ΟΙΚΟΥΜΕΝΙΚΗ ΟΜΟΣΠΟΝΔΙΑ ΚΩΝΣΤΑΝΤΙΝΟΥΠΟΛΙΤΩΝ
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Προς: την Σύνταξη της ιστοσελίδας ΡΟΜΦΑΙΑ
03 Οκτωβρίου 2020
Έχοντας αναγνώσει το άρθρο σας με τίτλο « Σχόλιο για την προσφυγή του Αμερικής Ελπιδοφόρου στον ΟΗΕ» θεωρούμε αναγκαίο να επισημάνουμε ότι, δυστυχώς, αναδημοσιεύσατε αβασάνιστα ένα κείμενο το οποίο περιέχει λάθη, ανακρίβειες, μάλιστα δε και κακοήθεις αναφορές. Συγκεκριμένα:
(1) Η Οικουμενική Ομοσπονδία Κωνσταντινουπολιτών (Οι.Ομ.Κω.) δεν είναι επίσημο όργανο του Οικουμενικού Πατριαρχείου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως και δεν εκπροσωπεί επίσημα την Μητέρα Εκκλησία, με την οποία συνδέεται απλά με δεσμούς αφοσίωσης, βαθύτατου σεβασμού και αγάπης.
(2) Έχουν γίνει όχι μία μόνον, αλλά τρεις παρεμβάσεις, από πλευράς της Οικουμενικής Ομοσπονδίας Κωνσταντινουπολιτών, στο 45ο Συμβούλιο Δικαιωμάτων του Ανθρώπου του Ο.Η.Ε. (και όχι «Δικαστήριο Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων» του Ο.Η.Ε. όπως αναφέρετε), που συνήλθε την περίοδο 14/9-7/10/2020 στην Γενεύη. Επισυνάπτουμε τα εν λόγω κείμενα στην Αγγλική γλώσσα και παρακαλούμε την δημοσίευσή τους καθώς και την αναθεώρηση των όσων αναφέρονται στο άρθρο σας.
(3) Οι δύο παρεμβάσεις είναι γραπτές, όπως φαίνεται από τα επισυναπτόμενα. Η 3η , η προφορική, όπως πλήθος άλλων παρεμβάσεων αναρτήθηκε από την Προεδρία του Συμβουλίου στην ιστοσελίδα του ΟΗΕ επειδή δεν υπήρχε επαρκής χρόνος για την παρουσίασή της. Και όχι, όπως υπαινίσσεται το αναδημοσιευόμενο άρθρο, διότι η Οι.Ομ.Κω. «δεν κατέθεσε το κείμενο της προσφυγής, δήθεν λέγει ελλείψει χρόνου».
(4) Επισημαίνουμε, τέλος, ότι η χρησιμοποίηση στο εν λόγω άρθρο του όρου «Πατριαρχείο Κωνσταντινουπόλεως» αντί του καθιερωμένου και ακριβούς όρου «Οικουμενικό Πατριαρχείο Κωνσταντινουπόλεως» αποτελεί σοβαρότατο λάθος, αν βέβαια δεν πρόκειται περί ηθελημένης χρήσης η οποία εξυπηρετεί άλλους σκοπούς.
Παρουσιάζει ενδιαφέρον ότι η πηγή πληροφόρησης σας προέρχεται από ΜΚΟ με την επωνυμία «NGO Public Advocacy», η οποία ως μέλος της ECOSOC θα όφειλε να γνωρίζει τόσο τις διαδικασίες του ΟΗΕ, όσο και τους επίσημους τίτλους των παγκοσμίου βεληνεκούς και αναγνωρίσεως οργανισμών στους οποίους αναφέρεται.
Παρακαλούμε τις άμεσες ενέργειες σας.
Νικόλαος Ουζούνογλου Νικόλαος Αναγνωστόπουλος
Πρόεδρος Γενικός Γραμματέας
1η ΓΡΑΠΤΗ ΠΑΡΕΜΒΑΣΗ
Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans (EFC)
UN Human Rights Council
45th session - Geneva - 14 September 2020 to 06 October 2020
Threats to Inter-Religious and Inter-Civilization Harmony resulting from actions taken by the Republic of Turkey around the re-conversion of Museums -namely Hagia Sophia- to Mosques and the use of inflammatory rhetoric and propaganda conducive to a hostile environment for living communities
The Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans (EFC) is the worldwide federative body of the expatriated Greek-Orthodox Community of Istanbul. Most of the population (98%) of our Community is, contrary to the wishes of its members, presently living in various countries, away from their native land, Istanbul. This mass scale expatriation occurred as a result of the nationalist and discriminatory policies drawn up and implemented by the successive Governments of the Republic of Turkey during the period 1955-2002. The veracity of the facts which led to this flight has been acknowledged, on numerous occasions, by the present leadership of Turkey. During the past 10 years, EFC has submitted several proposals to the Government of Turkey stressing the clear need for implementation of effective and proportionate remedy and reparations measures in order to prevent the extinction of the Community still present in Istanbul, along the lines of the U.N. General Assembly Resolution 60/147.
