SACRAMENTO—The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region welcomed the introduction of Assembly Joint Resolution 34 (AJR 34) introduced by California Assembly Member Katcho Achadjian (R-33). The resolution calls on the Republic of Turkey to respect religious freedom and return church properties to its minority communities.
“I believe that this resolution is an important step in a long journey,” said Achadjian. “Religious tolerance and freedoms are fundamental pillars of modern society. This resolution will urge the Republic of Turkey to end religious discrimination and return confiscated church properties back to their rightful owners.”
The resolution encourages the Republic of Turkey to ensure that its minorities and indigenous peoples can freely practice their religion and maintain their communities. It draws attention to the thousands of properties that have been confiscated and, in many cases, destroyed. Much of this occurred during and in the years following the Armenian Genocide. Many within the Armenian American community in California and the United States are the descendants of parishioners from churches that are currently off-limits to the remaining Armenian community of Turkey.
“California is home to many survivors of the Armenian Genocide and we must address the contemporary consequences of this crime against humanity,” said Armen Garabedian, chairman of the ANCA-WR’s California State Affairs committee. “While we continue to fight against the final stage of genocide which is its denial, it is also important to take concrete steps towards justice so that we send a clear message that perpetrators cannot profit from the crime.”
In June 2011, the United States House of Representatives introduced a similar resolution, House Resolution 306. The following month, an amendment to a State Department Authorization Bill, which included the same core text of H.Res.306, originally sponsored by Ed Royce (D-CA), passed by an overwhelming 43-1 in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The amendment received broad bi-partisan support including supporting votes from many members of the Congressional Caucus on Turkey and Turkish Americans, including one of its co-chairs, who served in the committee. That vote paved the way for the successful adoption of the resolution by the full U.S. House of Representatives in December 2011.
“As a country founded on the principles of religious freedom, the United States and California can take another step in honoring that tradition by passing this resolution,” noted Raffi Kassabian, a member of the ANCA-WR’s Board of Directors. “The passage of this resolution helps ensure that religious freedom is respected in free and democratic societies, especially by countries which claim to be our allies and partners.”
Those interested in learning more about the resolution and participating in the community’s commemoration activities in the State Capitol should contact the ANCA-WR at (818) 500-1918.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
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