The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) has issued the following statement on the most recent violation of religious freedom committed in Turkish occupied Cyprus by the Turkish occupation regime on November 30, 2011:
“The American Hellenic Institute views as unacceptable the rejection by the Turkish occupation regime of a request by Bishop of Karpasia Christoforos to conduct liturgy at the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas on November 30, 2011, the Feast Day of St. Andrew. This action is especially deplorable if taken into account that the feast of St. Andrew is one of the most sacred days for the Christians of Cyprus and that hundreds of pilgrims, including the Greek Cypriot enclaved persons, visit the Monastery on this occasion.
“For 37 years, the people of Cyprus have endured an illegal occupation and massive violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Turkey, an ally of the United States. Turkey is a signatory to a host of international treaties intended to safeguard religious freedom. This blatant violation of religious freedom on the Feast Day of St. Andrew by the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime reaffirms Turkey’s disregard of those treaties. Furthermore, this deplorable act is one of many reasons why for the past three years Turkey has been placed, and will remain, on the U.S. Commission on International Freedom’s ‘Watch List.” Sadly, the suppression of religious freedom further affirms what we already know has occurred in occupied Cyprus, which is the wanton destruction of Cyprus’ cultural and religious heritage as documented by the Law Library of Congress and the U.S. Helsinki Commission.
“Finally, this act is a violation of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 under which the president of the United States is obligated to consider imposing sanctions on any country whose government ‘engages in or tolerates violations of religious freedom. President Barack Obama must condemn the obvious violation of basic human rights that occurred on November 30, 2011 and implement the relevant provisions of the International Religious Freedom Act as they pertain to Turkey.”