Washington, DC – His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, met with over a dozen Members of Congress last week on issues of concern to the Armenian faithful, including the moral imperative of America adopting a principled stand on the Armenian Genocide and against all instances genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The Prelate discussed the state of the Armenian Church in the Eastern United States and reminded Members of the historic repression of minorities under Ottoman rule, culminating in the genocide of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians from 1915-1923. He noted that, following the Genocide, many Armenians found a safe haven on U.S. shores, and that their descendents today comprise a large portion of Armenian parishes throughout the country.
His Eminence went on to explain that discrimination against the Armenian Church and the remaining Armenian community living in Turkey continues, citing the Article 301 restrictions against free speech regarding the Armenian Genocide, amongst a number of other repressive laws. He also discussed the destruction of Armenian churches and cultural icons in present day Turkey and Azerbaijan, citing the lack of a meaningful U.S. protest of Azerbaijan’s decimation of the 1,300 year-old Armenian cemetery in Julfa, Nakhichevan. His Eminence and the ANCA delegation noted that, despite several requests, the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan has yet to investigate the matter or even to visit the site.
Through the course of the day, His Eminence met with Representatives Albio Sires (D-NJ), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Jerold Nadler (D-NY), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John Larson (D-CT), George Radanovich (R-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), James Langevin (D-RI). The delegation also met with the offices of Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL).
Accompanying His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan during his November 15h Capitol Hill meetings were Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, pastor of Soorp Khatch Armenian Church of Bethesda, Maryland; Onnik Petrossian, ANCA National Board member; Kate Nahapetian, ANCA Government Affairs Director; and, Raffi Karakashian, ANCA Legislative Affairs Director.
His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan is a graduate of the Princeton Theological Seminary, receiving dual masters degrees in education and church history. An accomplished educator, he has collaborated with clergy colleagues in the publication of religious textbooks for grades 1 to 10 and prepared five volumes of “sharagans” (hymns) of the Armenian Church. Prior to his service in the Eastern United States, His Eminence has served as Prelate in Kuwait and the Arab Emirates, in addition to a myriad of other postings. The Prelacy of the Eastern United States serves Armenian Apostolic parishes spanning from the Eastern seaboard to throughout Midwest and Southern United States.