Politics 10:44 08/08/2018 Region

Turkey pressures non-Muslim leaders into claiming that they are not pressured

By Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

In a recent article, I wrote about the U.S. State Department’s annual report on International Religious Freedom which stated that “all religious groups that are not Sunni Muslim suffer discrimination and persecution in Turkey…. Religious minorities said they continued to experience difficulties obtaining exemptions from mandatory [Islamic] religion classes in public schools, operating or opening houses of worship, and in addressing land and property disputes. The government restricted minority religious groups’ efforts to train their clergy….”

Immediately after this report was issued, the Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected it calling the documented violations of religious rights “a repetition of certain baseless claims.”

Turkish President Rejep Tayyip Erdogan sought a stronger rebuttal of the State Department’s accusations against Turkey, even though he usually ignores all complaints about his country’s flagrant violations of the human rights of its own Turkish citizens as well as those of its minorities and even Americans such as Pastor Andrew Brunson. Erdogan immediately ordered his aides to orchestrate a joint statement signed by all non-Muslim leaders in Turkey, claiming that their religious rights are not violated. Since these non-Muslim leaders are hostages in Turkey, they had no choice but to sign the petition that was prepared for them by the Turkish government.

While it would be easy for us to criticize these minority leaders for misrepresenting the violations they are subjected to, this argument should be balanced by the fact that they live under a brutal regime that has no qualms about jailing and torturing not only the religious leaders but also their community members. We should also be somewhat gratified that Pres. Erdogan, despite his despotic nature, has exhibited a rare sensitivity on the accusations against his country, and has valued the statement issued by the non-Muslim leaders, thinking that it would help Turkey look good in the eyes of the international community.

As directed by Pres. Erdogan, the representatives of 18 non-Muslim minority groups in Turkey submissively signed the joint statement on July 31, 2018, claiming that their rights are not violated by the Turkish government.

The statement falsely declared: “As religious representatives and foundation directors of the ancient communities of different religions and belief groups that have been living in our country for centuries, we live our beliefs freely and we freely worship according to our traditions. Statements claiming or implying that there is repression are completely false. The various problems and times of victimization in the past have reached solutions over time. We are in continual communication with our state institutions, who meet the issues we wish to advance with good intentions and a desire for solutions. We are making this joint statement consciously out of the responsibility to correctly inform public opinion.”

The signatories were the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeos I, Turkey’s Armenian Deputy Patriarch Archbishop Aram Ateshyan, Turkey’s Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva, Syriac Ancient Community Deputy Patriarch Mor Filuksinos Yusuf Chetin, Turkey’s Armenian Catholics Spiritual Leader Archbishop Levon Zekiyan, Chaldean Community Deputy Patriarch François Yakan, Turkish Syriac Catholic General Deputy Patriarch Chorbishop Orhan Chanlı, Gedikpasha Armenian Protestant Church and Denomination Foundation Spiritual President Pastor Kirkor Agabaloglu, RUMVADER President Andon Parizyanos, VADIP and Yedikule Sourp Pergich Armenian Hospital Foundation President Bedros Shirinoglu, Turkish Jewish Society and Turkish Chief Rabbinate Foundation President Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, Beyoglu Syriac Lady Mary Church Foundation President Sait Susin, Sourp Agop Armenian Catholic Hospital Foundation President Bernard Sarıbay, Istanbul Syriac Catholic Foundation President Zeki Basatemir, Chaldean Catholic Church Foundation President Teoman Onder, Bulgarian Exarchate Orthodox Church Foundation President Vasil Liaze, Georgian Catholic Church Foundation President Paul Zazadza, and Haskoy Turkish Karaite Jewish Foundation President Misha Orme. The joint statement of these 18 non-Muslim leaders was widely disseminated to all minority newspapers in Turkey, all Turkish media, and many overseas publications.

Interestingly, on August 1, 2018, a day after signing their joint statement, all 18 non-Muslim leaders were invited to the Dolmabahche Official Reception Hall in Istanbul and had a four-hour luncheon meeting with Ibrahim Kalin, Pres. Erdogan’s Spokesman. Erdogan himself was initially supposed to attend this meeting, but was unable to do so at the last minute.

While the joint statement was intended to conceal the many difficulties experienced by non-Muslim institutions in Turkey, this bluff was quickly exposed when the participants at the meeting complained to Ibrahim Kalin about the multiple violations of their religious rights.

For example, Archbishop Ateshyan reported to the local Armenian media that he and Shirinoglu told Kalin about the properties that in recent years were returned to Armenian community foundations, only to have the decision reversed by a mayor or a government minister. They also complained about the Patriarchate’s legal status and inability to receive contributions as a result of which the Patriarchate suffers from a serious financial hardship. Abp. Ateshyan suggested that either the Turkish government allow the Patriarchate to receive contributions or allocate a budget to pay its expenses. Abp. Ateshyan also brought up the suspended elections of local church executive committees, and the postponement of the Patriarchal election. The other participants in the luncheon also complained to Kalin about their various difficulties, contradicting their own signed statement that they have no religious problems in Turkey. That is why the luncheon took four hours!

Kalin, in turn, thanked the signatories on behalf of Pres. Erdogan for their joint statement, making it obvious that it was a major public relations coup for Turkey.

The only voice opposed to the joint declaration of non-Muslim leaders was Garo Paylan, an Armenian Member of the Turkish Parliament, who boldly stated: “They don’t allow us to elect our Patriarch, they don’t permit us to open a seminary, they don’t give us the right to elect the board members of our church foundations, and the community is scared like a pigeon!”

The joint statement was clearly signed under duress. Ironically, the minority leaders were pressured by the Turkish regime to claim that they are not pressured! Only in Turkey!



