Dec 28 2011

House's 'powerful victory for religious freedom'

Charlie Butts

The U.S. House has passed a resolution that calls on the government of
Turkey to end repression of the remnants of ancient Christian and
pre-Christian civilizations and return the property taken from them.

House Resolution 306, spearheaded by Representative Ed Royce
(R-California) and Howard Berman (D-California), was recently passed
by a huge majority, calling on the State Department to raise the
issue. Aram Hamparian of the Armenian National Committee of America
(ANCA) tells OneNewsNow the persecution has been going on for many

"This includes the Armenian Church, the Assyrian Church, the Greek
Church, the Syriak Church -- many of the Christian communities that
have been present in Anatolia since biblical times and even before the
time of Christ," he explains.

The more serious persecution occurred early last century.

"They were largely seized during the period of the Armenian genocide,
which started in 1915, which was an effort to wipe out the entire
Christian population of the Ottoman Empire. And it very nearly
succeeded in doing that," the ANCA executive director laments.
"Armenians and Syrians, Greeks, Pontians and others represented over
two million of the citizens of the Ottoman Empire, and today they
represent less than one percent."

About a million and a half people were killed, and now only a handful
of churches exist, compared to thousands that were in Turkey prior to
the alleged genocide. Turkey denies the latter and has lashed out at
the House for passing the resolution.

But despite opposition from Turkey's prime minister and the Obama
administration, ANCA chairman Ken Hachikian says the adoption
"represents a powerful victory for religious freedom."