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Posts tagged ‘European Union’

Turkey & Religious Minorities

This is a very important and courageous development.

Turkish Government to Return Seized Property to Religious Minorities
By SEBNEM ARSU. Published: August 28, 2011. New York Times.

ANKARA, Turkey — The Turkish government said it would return hundreds of properties that were confiscated from religious minorities by the state or other parties over the years since 1936, and would pay compensation for properties that were seized and later sold.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the announcement on Sunday to representatives of more than 150 Christian and Jewish trusts gathered at a dinner he hosted in Istanbul to break the day’s Ramadan fast. The government decree to return the properties, bypassing nationalist opposition in Parliament, was issued late Saturday.

The European Union, which Turkey has applied to join, has pressed the country to ease or eliminate laws and policies that discriminate against non-Muslim religious groups, including restrictions on land ownership. Many of the properties, including schools, hospitals, orphanages and cemeteries, were seized after 1936 when trusts were called to list their assets, and in 1974 a separate ruling banned the groups from purchasing any new real estate.

Disputes over the groups’ properties have tied up Turkish and European courts for decades, and the European Court for Human Rights has ordered Turkey to pay compensation in several cases related to religious minority rights in recent years.

“Like everyone else, we also do know about the injustices that different religious groups have been subjected to because of their differences,” Mr. Erdogan said at the dinner, according to the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency. “Times that a citizen of ours would be oppressed due to his religion, ethnic origin or different way of life are over.”

Read complete article at NEW YORK TIMES

Syrian Attacks

AP Newsire – 8/25/11

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. demanded Thursday that Bashar Assad’s government in Syria stop brutalizing peaceful opponents and in particular criticized its “targeted, brutal attack” on the country’s most popular cartoonist.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had especially harsh words for the Assad regime regarding cartoonist Ali Ferzat, who is also a longtime human rights advocate, in a statement issued after the department had closed for the day.

“The regime’s thugs focused their attention on Ferzat’s hands, beating them furiously and breaking one of them — a clear message that he should stop drawing,” the statement said.

The statement came a week after President Barack Obama demanded explicitly that Assad resign because he had lost legitimacy as a ruler. That demand was in conjunction with similar moves by major U.S. allies such as Britain, France, Germany and the European Union.

In her statement, Nuland said: “Many other moderate activists who oppose violence have been jailed for speaking out against the regime, including Walid al-Buni, Nawaf Basheer, Georges Sabra, Mohammed Ghaliyoun and Abdullah al-Khalil. Some have been held incommunicado for months.

“While making empty promises about dialogue with the Syrian people, the Assad regime continues to carry out brutal attacks against peaceful Syrians trying to exercise their universal right to free expression,” Nuland continued. “We demand that the Assad regime immediately stop its campaign of terror through torture, illegal imprisonment and murder.”

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