RICCIARDONE CLAIMS MOST PRE-1915 CHRISTIAN CHURCHES IN TURKEY ARE STILL OPERATING
Ambassadorial Nominee's False Statement Comes in Response to Written Question from Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey
WASHINGTON, DC - Ambassador Francis Ricciardone, President Obama's"recess" appointee to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, in awritten response to questions submitted to him by Senator RobertMenendez (R-NJ), made the patently incorrect claim that "most ofthe Christian churches functioning [on the territory of present-dayTurkey] prior to 1915 are still operating as churches," reportedthe Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
"Ambassador Ricciardone's demonstrably false assertion betrays acallous disregard for Ottoman Turkey's wholesale destruction ofChristian churches, and for the fate of the millions of Christianfaithful, who worshipped in their homeland within these holy sitesuntil their genocidal annihilation," said Aram Hamparian, ExecutiveDirector of the ANCA. "Whether his response is due to a trulyremarkable lack of awareness or, instead, to a willful distortionof the facts of history to fit Ankara's genocide denial narrative,this nominee has clearly shown he's unable to effectively advanceU.S. interests or American values as our nation's representative inAnkara."
The historical record shows that of the over 2000 Armenian Churchesthat were functioning on the territory of present-day Turkey in1915, less than 50 operate today.
Whitewashing Religious Freedom Abuses in Turkey:
Ambassador Ricciardone's response fits into a pattern of statementsglossing over well-documented and far-reaching religious freedomabuses in Turkey. Earlier this year, during his July confirmationhearing, in response to Delaware Senator Chris Coons' question asto what steps he had taken to promote religious freedom in Turkey,Amb. Ricciardone offered this evasive answer: "…veryinterestingly, they [the Turkish Government] follow our debatesabout personal freedom and religious freedom and they say 'Here ishow you can understand this, American Ambassador. In your country,you have in recent years made a distinction between freedom ofreligion and the concept of freedom from religion. For too long inour modern republic we focused on preventing the intrusion ofreligion in our national life and political life. We are quitecomfortable to be observant Muslims, please don't call usIslamists, by the way,' they tell us, 'but to the extent someone ispraying as a Christian or a Jew, it really doesn't bother us at all– why should it? It's no threat to the state, on the contrary, weare rather proud of our diversity and we happy to have them do it.As to their property issues, let us take a fresh look at this andmake sure they get justice.'"
This assessment is sharply at odds with reports by the U.S.Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), whichraised the following alarm in its 2011 report: "The Turkishgovernment continues to impose serious limitations on freedom ofreligion or belief, thereby threatening the continued vitality andsurvival of minority religious communities in Turkey."
Reservations about the Ambassador's willingness to accept theTurkish government's talking points on religious tolerance at facevalue echo concerns expressed last fall by then Senator SamBrownback (R-KS), who, during the last session of Congress, placeda hold on Ambassador Ricciardone's nomination to serve as U.S.Ambassador to Turkey. In an August 16, 2010, letter to SecretaryClinton, Sen. Brownback voiced disapproval of Ricciardone's tenureas U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, noting, among other things, that "hequickly adopted the positions and arguments of his Egyptiandiplomatic counterparts."
In the wake of Senator Brownback's hold, President Obamacircumvented Senate objections by issuing a "recess appointment" ofAmb. Ricciardone. The Senate must approve his nomination in theupcoming months, if Ambassador Ricciardone is to continue to servein Turkey for more than one year, of the usual three-yearambassadorial term. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee willlikely take up his nomination upon their return from the AugustCongressional recess.
The written exchange on this subject between Senator Menendez andAmbassador Ricciardone is provided below:
Sen. Menendez: "To the best of your knowledge, approximately howmany of the more than 2,000 Christian churches functioning prior to1915 on the territory of present-day Turkey are still operatingtoday as churches?"
Amb. Ricciardone: "Most of the Christian churches functioning priorto 1915 are still operating as churches. Some churches ofsignificance operate as museums. The remaining have fallen intodisrepair or were converted to mosques for lack of use."
Lanzamiento de la Red Informativa de Genocidio y Derechos Humanos
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viernes, 12 de agosto de 2011
MOST PRE-1915 CHRISTIAN CHURCHES IN TURKEY ARE
Publicado por Fundación Luisa Hairabedian en 11:18