U.S. State Department’s religious freedom report refers to Armenian church property seized in Turkey

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presented the State Department’s annual report on international religious freedom on August 15, Panorama.am reports.

The International Religious Freedom Report for 2016 found that major issues were also observed in Turkey in 2016.

Referring to the properties seized from the religious minorities by the Turkish government in previous decades, the report says that the country failed to return them in the indicated year.

In particular, it pointed out that the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia (based in Lebanon) made a second application for expedited review of a lawsuit, filed with the Constitutional Court in April 2015, to recover the centuries-old headquarters of the Catholicosate of Sis in the Kozan District of Adana Province.

It is noted that according to the lawsuit, the headquarters, now controlled by the government but once a center of Armenian Christian life, was seized in 1915 and should be returned. In June the Constitutional Court rejected the application on procedural grounds. In December the Catholicosate applied to the ECHR for the return of the property.

The report also notes that the Turkish authorities have canceled religious services at the Armenian church on Akhtamar Island on Lake Van.

It also made a reference to the elections of the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, stating that the Turkish authorities interfered in the election process of the Armenian Patriarch.

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