Royce Legislation Passes House, Calls on Turkey to End Religious Discrimination
Dec 13, 2011 -
Tonight, the House of Representatives passed H.Res.306, bipartisan legislation authored by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), which calls upon the government of Turkey to end religious discrimination, allow religious prayer and education, and return stolen church property.
"Religious freedom has been a long standing problem for Turkey," Royce said. "Turkey has failed to meet its obligations as a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its religious minorities continue to face acts of violence and harassment."
For three straight years, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has condemned Turkey’s "serious religious freedom violations" for "imposing suffocating regulations" and "denying full legal status to religious institutions." Over the years, due to persecution, religious minorities have dwindled to less than one percent of the population, leaving them in an extremely vulnerable position.
In August, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erodgan declared progress on religious freedom and signed a decree to return property confiscated from religious minorities after 1936 as well as provide compensation for property that was seized and later sold. Yet, a majority of confiscated property was taken, sold or destroyed prior to 1936.
"Despite Prime Minister Erdogan’s recent claims of progress on religious freedom, Turkey’s Christian communities continue to face severe discrimination," Royce said. "Religious freedom is a fundamental human right. I applaud the passage of H.Res.306 which urges the Republic of Turkey to safeguard its Christian heritage and return confiscated church properties."
Rep. Ed Royce is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenia.