By Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The
Each passing day brings new revelations of the Obama administration’s shameful schemes to cover up Turkish misconduct.
The latest scandal involves the State Department’s covert attempt to alter the contents of a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), condemning the Turkish government’s violations of the religious rights of Christian minorities. USCIRF is an independent bipartisan federal agency established by the U.S. Congress to make “recommendations unburdened by foreign policy considerations other than the defense of religious freedom,” according to a Commission member.
The Commission issued a lengthy report on March 20, outlining in great detail “the Turkish government’s systematic and egregious limitations on the freedom of religion or belief that affect all religious communities in
The report recommended that the U.S. government designate Turkey as one of the world’s 16 worst violators of religious freedom, along with Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
The Commission’s recommendation sharply downgraded
As expected, Turkish officials resorted to their usual disparaging tactics, rejecting the Commission’s findings. Far more troubling were the insidious actions of turkophiles in the State Department. Nina Shea, one of the nine USCIRF commissioners, wrote an alarming article revealing how the Obama administration quietly pressured the commission to soften its condemnation of
Ms. Shea disclosed to the National Review, a major national publication, that Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Michael Posner had forced one of the commissioners to change his position in
It was later revealed that Don Argue, President of Northwest University in
The Turkish Foreign Ministry, reacting sharply to the Commission’s critical designation of
Regrettably, a State Dept. spokesperson persisted in covering up
EurasiaNet.org: “the Department does not support
The Commission’s report included a long list of grave charges, accusing the Turkish government of:
— imposing “burdensome regulations,” denying “full legal status to religious groups, [and] violating the religious freedom rights of all religious communities.”
— interfering with “minority religious communities’ affairs; societal discrimination and occasional violence against religious minorities; limitations on religious dress; and anti-Semitism in Turkish society and media.”
— denying “non-Muslim communities the rights to train clergy, offer religious education, and own and maintain places of worship.”
— continuing longstanding policies that “threaten the survivability and viability of minority religious communities in
— restricting the religious freedom of “the Greek, Armenian, and
The report described in great detail the restrictions imposed on the Armenian community, including the Turkish government’s prohibition of training new clergy, and its interference “in the selection process of the Armenian Patriarchate’s religious leadership.”
The Commission recommended that the
Ironically, after meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in South Korea on March 26, Pres. Obama told the media: “I congratulated the Prime Minister on the efforts that he has made within Turkey to protect religious minorities!” It is shameful that unscrupulous