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Order of St. Andrew Condemns Religious Freedom Violations in the northern Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle strongly condemns the interruption of Christmas Day Divine Liturgy at the church of Agios Synesios at Rizokarpaso, located in the northern Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, by so-called “police officers” of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime.
 
This deplorable action carried out on one of the most holy days for all Christians is a blatant violation of the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in particular, the religious freedoms of the Greek Orthodox Christians who continue to live in the northern occupied part of Cyprus.
 
Coupled with the policy of pillage, destruction and desecration of the cultural heritage of Cyprus that the occupation regime has been following since 1974, which has led to the destruction or desecration of more than 500 Greek Orthodox churches and chapels in the occupied areas of Cyprus and the illegal transfer of more than 60,000 ancient artifacts to third countries, the continuous violation of the religious freedoms of the enclaved Greek Cypriots is regrettably an unacceptable reality.  This latest action manifests complete and utter disrespect for the religious freedoms of the enclaved Greek Orthodox Christian Cypriots and violated in clear and unambiguous terms, amongst others, the Third Vienna Agreement of August 1975, which continues to be the only agreement providing for the treatment of Greek Cypriots living in the occupied areas of Cyprus, the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
 
The Order of Saint Andrew calls upon Turkey to fully respect the religious freedoms of the Greek Orthodox Christians who continue to live in the northern occupied part of Cyprus and urge the United States Government to condemn this unacceptable act and work towards truly safeguarding the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the religious freedoms, of the enclaved Orthodox Christians who reside there.