An alliance for change | Persecution
This story originally appeared in the April issue of ICC’s Persecution magazine.
04/26/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – As you have read, the Turkish government poses a serious threat to Christians. Not only has he attempted to eradicate Christianity from within its borders, but Erdogan’s broader vision of a re-creation of the Turkish Empire at the expense of Christians extends beyond its borders. The current Turkish regime is a major obstacle that Western Christians must overcome if they are to preserve Christianity in the land where the first followers of Jesus once walked.
The question now becomes, what can we do about it?
The United States has always been a defender of human rights and is deeply committed to the promotion of international religious freedom. As a global superpower, the United States is also positioned to be able to promote these values and influence those who violate human rights better than anyone else in the world.
ICC’s Advocacy Department leverages the influence of the United States to influence change in countries with high levels of persecution. When a member of Congress, the Administration, or even an American NGO like ICC calls on a country to violate religious freedom, the abusive government often listens.
For Turkey, this influence is in fact reinforced. Turkey is an ally of the United States and another member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO is an alliance of collective defense, that is to say that its members undertake to defend each other in the event of an attack by a member, codified in article 5 of its charter.
For example, the only time Article 5 has been invoked in history was by President George W. Bush, following the attacks of September 11, 2001. In response, US NATO allies , namely Canada, much of Europe, and of course Turkey, contributed to the coalition that led the counterattack against Al Qaeda forces.
Apart from Article 5, NATO members also exchange military equipment on an ongoing basis and conduct joint military exercises. NATO members are even sharing intelligence, the drawbacks of which came to light last year when US drone footage was reportedly used by Turkish forces to bomb Christian villages in northern Iraq.
Due to the nature of NATO’s structure, the United States can use this alliance to its advantage by asserting that it will not undertake military assistance to Turkey if it decides to call on the allies to NATO to do so. It would underscore to the world that the United States would not send American troops to fight for a country that has consistently demonstrated its disregard for human rights and religious freedom.
Advocacy like this starts from scratch: As more Americans voice outrage over the treatment of Christians in the Middle East, members of Congress will pay attention and start making real policy changes who can stop Turkey’s transgressions. In this way, Americans have the ability to help Christians stifled by Erdogan’s government, simply by contacting their representative and senators to tell them about these issues and the Christians who are suffering there.
Together, Americans have the ability to be a voice for the voiceless and to protect Christianity in its homeland. One tangible way to help Armenian believers is to sign our petition to bring justice to Abused Armenian POWs. These prisoners of war were captured and held hostage by Azerbaijan, a predominantly Muslim country, with the help of Turkey.
You can read more about this situation and sign the petition here.