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Sanctions are needed against Turkey for the survival of Christians: Human rights leaders urge the United States




Christian human rights leaders have called on the Trump administration to issue sanctions on Turkey in response to its actions in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, and warned that Turkish actions were guided by “animus” against Christians.

The calls came during a panel discussion, hosted by the group In Defence of Christians Friday, titled “Turkey is Committing Another Christian Genocide. Why is the Trump Administration Silent?” The event focused on Turkish actions in the recent conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The historic conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has reignited in recent weeks. The two countries, formerly part of the Soviet Union (USSR), fought a six-year war over the territory from 1988 to 1994 after the fall of the USSR, ending in a ceasefire. The United Nations currently recognizes the territory as part of Azerbaijan, but administered by ethnic Armenians. Turkey has been accused of actively exporting Syrian Islamist extremists to Azerbaijan to fight Armenia.

Friday’s discussion featured panelists Toufic Baaklini, president of In Defense of Christians; Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America; Robert Avetisyan, Permanent Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to the United States; Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute; Rich Ghazal of In Defense of Christians; and Endy Zemenides of the Hellenic American Leadership Council.

Turkey, said Baaklini, is a dangerous actor, and “We expect the Trump Administration to take action.” He said that the current policy towards Turkey is not working, and that “President Trump and Congress need to heavily sanction Turkey” in light of their hostility towards Christians.

Several of the panelists called for sanctions in response to Turkish violations of international agreements.

In October 2019, explained Ghazal, sanctions were lifted after Turkey agreed to a cease-fire in northeast Syria. Since then, however, “Turkey has violated this U.S.-brokered ceasefire over 800 times,” Ghazal said.

On Oct. 8, militants shelled a cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, destroying part of the roof and damaging the walls of Holy Savior Cathedral in Shusha. Nagorno-Karabakh officially belongs to Azerbaijan, but it is also claimed by the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh.

Armenians said that Turkish-backed forces from Azerbaijan were behind the attack.

The attack on the cathedral drew condemnation from Christian leaders and religious freedom advocates.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom stated last week that it was “dismayed to learn” of damage to the cathedral, and called for “the safeguarding of places of worship and religious sites.”

Avetisyan said the present conflict is “unprecedented,” and that it is mercenaries hired by Turkey, not jihadists, who are behind much of the violence.

“We need the world to speak out,” said Avetisyan. “We need the world to be involved in this situation.”

He called for the recognition of Artsakh, which has presently not been recognized by any United Nations member states, saying that it would send a message to Azerbaijan.

While Turkey has been given a pass for their past behavior, Rubin explained, there was “absolutely no excuse” for what is currently happening in Artsakh.

Turkey, he said, has no historical claim to Artsakh, nor does it have any history with the region. Rubin said that Turkey’s “sole motivation” in the conflict has been “purely animus.”

This animus, he said, extends “not to Armenians as a people, but to Christianity as a religion.”

“It becomes clear that perhaps we shouldn’t accept Turkey’s excuses anymore,” he said and said that the country has been “actively supporting” the Islamic State.

Zemenides and Ghazal both pointed out that the dwindling number of Christians in the region is akin to the accepted definition of genocide.

Zemenides stated that “the existence of Artsakh is an inconvenience” for Turkey, and noted that there are now fewer than 2,000 Greek Orthodox Christians in the country, and called its treatment of Christian minorities a “stain” on all western countries who are not speaking up for the Christians in the region.

Rubin classified President Donald Trump’s relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as “absolutely bizarre,” and called for further action. There is a need for Congress to be “more assertive,” when it comes to Turkey he said, and this applies to both political parties.

“Congress has to stop allowing the White House to hand out waivers,” he said.

Zemenides said that “If we cannot take a stand at this point–when churches are being bombed, when civilians are being bombed, when there is no end in sight it’s going to be a stain on our collective conscience.”

Ghazal further called for Turkey to be designated a “Country of Particular Concern” by the Office of International Religious Freedom, although he noted that it is up to the Department of State to make this call.

The U.S., he said, “Must take action in the form of tough, biting sanctions and a discontinuation of military aid.”


