Turkey Has Been Slowly Suffocating Its Christian Community

01/25/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In 1915, Turkey (the Ottoman Empire) slaughtered over one million Armenian Christians in what is now known as the Armenian genocide. Turkey is still oppressing Armenians living in the country today.

ICC recently released a report on the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh (known as the Republic of Artsakh in Armenia), in late 2020.  Turkey and Azerbaijan destroyed churches and other religious sites, abused prisoners of war and hired known extremists, including members of the Islamic State, as mercenaries to help regain control over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Videos have surfaced showing Azeri soldiers beating and humiliating defenseless Armenian POWs. Azerbaijan refuses to disclose the identities of the prisoners, as well as the exact number of POWs it still holds. Dozens of Armenians still do not know the whereabouts of their family members who went off to fight in the war. If you would like to sign our petition calling on the European Court of Human Rights to investigate Azerbaijan’s treatment of its POWs and release their identities, click here.

Transcript:

In 1915, Turkey (The Ottoman Empire) slaughtered over one million Armenian Christians in what is now known as the Armenian Genocide. Turkey is still oppressing Armenians living in the country today.

Hagia Sophia, which was once an iconic cathedral in Istanbul, has once again been converted into a mosque.

Jeff King: If you had to sum up Turkey’s dealings with Armenia over time… I just look at it, I see different notes. There’s Islamic persecution, there’s Dhimmitude, there’s control. Basically slow and fast strangulation of a Christian nation. Does that sum it up or anything else you want to add to that?

Claire Evans: I think that’s exactly how the Church describes it, is suffocation. It’s something where within the country, Turkey has been slowly suffocating its Christian community since the genocide and denying every attempt to shine light on that throughout the entire time. But then we look at what they’re doing in places like Artsakh where it’s very obvious that they’re being aggressive and human rights abuses and violations, and they’re doing that all openly. So I often think if that’s what they’re doing openly, when they think and nobody’s watching, what are they doing in their own country where everything’s controlled and limited and nobody can see it? It’s sending a message. There’s still a few Armenians who live in Turkey and they were heavily, heavily abused, just verbally and harassed and threatened-

Jeff King: In this recent period or this conflict?

Claire Evans: Yeah. Not just in Turkey, worldwide. The Armenian community found themselves targeted by Turks who were living in the diaspora. That’s scary. If that’s what’s happening in other countries, countries where you’re supposed to be more free or countries that nobody’s paying attention to, then it’s got to be worse in the country who restricts all free speech.

Jeff King: There is a very clear memory of mine. I hadn’t been working downtown with ICC doing embassy. I hadn’t been working that long. I ran into some Turkish diplomats. I’m trying to remember what the event was, but it was on this issue. I think there were Armenian panelists and then you had the Turkish diplomats in the crowd. If the Armenians bring up this subject of the genocide, what happens? What do the Turkish people do?

Claire Evans: Oh, it’s all denial. It’s all denial. They say that’s the last stage of genocide, is continued denial. The problem is if you keep denying it, then you’ll never be able to address the problems that cause it. So it just becomes this cycle that goes on and on and on. But I think the extra context for it is if you deny a person their history, whether that’s the Christian history or a history of genocide, then you’re denying some part of their identity and you’re controlling it-

Jeff King: Which is just fine with them. They’re quite happy to do that. Yeah.

Claire Evans: It’s just fine. It also sets the stage for religious freedom violations. If a person can’t be whoever it is that they identify as, then it’s done. It’s controlled.

Jeff King: On the one hand, it’s like the Christian community is so small and for the most part, they’re not being killed or stabbed. It happens. But for the most part, so that’s not there. So it doesn’t always get the press in our world, in the persecution world, that it should. But you and I know, and others know, what the Christians experience there. Just go ahead and talk about that a little bit.

Claire Evans: In some ways, it’s almost worse to not be stabbed or bombed because then you’re stuck in your head. You’re stuck always thinking, “Well, is this person going to harass me today?” And not knowing what that’s going to be like. You can’t escape it. Armenian community is often called dirty dogs or rats. They’re very common derogatory terms. If you’re called that nonstop every day for the rest of your life, I mean, at some point-

Jeff King: If you’re dehumanized every day of your life, every hour-

Claire Evans: Yeah. At some point, you just want it to stop or to end. So you leave. That’s the easiest solution.

Jeff King: We are working right now trying to figure out how to help victims. We are going to be doing that shortly, but stay tuned, stick on the website and podcast. We will follow this up with more information to let you know what we are doing and how we are helping victims. Pray for your brothers and sisters and understand what is going on and tell others. It’s a persecution story and needs to be told. God bless, and we’ll be back next week. 

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