|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides|
|October 8, 2008—No. 66||(202) 785-8430|
WASHINGTON, DC — On September 12, 2008 Joseph K. Grieboski, Founder and President of The Institute on Religion and Public Policy wrote a letter to President George W. Bush regarding Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Turkey is currently among the countries being monitored more closely for potential designation as CPC’s in 2009.
The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 is a law passed by Congress to “promote religious freedom as a U.S. foreign policy goal to combat religious persecution in other countries.” The State Department designates “countries of particular concern” for their “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” violations of religious liberty.”
“The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments, and to give independent policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress.”
“The Institute on Religion and Public Policy (IRPP) is an international, inter-religious non-profit organization that has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. It advocates for freedom of religion and belief. The Institute is dedicated to ensuring freedom of religion as the foundation for security, stability, and democracy.”
Both the USCIRF and the IRPP work according to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Both these organizations have Turkey categorized as a country to be monitored more closely. In the IRPP’s letter to President Bush, Turkey is listed for potential designation as a CPC in 2009.
On April 2, 2008, AHI sent a letter to the USCIRF regarding the little progress that has been made regarding religious freedom in Turkey, including injustices made against the religious minorities, the status of the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Halki Patriarchal School in Turkey, and the destruction of the symbols of religious heritage in the Republic of Cyprus. Moreover, on January 25, 2007 AHI Executive Director, Nick Larigakis was invited to meet with the USCIRF regarding his eye-witness account of the mistreatment of American citizens and Greek Orthodox Christians in Turkey, by that country’s officials during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
AHI has incessantly stressed the need to raise Turkey’s status from a country being monitored to a Country of Particular Concern. AHI has been the front-runner in informing our government about Turkey’s continuous violations of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. If the IRPP designates Turkey as a CPC in 2009, this in turn will put more pressure on the U.S. government to take political action to end religious intolerance in Turkey.
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THE AMERICAN HELLENIC Institute (AHI), was founded on August 1, 1974, following Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus with the illegal use of American-supplied arms in violation of U.S. laws and agreements. The AHI initiated the rule of law issue in the Congress in the interests of the U.S., thus changing the face of American politics. <<<Continue>>>
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