ANCA urges action ahead of vote on Turkey’s return of churches

ANCA urges action ahead of vote on Turkey’s return of churches

PanARMENIAN.Net - With just days to the vote by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act (H.R. 4347), the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has set Tuesday, June 24, as a day for Congressional calls and social media activism in support of this bipartisan religious freedom measure.

"This Tuesday, please call, post, tweet, and share your support for Turkey's return of stolen Armenian, Greek, Syriac and other Christian churches," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Let your legislators know you expect them to work for the passage of H.R.4347, and then take two minutes to tell your friends and family that you're taking a stand for the bipartisan Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act."

The ANCA is asking all supporters of religious freedom to contact their legislators to support H.R.4347, and then to find creative ways to use the hashtag #ReturnChurches in their Facebook, Twitter and other social media posts.

The U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, under the leadership of Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), is set to consider H.R. 4347, the Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act, on Thursday, June 26 at 9:00 am EST. The freedom of faith initiative is stridently opposed by the Turkish Government.

Introduced this March of this year by Chairman Royce along with the panel's Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY), H.R. 4347 would require that the U.S. Department of State formally report to Congress on an annual basis about the status of Turkey's return of stolen Christian churches and properties in Turkey and occupied Cyprus. H.R. 4347 builds on a measure (H.Res.306), spearheaded by Chairman Royce and then House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Democrat Howard Berman (D-CA), which was overwhelmingly adopted by the House of Representatives on December 13, 2011. That resolution set the groundwork for H.R.4347 by calling upon the government of Turkey to honor its international obligations to return confiscated Christian church properties and to fully respect the rights of Christians to practice their faiths.

The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres, and deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.

The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.

Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.

The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, the Italian Chamber of Deputies, majority of U.S. states, parliaments of Greece, Cyprus, Argentina, Belgium and Wales, National Council of Switzerland, Chamber of Commons of Canada, Polish Sejm, Vatican, European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.

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