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

Newsfeed

11:48
Armenia’s daily coronavirus cases rise by 356 on May 7
Armenia has confirmed 356 new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 218,681 as of 11 a.m. Friday, May 7, the Ministry...
11:37
Pashinyan's former lawyer files lawsuit against him
Armenian lawyer Tigran Atanesyan has filed a lawsuit against Nikol Pashinyan, Panorama.am learned from DataLex, an online database providing...
11:18
White House: NATO ‘door remains open’ to nations that meet conditions
U.S. President Joe Biden's administration is committed to keeping NATO's door open for countries who want to join once they are ready...
11:06
Spanish MP calls for immediate release of Armenian POWs
Spanish lawmaker Antón Gómez-Reino from the Unidas Podemos party urged Azerbaijan to immediately release all Armenian prisoners of...
10:48
India's daily coronavirus cases rise by record 414,188
India on Friday reported a record daily rise in coronavirus cases of 414,188, while deaths from COVID-19 swelled by 3,915, Reuters reported,...
10:36
Road condition update
Armenia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations provided updates on road conditions on Friday morning. In particular, the roadway leading...
10:10
Rep. Chris Smith calls for $50,000,000 in direct U.S. humanitarian aid to Artsakh
Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) – the most senior member on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee – has called on House...
20:35
Ishkhan Saghatelyan: New bloc committed to stopping collapse of Armenian statehood
Ishkhan Saghatelyan, one of the leaders of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF, Dashnaktsutyun) party, said that the party...
20:00
Artur Davtyan: 14.2 billion drams worth of damage recovered in corruption cases in 2020
Criminal proceedings were launched against 1,356 people in Armenia in 2020 alone, with the number exceeding the figures of 2019 by 7.3%,...
19:26
No incidents reported at border with Azerbaijan – Armenian Defense Ministry
The operational and tactical situation remained stable along the entire length of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on 5 and 6 May with no border...
19:11
‘Reliable as an AK-47’: Putin spotlights high marks given to Russian vaccines overseas
Russian President Vladimir Putin has highlighted the remarks emanating from abroad that Russia’s vaccines against the coronavirus...
18:58
Criminal cases opened against Baku for using banned weapons against Artsakh, says Armenia’s prosecutor general
Criminal cases have been opened against Azerbaijan for using banned weapons against the Armenians of Artsakh during last year’s war,...
18:36
World food price index hits highest level since mid-2014 – FAO
World food prices increased for a 11th consecutive month in April, hitting their highest level since May 2014, with sugar leading a rise in all...
18:18
570 baby boys named Monte in Armenia in 2020
Out of the 17,299 baby girls born in Armenia in 2020, 745 were named Nare, according to the official statistics. Maria, Angelina, Arpi,...
17:58
Determination of Artsakh’s status must be at the core of conflict settlement, says Armenia’s interim FM
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is far from being settled, Armenia’s caretaker Foreign Minister Ara Aivazian told a joint news conference...
17:07
Kocharyan to lead Reviving Armenia-ARF bloc in snap elections
The Reviving Armenia party on Thursday announced its decision to form an alliance with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF,...
16:30
Civil Contract to go it alone in snap parliamentary elections – Lilit Makunts
Nikol Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party will not form an alliance with any other political force for the upcoming snap parliamentary...
15:50
Russia's top diplomat warns against politicizing Nagorno-Karabakh peace process
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned on Thursday against attempts to politicize the process underway in Nagorno-Karabakh...
15:34
Lavrov, Aivazian sign memorandum of understanding on biosafety
Armenia’s caretaker Foreign Minister Ara Aivazian and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday signed a memorandum of...
15:14
Canada authorises Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for children aged 12 to 15
Canada has authorised the use of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 15. It is the first country to do so...
15:00
Armenia removes mandatory PCR tests for visitors vaccinated against COVID-19
Armenia is introducing vaccine certificates or the so-called 'Green passports' to those vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter and leave...
14:41
Lavrov responds to Aliyev's 'Zangezur corridor' claims
"Today's talks covered not only the trilateral cooperation aimed at unblocking economic links in the region but the whole spectrum of...
14:12
UK sends Navy ships to Jersey as post-Brexit fishing dispute deepens
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday sent two Navy patrol vessels to Jersey over concerns that French fishermen could blockade its...
14:06
Shushi Cathedral should remain a place of worship of the Armenian church - Ara Aivazian
"The issue of preservation and protection of religious and cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh has become a part of the conflict...
13:18
Latvia officially recognizes the Armenian Genocide
The Saeima of Latvia on Thursday passed a declaration on the Armenian Genocide committed in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The document,...
12:53
Ombudsman's office releases an Ad Hoc Report on the so-called 'Trophy park' of killed Armenian soldiers in Baku
The Human Rights Defender of Armenia Arman Tatoyan reports that the Ombudsman's Office has released a new Ad Hoc Report on a park of killed...
12:14
Sergey Lavrov paid tribute to Armenian Genocide victims at Tsitsernakaberd complex
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov accompanied by the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Ara Aivazian, visited the...
12:07
US Secretary of State welcomes the release of three Armenian detainees
The US welcomes Azerbaijan's release of three Armenian detainees, US State Secretary Antony Blinken tweeted on Wednesday, commenting on the...
11:45
Armenia reports 425 new coronavirus cases, 17 more deaths on May 6
Armenia has confirmed 425 new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 218,325 as of 11 a.m. Thursday, May 6, the...
11:31
Minsk Group Co-Chairs call for fully and expeditiously completing the exchange process for all prisonersand detainees
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group welcome Azerbaijan's release of Armenian detainees Robert Vardanyan, Samvel Shukhyan, and Seryan...

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?"}