly that they would act more like an ally to the United States than they have lately. They really have gone astray…. Their Foreign Minister has set out a policy of Islamism and has moved away from the European Union, the West, and the United States, and has behaved very poorly frankly with the flotilla and Israel and the whole bit."

Turkey’s Ambassador to the U.S., Namik Tan, disingenuously attributed the setback suffered by his country to the work of "radical Armenians." He must have forgotten that the Turkish government is the one paying millions of dollars to lobbying firms each year to influence Members of Congress, and that 43 out of 44 Foreign Affairs Committee members, including Turkey’s staunchest supporters, could not possibly be in the pockets of a handful of "radical Armenians."

Turkish leaders have not made a public statement after the adoption of the amendment, in order to hide this embarrassing episode. Surprisingly, Armenian government officials have not commented either on this issue. Obama administration officials have also remained silent and refrained from overt efforts to block the amendment in view of its overwhelming bipartisan support.

While Armenian, Assyrian and Greek-Americans have won the first skirmish, they have not yet won the final battle. The Authorization Bill along with this amendment will next go to the full House for approval. A similar Bill has to be adopted by the Senate. A joint committee of both houses will then attempt to reconcile the differences between the two versions. Turkish lobbyists and the Obama administration still have an opportunity to remove the amendment from the larger Bill. Supporters of the amendment must remain vigilant, urging their House and Senate representatives to vote in favor of keeping the church amendment in the Authorization Bill.

Even though the amendment has no legally binding effect, it is a moral victory for all those who cherish religious freedom, and a major political success for the Armenian-American community which went toe to toe against the mighty Turkish lobbying machine and dealt it a devastating blow. The amendment also exposes the alarming condition of Christian churches in Turkey, paving the way for other countries and international organizations, such as the Council of Europe and UNESCO, to support their restoration.

Yet, the most effective way of forcing Turkey to return the confiscated Christian churches to their rightful owners is by filing lawsuits in the European Court of Human Rights. The Turkish government has accepted the jurisdiction of that court and has readily complied with its verdicts.



Source Panorama.am
Share |
Տեքստում սխալ կամ վրիպակ նկատելու դեպքում, ուղարկեք խմբագրին հաղորդագրություն` նշելով տվյալ սխալը, այնուհետև սեղմելով Ctrl-Enter:

Newsfeed

20:46
Armenian Defense Ministry denies rumors concerning RA AF UAV being hit in Nakhijevan
Public relations department of the RA Defense Ministry informed Panorama.am that the rumors circulated by the Azerbaijani media since yesterday...
17:19
RA Minister of Justice welcomes journalists’ initiative
A charity exhibition-sale entitled “Thursday” featuring the works of 12 Armenian journalists has opened at Sharamberyan Centre of...
16:18
Armenian National Film Academy receives 3 applications for Oscars submission
The National Film Academy of Armenia has received three applications for submission to the 89th Academy Award. The movies submitted are Jivan...
16:15
Italy earthquake: Death toll rises to 290
The death toll from the quake, which struck a mountainous central region, has again risen as more bodies were found, BBC  informs....
14:58
Victims of Moscow fire are citizens of Kyrgyzstan
All 17 victims of the fire that engulfed a warehouse in the northeast of Moscow are citizens of Kyrgyzstan, TASS informs. ...
13:44
Moscow warehouse fire: Death toll reaches 17
One of the injured during the fire that engulfed a warehouse in the northeast of Moscow died in the hospital, Moscow Mayor, Sergey Sobryanin...
12:46
Explosion rocks California’s largest oil refinery, investigation underway
An explosion at an oil refinery in Los Angeles sent a cloud of chemicals, including sulfur, into the air. No injuries were reported, but members...
12:44
16 dead in huge fire at Moscow warehouse
Sixteen people have been confirmed dead since a fire engulfed a warehouse in the northeast of Moscow, the Emergency Ministry said, RT...
12:23
Train runs over a group of elephants in India
Three elephants died on Friday night after being hit by a train in South-Eastern Railway’s Bankura-Howrah section in West Bengal, India,...
12:21
Arevelk: Violinist Ara Malikian plays for Syrian refugees
The latest project of Spanish-based talented violinist, Ara Malikian of Lebanese descent, is dedicated to peace and solidarity. Touring through...
12:20
Memorial dedicated to fallen heroes of Gyumri unveiled in Mush district
A memorial dedicated to the seven heroes of Gyumri, who fell during the April War has been unveiled near the memorial to Four Day War hero,...
12:07
Belgians are hunting books, instead of Pokemon
Inspired by the success of Pokemon Go, a Belgian primary school headmaster has developed an online game for people to search for books instead...
10:57
NKR Defense Army: Adversary applied machine gun
The adversary violated the ceasefire on the Line of Contact between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan 30 times by firing more than 300 shots from...
10:51
UWC Dilijan College hosts Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2016
On 27–29 August UWC Dilijan College in Armenia will host the 5th annual meeting of the Central and Eastern Europe Wikimedia affiliates,...
19:40
Zakharova doesn’t believe US will let Russia take charge of NK conflict settlement
During the latest briefing, Spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova was asked whether or not the rumours concerning US...
19:38
Artsakh president visits Talish residents who left their houses
On 26 August Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan visited the Alashan site of the Martakert region and met with the Talish residents who had...
19:27
Moscow bank hostage taker arrested for two months
Moscow’s Presnensky district court has arrested Aram Petrosyan, a businessman who seized a bank in the center of the Russian capital on...
19:25
French wine production to fall 10% this year after fierce spring weather
Fierce storms that hit France in April will help to push wine production down by more than 10% this year, the ministry of agriculture has said,...
17:25
Iranian MFA on Turkey’s military operations in Syria
The Iranian Foreign Ministry says any military action in Syria against foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists must be coordinated with the Damascus...
17:22
RCMP allows female members to wear hijabs
Female members of the RCMP are now allowed to wear a hijab head scarf as part of their uniform, as the Mounties look to encourage more Muslim...
16:14
MES: No Armenians and Armenian citizens among victims of Italian earthquake
The Armenian Ministry of Extraordinary Affairs has contacted the Consul of Armenia to Italy, 2nd Secretary, A. Hovhannisyan. The latter informed...
16:01
Italy declares August 27 day of mourning
Some of the victims of the devastating earthquake which struck central Italy will be laid to rest tomorrow, as the Italian government declared a...
15:05
11 women applied to study at Military Institute after Vazgen Sargsyan
Reforms in the sphere of military education are inextricably linked to the reforms implemented in the defense sphere, Colonel Suren Davtyan from...
14:30
Journalists are painting
A charity exhibition-sale of the paintings created by journalists will open at Sharamberyan Center of Folk Art in Yerevan (Abovyan St. 64) on...
14:29
Charges brought against Aram Petrosyan suspected of hostage taking in Moscow bank
Investigators have brought charges against a man suspected of taking hostages in a Citibank office in central Moscow, the press service of the...
14:27
Paros wins 2 silver medals at the Choir Olympics
The 9th World Choir Games were held in July 2016 in Sochi, Russia. From 2000 onwards the biennial Games have brought together cultures and...
14:26
Criminal proceedings launched over obstruction of journalists’ professional legal actions
Criminal proceedings launched over obstruction of journalists’ professional legal actions RA Special Investigation Service informs it...
13:01
Artsakh issue is a matter of generations, Tevan Poghosyan says
The diplomatic process of the Artsakh issue is in a standstill to a certain extent, MP Tevan Poghosyan told reporters at a press conference on...
12:22
Karabakh movie “Tevanik” included in the competition program of Glendale International Film Festival
“Tevanik” directed by Jivan Avetisyan is nominated for “Best foreign film” competition of Glendale International Film...
11:39
Italy earthquake damages nearly 300 historic buildings
The devastating earthquake in Italy damaged or destroyed almost 300 buildings of historic significance, Minister of Cultural Heritage and...

Follow us and get updates!

Most popular articles

{"core.blocks.header.spell_message1":"Selected mistake: ","core.blocks.header.spell_message2":"Send a message about the mistake?"}