The members of the small Community still remaining in Istanbul have suffered multiple serious human rights violations and abuses, including of their minority rights, and their further survival and existence depend on the predominance of a much needed atmosphere of tolerance and respect of religious and cultural differences.
Unfortunately, the recent conversion from museum to mosque of the Byzantine era (6th Century A.D.) built Hagia Sophia Church, a site inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, has been superseded by hostile slogans conducive to creating tensions between religions and civilizations. This inflammatory rhetoric was espoused, among others, by Turkish public officials. The widespread use of claims of the “right of sword and conquering” which was openly expressed - in the presence of the President of the Republic of Turkey - during the ceremonial conversion of Hagia Sophia by the President of Religious Affairs of Turkey Mr. Ali Erbaş, who delivered his inaugural speech keeping in his hand a sword, was very unbecoming. The President of the Nationalist Movement Party Mr. Devlet Bahceli, which supports the current Government of Turkey, openly claimed the “necessity of eliminating the remaining Byzantines”. Furthermore, according to press information verified by a question submitted by the leading opposition party (CHP), a flag of Taliban organization was seen during the above-mentioned inaugural ceremony
It is clear that the prevalence of such attitudes, reminding our Community of the era of persecutions it went through during the period 1955-2002, is highly alarming and runs contrary to the much needed –on a global scale- inter-religious and inter-civilizational mutual respect. This is especially true in a region has suffered a series of human tragedies, often caused by those exploiting and instrumentalizing religion as well as cultural heritage for their own political agendas. Furthermore, hate speech against Christianity was also used by a part of media inside Turkey, in view of the conversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque.
The Republic of Turkey is called to take all necessary measures to prevent such acts and refrain from any action or statement spurring inter-religious tensions and therefore endangering the living conditions and even the very existence of non-Muslim minorities.
2Η ΓΡΑΠΤΗ ΠΑΡΕΜΒΑΣΗ
Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans (EFC)
UN Human Rights Council
45th session - Geneva - 14 September 2020 to 06 October 2020
The Necessity of Scientific Conservation and Management of the World Heritage Monument of Hagia Sophia of Istanbul and other cultural heritage sites in Turkey for the respect, promotion and protection of the cultural rights of all.
World cultural heritage monuments constitute some of humanity's major achievements. They stand as irreplaceable masterpieces of humanity's varied civilizations and cultures both past and present. As such, they need to be protected and treasured; their value should be brought out and shared with the world - not hidden away.
This ideal is embodied in the 1972 UNESCO Convention “Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage”, by which states undertake the duty, among others, of "ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations” of monuments recognized as constituting part of the World Heritage”. Chief among the concerns mentioned in this document is the preservation of monuments’ authenticity. States therefore have an obligation to ensure that any modification to the monuments does not negatively impact the Outstanding Universal Value of inscribed sites on their territories including their integrity and/or authenticity. Therefore, any major change in the use of a World Heritage Monument, including its restoration, should be submitted to the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO for prior consideration and comments before any action is taken.
From a Human Rights standpoint, the importance of Cultural Heritage has been established on numerous occasions. The right of access to and enjoyment of cultural heritage has been recognized as part of international human rights law, finding its legal basis in the right for all to take part in cultural life without discrimination. In this vein, Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council have stressed that access to and enjoyment of cultural heritage are interdependent concepts – one implying the other. They convey an ability to, inter alia, know, understand, enter, visit, make use of, maintain, exchange and develop cultural heritage, as well as to benefit from the cultural heritage and creations of others, without political, religious, economic or physical encumbrances. Therefore, States should respect the free development of cultural heritage, having the duty not to destroy, damage or alter cultural heritage, at least not without the free, prior and informed consent of concerned communities.
Contrary to the above mentioned International Law, monuments named Hagia Sophia, originally built during the Byzantine era as Orthodox Churches and having operated for more than 50 years as museums, have been re-converted over the past years to mosques in the Republic of Turkey. This re-conversion does not seem to serve any religious or functional need, as all of them operate in areas where the numerous, and often historical, mosques already cover the needs of believers. On the contrary, justifications raised for this process of conversions were largely of a political nature, aimed chiefly at the secularist establishment of the Republic of Turkey.
