ANTELIAS, Lebanon—The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia will boycott a September 19 church service at the renovated Holy Cross Armenian Church on the island of Aghtamar in Van, a statement from the Catholicosate’s press office, the Armenian Weekly reported Monday.
“In an attempt to convince the European Union and UNESCO that Turkey safeguards the cultural heritage of its occupied lands, the government restored the Holy Cross Armenian Church, but instead of keeping it as a church, transformed it into a museum,” the statement said. It went on to condemn the act as “an attempt to obscure its consistent policy of denying the Armenian Genocide and the rights of its survivors.”
In the statement, the Catholicosate called “upon all nations that advocate human rights to demand accountability from Turkey.” It further demanded “that the world community oblige Turkey to acknowledge that both in Western Armenia and Cilicia, occupied by Turkey, more than two thousand Armenian churches and monasteries have either been destroyed or converted into mosques or stables.”
Earlier in August, A group of Armenian children from Armenia were forced by a police officer to leave the Holy Cross for lighting candles, singing, and praying.
The statement concludes by reaffirming the Catholicosate’s commitment to justice, human rights, and genocide recognition, and by underscoring Turkey’s “obligation to restore of the rights of its survivors.”