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Turkey to return some confiscated Christian properties

30 Αυγούστου 2011

Turkey to return some confiscated Christian properties

VatopaidiFriend: Our friend that sent us the following article, also sent the following comment «I fear it is too early to «celebrate» the issue of this decree/law. We must wait and study in detail the particular provisions of this decree/law and observe how effectively and impartially it will be applied by the Turkish authorities which have a long and dreadful history of state discrimination against non-Muslims (Christians, Jews and other minorities…) to the point of their physical and cultural extinction and annihilation. I fear that the deadline of 12 months may be a «legal way» to confiscate the properties definitely and under the cover «legality.» Timeo Turcos et dona ferentes!»

PanARMENIAN.Net – Fearing mounting losses at the European Court of Human Rights and recent adoption of Congressional legislation calling attention to its repression of Christian communities, the Turkish government issued a decree this weekend which would return Christian and Jewish religious properties confiscated after 1936, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

«Erdogan’s decree, clearly prompted by increased Congressional scrutiny of Turkey’s repression of its Christian minority and successive losses at the European Court of Human Rights, would return less than one percent of the churches and church properties confiscated during the Armenian Genocide and the decades that followed it,» said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian. «Ninety six years after the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians, Greeks, and Syriacs, this decree is a smokescreen to evade the much broader consequences of those brutal acts. The ANCA will expand its outreach to Congress and the Administration to ensure that the Turkish Government comes to terms with its brutal past, respects the religious freedom of surviving Christian communities and returns the fruits of its crime.”

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According to the Associated Press, «the properties include former hospital, orphanage or school buildings and cemeteries. Their return is a key European Union demand and a series of court cases has also been filed against primarily Muslim Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights. Last year, the court ordered Turkey to return an orphanage to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.»

Armenian Church experts say that of the over 2,000 churches serving the Armenian community prior to 1915, less than 40 are functioning as churches today.

Erdogan’s decree comes just weeks after a 43-1 House Foreign Affairs Committee vote on an amendment to the State Department Authorization bill, spearheaded by Ranking Democrat Howard Berman (D-CA) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), calling for the return of Christian Churches confiscated by the Turkish government and an end to Turkey’s discrimination against its Christian communities. The amendment is similar to a resolution (H.Res.306), introduced in June by Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Howard Berman (D-CA), which has over 35 cosponsors.

In March, Congressional Hellenic Caucus co-chairs Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced legislation (H.Res.180), reiterating a longstanding call by House members for Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.