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AHI Lauds Passage of Bilirakis Resolution Protecting Religious Sites & Artifacts in Cyprus

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Nick Larigakis
September 30, 2010—No. 61 (202) 785-8430

AHI Lauds Passage of Bilirakis Resolution Protecting Religious Sites & Artifacts in Cyprus

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) applauds the passage of a congressional resolution, H.Res.1631, by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tues., Sept. 28, 2010.  The resolution, introduced by Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), calls for the protection of religious sites and artifacts from and in Turkish-occupied Cyprus as well as general respect for religious freedom.

“We thank Congressman Bilirakis for spearheading this legislative initiative, and we applaud the House of Representatives for passing the resolution,” said Executive Director Nick Larigakis.  “We hope it will set the stage for the introduction of legislation in the 112th Congress that will impose sanctions on Turkey for the desecration of religious and cultural property and artifacts in Turkish-occupied Cyprus.”

H.Res.1631 had 27 co-sponsors, including House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).  Rep. Bilirakis introduced it on September 16, 2010.

The resolution urges the government of Turkey to:

  • implement immediately the United Nations Security Council Resolutions relevant to Cyprus as well as the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights;
  • work to retrieve and restore all lost artifacts and immediately halt destruction on religious sites, illegal archaeological excavations, and traffic in icons and antiquities; and
  • allow for the proper preservation and reconstruction of destroyed or altered religious sites and immediately cease all restrictions on freedom of religion for the enclaved Cypriots.
Larigakis added that AHI Foundation’s Conference “Fifty Year Anniversary of the Republic of Cyprus” will examine religion, cultural heritage, and human rights in Cyprus as part of its seven-panel conference.  The two-day conference will occur October 4-5, 2010, at the Capital Hilton, Washington.

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For additional information, please contact Demetra Atsaloglou at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.