The AHEPAN - Spring 2016 - 21

CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY

AHEPA Commends U.S. Commission's Call to Reopen Halki
Seminary, Applauds Congressional Action
AHEPA commended the United States Commission on
International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for issuing a statement that calls on the Turkish government to reopen the
Greek Orthodox Theological School of Halki, announced
Supreme President John W. Galanis.
In the November 24, 2015 statement, Dr. Robert P. George,
chairman, USCIRF, conveyed the ramifications of the seminary's closure for 44 years upon the Greek Orthodox community. He added Turkey's government is failing to uphold its
international obligations.
"Without the seminary, the Greek Orthodox community cannot educate in Turkey the next generation of clergy to lead their
congregants in worship, observance, and practice. The failure
to reopen the Halki seminary is a stark example of the Turkish
government's failure to uphold its international obligations to
protect and promote the freedom of religion or belief."
Supreme President Galanis said, "We enthusiastically
applaud and commend the Commission's statement. Obviously,
we concur unequivocally with the Commission's call for the
Turkish government to reopen the Greek Orthodox Theological
School of Halki. We also share the Commission's concern about
the recent curtailment of other human rights in Turkey, including freedoms of the press, expression, and assembly."
Galanis added, "AHEPA is pleased that in the Commission's
2015 Annual Report, released in April, that the Commission
placed Turkey in its Tier 2 category because of Turkey's
restrictions on freedom of religion or belief. It is in the best
interest of the United States for the U.S. government to adopt
and implement all of the policy recommendations set-forth by
the Commission in its 2015 report on Turkey."

Congressional Action on Halki Seminary
Seven key U.S. representatives led by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes
(D-MD),
member, Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues,
wrote to President
Barack Obama on the
occasion of Religious
Freedom Day to urge
the administration
to continue to press
the Turkish government to reopen
Halki Seminary. In
addition to Rep.
Sarbanes, signatories on the January
16, 2016 bipartisan-supported
letter to President
Obama included:
U.S. Reps. Gus
Bilirakis (R-FL)
and
Carolyn
Maloney (D-NY), co-chairs, Congressional Caucus on Hellenic
Issues; U.S. Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Juan Vargas (D-CA),
co-chairs, Congressional International Religious Freedom Caucus;
and U.S. Reps. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) and James P. McGovern (D-MA),
co-chairs, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

"We sincerely thank these legislators for keeping the
issue of the closure of Halki Seminary on the agenda of the
Obama Administration and echo their call for the administration to press the Turkish government to reopen the
seminary," Supreme President Galanis said.

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