The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has issued a special report in which it expresses concern over the deteriorating religious minority situation in Turkey, USCIRF commissioner Tony Perkins told the VOA Armenian Service.
He said they see anti-Semitism is on the rise in Turkey, especially during the pandemic, the Armenians also get the same accusations, and they are accused of COVID-19.
In the USCIRF special report on Turkey that was released on December 3, the Commission stressed that repression of religious minorities in the country is carried out if not with the direct participation of the Turkish authorities, then at least because of their neutrality on the matter. Moreover, the Turkish authorities leave the crimes against religious minorities in the country unpunished.
Commenting on this report, Perkins stressed that the Turkish authorities are primarily accountable for the deterioration of the situation of religious minorities in Turkey.
One Armenian church was demolished in Turkey this year, the Armenian cemetery in Van was completely destroyed, and these are forms of intimidation when important religious and cultural sites are destroyed, he added.
According to Perkins, religious minorities in Turkey, including members of the Armenian Apostolic Church, are increasingly restricted in their rights.
Recently, we are witnessing growing enmity towards religious minorities in Turkey; and if we look more closely, we can see that this trajectory is not going well at all, added Tony Perkins.
In its special report, the USCIRF advises the US Department of State to put Turkey on a special list, as its authorities tolerate gross violations of the rights of religious minorities in the country.