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100th Anniversary, Centennial, Churches, Commemoration, Recognition, Turkey

Catholicosate of Cilicia Leaders and Lawyers Outline Lawsuit Seeking Turkey’s Return of Historic Christian Site

(L to R) Aram Hamparian, Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Payam Akhavan, Teny Pirri-Simonian, and Cem Sofuoglu

WASHINGTON—Leaders and lawyers representing the Catholicosate of Cilicia held a press conference on April 29 at the National Press Club to discuss their lawsuit against the Turkish Government seeking the return of the historic seat of the Catholicosate, located in Sis (currently Kozan), one-time capital of Cilician Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The press conference featured remarks by Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern United States; Teny Pirri-Simonian, senior advisor to the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia; Payam Akhavan, former UN prosecutor at the Hague and lead international counsel in this case; and Cem Sofuoglu, Turkish human rights lawyer and local counsel. They were joined by ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, who shared the Armenian American community’s support for the just legal claims of the Armenian Church and, more broadly, spoke to the efforts of Armenians worldwide to secure international justice for the Armenian Genocide.

Video from the press conference, courtesy of Ara Nahapetian:

In his remarks, Archbishop Choloyan reviewed the spiritual history of the Sis Catholicosate, noting the central role it played in Armenian religious life until the Armenian Genocide of 1915. “We are asking for the return of our land in order to worship there—as we did for a 1,000 years. I know that the land is ours,” said the Archbishop.

In her comments, Pirri-Simonian reviewed the history of this legal case, highlighting the leadership of His Holiness Aram I in convening conferences and consulting with international legal experts to prepare a compelling legal case for the return of the Sis Catholicosate. She underscored His Holiness Aram I’s commitment to convey “more than memory” to coming generations, by securing—in very concrete ways—the return of the Armenian nation’s spiritual heritage.

Lead attorney Akhavan emphasized that: “This case really is about translating the demand for justice into a very concrete case—and that case is the return to the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia of its historical seat in present day Kozan.” He added that: “It is a concrete demand for the return of property based on the rights of the Catholicosate, the legal personality of which was never extinguished, and it is about the right of religious worship. As someone who is not Armenian but who stands in solidarity with the struggle of the Armenians for justice, this is a remarkable story of hope; it is a remarkable story of the resilience of the human spirit 100 years after these abominable acts that there is still the hope to return.”

Click Here For Full Article: The Armenian Weekly



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