Armenian, Greek and Assyrian American communities mobilize in support of landmark religious freedom measure urging Turkey to allow freedom of worship in Christian Churches
WASHINGTON – On the 37th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus, a key Congressional panel is set to vote an amendment pressing Turkey to end its repression of its Christian minority, and calling for the return of Christian churches to their rightful owners.
According sources on Capitol Hill, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are set to amend the State Department Authorization bill with language similar to H.Res.306 – the “Return of Churches” resolution spearheaded by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Howard Berman (D-CA), both members of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Armenian Americans across the U.S. are continuing to make thousands of phone calls to their Representatives in support of the measure, following a weekend of action alerts issued by the Armenian National Committee of America.
Similar calls to action have been issued by Archbishops Moushegh Mardirossian and Oshagan Choloyan, Prelates of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Western and Eastern United States, respectively. Armenian American clergy are expected to attend the House panel proceeding on Wednesday morning, July 20 at 10 a.m. EST.
Armenian Americans are encouraged to contact their Representatives by visiting the ANCA Web site and typing in their ZIP Code to get contact information for their House member. Calls should be made between 9:00am and 5:00pm EST.
The measure has also received broad-based support from the Greek and Assyrian American communities, with the American Hellenic Education and Progressive Association (AHEPA) and American Hellenic Institutes issuing statements calling their community to action. “This resolution stands in the proud American tradition of championing religious freedom around the world,” stated AHEPA Supreme President Nicholas A. Karacostas. “If adopted, this measure will further reinforce our nation’s commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and also build upon the passage by Congress of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and many other pieces of legislation promoting religious freedom abroad.”
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will be webcasting the “Return of Churches” amendment vote live on the Committee Web site.