This conversion process started with the 6th Century Hagia Sophia of Iznik (Nicaea), where the first and seventh Ecumenical Councils of the Christian Church took place (1st and 7th). It continued with the13th Century Trabzon Hagia Sophia, while two smaller “Hagia Sophia” in Eastern Thrace were also re-converted. Finally, the universally famous World Heritage Monument that is Hagia Sophia of Istanbul, was re-converted to a mosque by a Presidential Decree which followed a ruling of Turkish Council of State, founding its argumentation on Ottoman-era legislation. Numerous legal experts have stated the weak legal grounds on which this Court decision was taken, as the Presidential Decree establishing the Hagia Sophia of Istanbul as a museum had been in force for 86 years. Furthermore, all requests to overturn this 1934 presidential decree had consistently been dismissed in previous years.
By converting Museums into Mosques, the Republic of Turkey moves towards stripping these monuments of Universal Value of their Universal character. It chooses to exclude when the decision to turn them into museums was a move to include all humanity; It chooses to hide when the previous decision was to reveal. As stressed by human rights experts, these actions divide religious and cultural groups in Turkey and beyond, rather than uniting them.
The worrisome character of this conversion process is further highlighted by the fact that it is related to political debates on historical events that took place inside Turkey during the establishment of the secular regime in 1920-30’s. Furthermore, inflammatory statements regarding a so-called completion of the re-conquest of Istanbul, for the second time since 1453, are alarming, as they raise tensions in a world in dire need of reconciliation between world religions and civilizations.
As the worldwide federative body of the autochthonous Greek-Orthodox (Rum) minority of Istanbul, the Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans wants to raise the issue of the high necessity of the protection of the above-mentioned monuments as part of the worldwide cultural heritage, protecting them from the dangers to which their instrumentalization for political gains exposes them.
As a historic Christian community of Istanbul, we share special procedures mandate holders grave concern regarding about the rights of everyone to access and enjoy these monuments of cultural heritage, about inter-faith co-existence and secular spaces, and about the equality and safety of religious minorities, including Christians.
Moreover, we are convinced that monuments of such importance should be administered in a way ensuring that science and culture take precedence on political games. Their maintenance should be under the care of scientists and scholars of proven expertise, duly authorized through administrative processes guaranteeing the protection of cultural heritage under international law.
We call upon the Authorities of the Republic of Turkey o:
- Stop the conversion of museums of monuments built in Byzantine era such as the Church of the Holy Saviour of Chora (Kariye-Hora Museum), itself a World Heritage site, which incorporates unique 14th century mosaics and frescoes of unique value.
- ECUMENICAL FEDERATION OF CONSTANTINOPOLITANS
- The imperative necessity for the Republic of Turkey to actively support the Repatriation of the younger generation, descendants of the Greek-Orthodox Minority of Istanbul as the only measure to prevent the disappearance of this Autochthonous Community
- The severe violations of the human rights of the Greek-Orthodox Minority during the years 1923-2003 has caused this Community to be living today as an expatriate community to the extent of 98% of its population. The fundamental reasons of this mass scale expatriation has been the 65 years ago mass scale Pogrom of 6-7 September 1955 and the systematic deportations during the period 1964-66 while the discriminatory measures continued for decades. We have stated in detail during the last 8 years in numerous U.N. Conferences these violations of the past. Presently the Minority living in Istanbul are less than 1500 persons, most of them being of advanced age, and is facing the specter of complete annihilation.
- The only measure to prevent the disappearance of this historic Community is Turkey to actively support the proposals submitted by the EFC focusing on the repatriation of young people whose parents are descendants from Istanbul and in parallel to reinstitute all the rights of the Minority. The proposals of EFC include provision of scholarships for the young people to study in Universities, support for housing and establishing SME’s, employment in state agencies and various incentives for repatriation. The role of the Minority welfare foundations in this effort is essential. The prevention of elections during the last 8 years in the non-Muslim minority foundations has severely damaged their proper function in fulfilling their important role.
- The proposals submitted by EFC are aligned with the Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/147.
- Furthermore, we would like to state the fact the European Commission has rejected all proposals of EFC during the last 6 years, to support the repatriation of the young members of the Community.
- EFC stresses the urgent necessity of proposed measures for the survival of the Greek-Orthodox Community of Istanbul in the context of human rights framework.
- Thank you for your attention.
In an interview of H.E. R.T. Erdogan, President of Rep. of Turkey to nationwide STAR and NTV T.V. channels in 20 April 2018 stated: “In past years the number of Greek-Orthodox citizens in our Country was not small, wasn’t, they were ten thousand and even hundred thousands, but because of numerous wrongdoings against them in our Country it was pity that they were forced to go to Greece. We have also done mistakes, we must recognize these wrongdoings…”
 UN General Assembly Resolution 60/147, the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law
 https://undocs.org/A/HRC/17/38 para 58
 idem, para. 80 b)