December 7, 2015

Contact: AHEPA Headquarters
Phone: 202.232.6300
AHEPA Commends USCIRF's Statement on Halki Seminary

WASHINGTON, DC -- The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), a leading association for the nation's millions of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes, commends 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. Chairman Dr. George said:

"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, 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."
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Founded in 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia, on the principles that undergirded its fight for civil rights and against discrimination, bigotry, and hatred felt at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, AHEPA is the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes with more than 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, and Europe.  
AHEPA's mission is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, and Family and Individual Excellence through community service and volunteerism.   
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