Armenia prioritizes protection of religious groups at key D.C. forum

Armenia prioritizes protection of religious groups at key D.C. forum

PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenia promotes adherence to international human rights instruments and firm commitments to ensuring freedom of religion within the framework of the overall democratization of the society, Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said in his remarks at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

Held in Washington D.C., the Ministerial seeks to reaffirm international commitments to promote religious freedom for all and focus on concrete outcomes that produce durable, positive change.

Mnatsakanyan said protection of religious groups has been well-defined in the crime suppression international instruments such as the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

"Preventing mass atrocities against members of religious groups is an absolute priority for Armenia. We know what it means to be a persecuted religious group within the oppressive framework. It is a duty for us to pledge support to all those who are persecuted, including on the basis of their religion and belief today," the Armenian Foreign Policy Chief said.

"Armenia has become a safe haven for a number of vulnerable religious minorities particularly Yazidis and Assyrians. Today Yazidis are the strongest minority group in Armenia, and we are very proud that the biggest temple of this ancient people very soon will open in their Armenian homeland. Together with the most ancient Christian churches of the world and magnificent Blue Mosque of Yerevan it will symbolize beauty of faith and tolerance."

Unfortunately, he said, humanity has been witnessing recurrence of mass atrocities including acts of genocide against Yazidis and Christians in the Middle East. Persecutions occur in the name of religion, as religion is often misused and abused by those who perpetrate violence or justify it, he added.

"Today we have received more than 20 thousand refugees from the Middle East and provided assistance to them on the ground," Mnatsakanyan said.

"Armenia stands ready to cooperate with all interested parties to recover ancestral presence of Christians in the Middle East by rebuilding their lives, communities and churches. The Armenian people historically have been significant contributors to diversity, harmony and prosperity of the countries and societies of the Middle East. This conference provides an excellent platform to initiate partnerships to this end."

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