അൽ-അക്സാ പള്ളി അക്രമത്തില്‍ ഇസ്രയേലിന് ഹമാസിന്‍റെ മുന്നറിയിപ്പ്



റംസാന്‍ മാസത്തിലെ അവസാനത്തെ വെള്ളിയാഴ്ച വിശുദ്ധഭൂമിയില്‍ ഇസ്രയേല്‍‌ നടത്തിയ അക്രമത്തിനെതിരെ ലോക സമൂഹം ഒറ്റക്കെട്ടായി പ്രതിഷേധിച്ചു. ഇസ്ലാം മതത്തെ സംബന്ധിച്ച് മൂന്നാമത്തെ ഏറ്റവും വിശുദ്ധ സ്ഥലമാണ് അൽ-അക്സാ പള്ളി സംയുക്തം. ഈ സ്ഥലം യഹൂദന്മാരുടെയും ഏറ്റവും പുണ്യസ്ഥലമാണ്, അവർ ഇതിനെ ക്ഷേത്ര പര്‍വ്വതം എന്ന് വിളിക്കുകയും വേദപുസ്തക ക്ഷേത്രങ്ങൾ നിലകൊള്ളുന്ന സ്ഥലമായി അതിനെ ആരാധിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നു. ക്രിസ്തുമതവും ഈ പ്രദേശത്തെ വുശുദ്ധമായ ആരാധിക്കുന്നു. എന്നാല്‍ ഇന്ന് ഇസ്രായേൽ-പലസ്തീൻ അക്രമത്തിന്‍റെ ഒരു പ്രധാന കേന്ദ്രമാണ് ഈ വിശുദ്ധ പ്രദേശം. ഇന്നലെ രാത്രിയില്‍‌ അൽ-അക്സാ പള്ളിക്ക് സമീപം എന്താണ് സംഭവിച്ചതെന്ന കാര്യത്തില്‍ ഇപ്പോഴും ആശയകുഴപ്പം നിലനില്‍ക്കുകയാണ്. വിശുദ്ധമാസത്തിലെ അവസാന വെള്ളിയാഴ്ച രാത്രി ഏതാണ്ട് 70,000 ത്തോളം പാലസ്തീനികള്‍ അൽ-അക്സയിൽ നടന്ന റമദാൻ പ്രാർത്ഥനയിൽ പങ്കെടുത്തതായി സൈറ്റിന്റെ മേൽനോട്ടം വഹിക്കുന്ന ഇസ്ലാമിക് എൻ‌ഡോവ്‌മെന്‍റ് അറിയിച്ചു. വിശാലമായ ആ കുന്നില്‍ മുകളില്‍ രാത്രിയിലുണ്ടായ അക്രമത്തില്‍ 200 ല്‍ പരം സാധാരണക്കാര്‍ക്ക് പരിക്കേറ്റു. രണ്ട് പേര്‍ മരിച്ചു. പരിക്കേറ്റവരിൽ 88 പേരെ ആശുപത്രിയിൽ പ്രവേശിപ്പിച്ചതായി പലസ്തീൻ റെഡ് ക്രസന്‍റ് എമർജൻസി സർവീസ് പറഞ്ഞു. അക്രമത്തില്‍‌ 17 ഇസ്രയേല്‍ പൊലീസുകാര്‍ക്ക് പരിക്കേറ്റതായി ഇസ്രായേൽ പൊലീസും പറയുന്നു.

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Anti-Conversion Law Cripples Another Family in Madhya Pradesh



India – On April 4, 2021, Madhya Pradesh police sheltered a pastor and his family from a murderous mob of 300 Hindu radicals.

According to Morning Star News, Pastor Manu Damor and his wife, Asha finished the Easter evening service when five men began interrogating him and his family and became irritated when Pastor Manu refused them. Later, 300 Hindu extremists attacked the family and four other couples.

Some men started destroying the motorbike, and others broke through the windows, attacking the family’s home, other men tearing off the roof to get inside. “We will kill you and send your dead bodies from here,” one of the Hindu extremists said. Police came in time to stop the mob from burning the house down.

Police detained the family inside the police station for their safety. However, members of the mob harassed the police and filed a false First Information Report (FIR) claimed the pastor and his wife bribed Leela Bai to become a Christian. With no other evidence, police charged the couple under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religious Ordinance, 2020, now known as the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2021. The law criminalizes religious conversions by “misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement (or allurement) or by any fraudulent means or by marriage.”

Pastor Manu and his wife were not aware of the claims against them nor informed of the charges until brought before a magistrate. They had their three small children with them at the time, 4, 5, and 18 months old. For two weeks, Asha sat in a cell with 23 other prisoners until finally, on April 12, she posted bail and returned to her children. The Session Court, Morning Star News said, refused bail for Pastor Manu and will assign him a new lawyer.

The Christian community does not trust the police to protect them, believing that the police will side with the Hindu extremists to avoid conflict.

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