Home Foreign Affairs Committee Passes Amendment Calling on Turkey to Return Christian Churches

The U.S. Home Foreign Affairs Committee passed an amendment on 20, July, calling on Turkey to return christian churches. The Berman- Cicilline amendment is based on the ‘Return of Churches’ resolution introduced by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Ed Royce and Howard Berman (D-CA), both senior members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. With a vote of 43 to 1, the Home Foreign Affairs Committee, voted for the end of Turkey’s repression of its Christian minority, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Armenian, National Committee of America, Executive Director, Aram Hamparian, said ,“Today’s overwhelming vote represents a powerful victory for religious freedom, and a step toward the rightful return of the thousands of Christian churches and holy sites stolen by Turkey through genocide.” He continued, “Ninety six years after the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians, the Turkish Government has destroyed or confiscated the vast majority of their holy sites and places of worship. The Foreign Affairs Committee today sent a powerful message to Turkey that it must come to terms with this brutal legacy, respect religious freedom of surviving Christian communities, and return the fruits of its crimes.”

Scores of Armenian Americans across the U.S. made heartfelt phone calls to their Representatives in support of the measure, following a week of action alerts issued by the Armenian National Committee of America. Archbishops, Moushegh Mardirossian and Oshagan Choloyan, Prelates of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Western and Eastern United States  also supported the amendment by calling for action. His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian, Fr. Mesrob Hovsepyan, and Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan were present at the Committee too, offering their support for the passage of this legislation.

Speaking on behalf of the American Hellenic Education and Progressive Association (AHEPA), the Supreme President Nicholas A. Karacostas, stated, “This resolution, stands in the proud American tradition of championing religious freedom around the world.” He went on to say, “If adopted, this measure will further reinforce our nation’s commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and also build upon the passage by Congress of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and many other pieces of legislation promoting religious freedom abroad.”

To see the proceedings live on its website, go to – http://www.anca.org.