In a statement issued Wednesday, Representative Adam Schiff applauded the lawsuit filed by the Great House of Cilicia in the Turkish Constitutional Court to regain ownership of the historic headquarters of the Church, which includes the Catholicosate, the monastery and cathedral of St. Sophia, a major Armenian Christian holy site located in the Sis (currently Kozan), in south-central Turkey.
“I applaud the lawsuit filed in Turkish court to regain ownership of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilcia which was confiscated during the Armenian Genocide,” said Schiff. “This ancient and sacred site must be returned to its rightful owners nearly a century after it was pillaged by the Ottoman Empire. Armenians are right to pursue all legal avenues to obtain justice and to seek the return of what is rightfully theirs.”
This site was confiscated by the Turkish Government following the Genocide of 1915 in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed or deported by the Ottoman Empire.
Schiff Statement on Genocide Centennial
On April 24, Schiff issued the following statement on the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
“One hundred years ago, the Ottoman Empire attempted to annihilate an entire race in the first genocide of the last century. When it was over, 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children lay dead and many thousands of others barely survived. Despite a brutal campaign of massacres, forced death marches, lootings and rape, the Young Turks failed to destroy the Armenian people as evidenced by the vibrant diaspora and Armenian nation.
“When this heinous acts crime was committed, an entirely new word had to be invented to describe it – genocide. The author of the term, Holocaust survivor Raphael Lemkin, specifically cited the campaign of murder against the Armenians as an example of what genocide was meant to describe.
“The horrors of the genocide have been compounded by decades of denial by the Turkish government, which continues to fight the truth to this day. The United States has become complicit in this denial by failing to recognize the genocide for decades – and I was deeply disappointed by President Obama’s refusal to use the word ‘genocide’ in his statement today. If not this President, who spoke so eloquently and passionately about recognition in the past, whom? If not after one hundred years, when?
“The United States must join the world community – as it has in speaking out against other atrocities and in confronting painful chapters of our own past – in calling the Armenian Genocide a genocide. The time for silence is over.”