ANTELIAS, Lebanon (Armenian Weekly)—Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia announced on Monday that the Cilician Catholicosate will be submitting the legal case for the return of the Sis Catholicosate to the European Court of Human Rights on December 6.
“Tomorrow, the sixth of December will be an important day for the Armenian people in general and the Armenian church in particular,” Catholicos Aram I announced in a live video address from the current seat of the Catholicosate in Antelias, Lebanon.
The Catholicos said that the decision was made after Turkey’s constitutional court denied the request of the Catholicosate.
“This is the first legal action taken against Turkey after the Armenian Genocide of 1915. This legal action is the result of a long and serious reflection, consultation, and study, and is based on the provisions of international law, including the decisions of the Lausanne Conference pertaining to the minorities living within the boundaries of the Republic of Turkey,” Catholicos Aram said in his December 5 address.
The Catholicos first announced that the Cilician See was preparing to initiate legal claims against Turkey to regain ownership of the historic headquarters of the Catholicosate of Sis back in September 2014.
On April 28, 2015, the Catholicosate of Cilicia submitted a brief to the Constitutional Court in Turkey requesting the return of its historic spiritual center in Sis.
The Catholicosate’s St. Sophia church and monastery, and their surrounding lands, are located in the city of Kozan, in the Adana Province of the present-day Republic of Turkey. The headquarters, a center of Armenian religious life for more than seven centuries, was confiscated by the Turkish Government during the Armenian Genocide.
Below is the Aram I’s English address as transcribed by the Armenian Weekly.
Tomorrow, the sixth of December, will be an important day for the Armenian people in general and the Armenian church in particular.
The lawsuit demanding the return of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia in Sis will be formally submitted to the European Court of Human Rights. In fact, this is the first legal action taken against Turkey after the Armenian Genocide of 1915. This legal action is the result of a long and serious reflection, consultation, and study, and is based on the provisions of international law, including the decisions of the Lausanne Conference pertaining to the minorities living within the boundaries of the Republic of Turkey.
This is a very important action—legal action—taken by the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia. In fact, for a hundred years, we laid the emphasis in our continuous efforts, within the framework of the Armenian cause, on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. I believe that this is the time that we move from the stage of recognition to reparation, of course, without undermining the pivotal importance of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
I do believe that this is the high time, and, in fact, our legitimate right and sacred obligation, to claim the restoration of the ownership of the centuries old seat of the Catholicoasate in Sis. We should not forget and the international community should know that besides the one and a half million victims of the Armenian Genocide, thousands of Armenian churches, monasteries, community and church properties, including the individual properties, were confiscated by the Turkish authorities. Furthermore, 48 hours were given to the Catholicos Sahak of Cilicia to leave the premises of the Catholicosate with his parishes.
These are not fictions; they are facts of history. And we never forget these painful experiences of our people a hundred years ago. And it goes without saying, that forceful confiscation of properties is against international law.
Tomorrow, in Brussels, a press conference will take place with the participation of four members of our legal team. And through this press conference, our representatives will explain the various stages and dimensions, and expectations pertaining to this lawsuit.
Dear fellow Armenians,
The Armenian cause is the case of justice. It is the cause of violations of human rights. It is the cause of our people. We never forget the Armenian Genocide.
Recognition and reparation: this is our clear and firm position as a people and a church.
Therefore, it is my firm expectation that our people will continue to support all actions, initiatives, and programs that are aimed at the restoration of justice.
Justice—we want justice from the international community. That is the clear and firm position of our people.
May God bless you all.