December 4, 2021 - 14:01 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The U.S. Department of State has unveiled a fresh report on "poor" religious freedom conditions in Turkey, noting that "new forms of intimidation towards Turkey’s Armenian community" have emerged.
Prepared by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the report said that Armenian religious heritage sites in Turkey remain under threat.
In early 2021 the Surp Toros Armenian church in Kütahya was demolished after coming into the possession of an unknown individual—despite holding protected status. In August bulldozers destroyed an Armenian cemetery in Van Province.
According to the report, the Turkish government frequently fails to halt construction projects that threaten cemeteries; for example, in March 2021 the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Member of Parliament (MP) Garo Paylan, who has Armenian roots, submitted a parliamentary inquiry to ask why the government had not halted the construction of a state-owned bank over an Armenian and Catholic cemetery in historic downtown Ankara. In April 2021, in response to Paylan’s statements on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, nationalist MP Ümit Özdağ threatened: “you’ll also have a Talat Pasha experience and you should have it.”
Talat Pasha was the principal architect of the Armenian Genocide.
"Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic and the November 2020 conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has fueled anti-Armenian conspiracies and intimidating, anti-Armenian protests," the report said.