U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced H.R.4347, Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act, on March 28, 2014.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has identified the Republic of Turkey as a leading violator of religious freedom, placing its Christian minorities in an especially vulnerable position. Although Turkey regards itself as a secular democracy, the restrictions placed upon its religious minorities, especially Christians, deny freedom of religious expression and practice of faith. Further by expropriation of church properties and refusing to grant full legal status to a number of Christian groups, Turkey has failed to fulfill its international obligation as a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which calls for “freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.”
The bill, H.R.4347, requires “the Secretary of State to provide an annual report to Congress regarding United States Government efforts to survey and secure the return, protection, and restoration of stolen, confiscated, or otherwise unreturned Christian properties in the Republic of Turkey and in those areas currently occupied by the Turkish military in northern Cyprus.”
H.R.4347 will be amended to include H.Res.188, which is Congressman Gus Bilirakis’s resolution calling upon Turkey to facilitate the reopening of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Theological School of Halki without condition or further delay.
When the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee convenes this Thursday, June 26, 10:30 a.m., it will hold a mark-up of H.R.4347, which means a vote is expected on the bill by the Committee.
We urge you to contact members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and ask them to support H.R.4347, as amended, which demands Turkish accountability for the return, protection, and restoration of stolen and confiscated Christian properties in Turkey and in Turkish-occupied Cyprus; and calls for the reopening of the Halki Seminary.
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Contact U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Members--Urge Them to Support H.R.4347, Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act