ANCA, Armenian Church leaders to speak at ‘In Defense of Christians’ conference

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is joining this week with In Defense of Christians (IDC) and a broad array of faith-based and human rights coalition partners in seeking solutions to the challenges facing Christian communities in the Middle East and attaining justice for the genocide committed against Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians from 1915-1923.

The third annual IDC National Advocacy Convention, titled “Beyond Genocide: Preserving Christianity in the Middle East,” is cosponsored by the ANCA, Philos Project, and Institute for Global Engagement and supported by many other DC-based and grassroots organizations.

“Recognizing that the profound challenges facing Christians in the Middle East require strong coalitions and a coordinated American response, the ANCA is pleased, once again, to team up with In Defense of Christians to help realign U.S. foreign policy with the American people’s commitment to human rights and religious liberty,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

Armenian Church and ANCA leaders will be offering insights throughout the three-day program starting on Wednesday, September 7th, with remarks by Hamparian at the opening press conference, which will also feature insights by Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF); Robert Nicholson, Executive Director of the Philos Project; Alexis Moukarzel, former Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of the Holy Spirit in Kaslik, Lebanon; Andrew Doran, journalist and expert on religious persecution in the Middle East; and IDC Executive Director Kirsten Evans.

Wednesday evening, His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern U.S. will participate in an ecumenical prayer service for Christians in the Middle East at the historic Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Washington, DC.

Thursday’s day of Capitol Hill advocacy will be kicked off with a policy briefing by Raffi Karakashian, ANCA Government Affairs Director; Juliana Taimoorazy, founder and president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council; and Kristina Olney, IDC Director of Government Relations and Outreach – followed by Congressional office canvassing by conference participants.

In the afternoon, ANCA National Board Member Aida Dimejian will be offering remarks alongside a host of Senate and House members and organization leaders at the Congressional Visitor Center Auditorium.

On Friday, the ANCA Eastern Region’s Armen Sahakyan will be offering insights at a panel titled “Genocide and Persecution: Past and Present” alongside Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett; Andrew Walther, vice president for communications and strategic planning for the Knights of Columbus; and the IDC’s Kirsten Evans.

The complete schedule and listing of all speakers is available

Among the key policy issues advocated by the IDC conference participants is the Armenian Genocide Truth + Justice Resolution (H.Res.154) – which is now pending before Congress – calls on the President of the United States to work toward equitable, constructive, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey’s full acknowledgment of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity. The ANCA is strongly in support of congressional passage of H.Res.154.

The ANCA has worked closely with IDC and a coalition of over 100 organizations, including the Knights of Columbus, the International Religious Freedom Roundtable and the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church in a grassroots campaign to have Congress and the Obama Administration declare the slaughter that Christians and other minorities in the Middle East are facing a modern-day genocide.

Earlier this year, on March 15th, with a vote of 393 to 0, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously condemned as genocide the ongoing ISIL/Da’esh crimes against Christians – including Armenians and Assyrians – as well as Yezidis and other religious minorities in the Middle East by adopting H.Con.Res.75, spearheaded by Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).  Two days later, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry clearly and unequivocally characterized the ongoing ISIL / Da’esh attacks and killings of the Christians, Yezidis, and Shiite Muslims in the Middle East as genocide, with specific mention of the destruction of Armenian churches as part of the cultural destruction of these historic communities.  The Senate adopted a similar resolution (S.Res.340) on July 7th.

His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, joined with Christian leaders from throughout the Middle East at the inaugural IDC conference in 2014, offering a powerful call for unity in the face of the existential threat against historic Middle Eastern Christian communities.

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