The Cilicia Catholicosate in Antelias, Lebanon, one of the two major churches of the Armenian Apostolic Church, will officially demand the return its properties in Sis (Kozan)
EMRE CAN DAĞLIOĞLU
According to the statement made by Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, Aram I, at the V. Armenia-Diaspora Congress, the Catholicosate will apply to the Constitutional Court in Turkey for the return of its properties in Sis, where its centre was located from 1293 to 1930. The necessary legal steps are reportedly being taken in Turkey in the meantime.
‘We will demand our rights’
In the event of a negative outcome in Turkey, Aram I stated that they would immediately apply to the European Court of Human Rights, and added, “If we win the case, the pride and victory will belong to our nation and our Church. And even if we lose, it will still be our victory, because in defending our case we will have shown the perpetrators and the international public that the Armenian nation, regardless of the many years that have passed since the Genocide, continues to stand up for its rights”.
Aram I went onto state that the Armenian Cause had to shift its focus from the recognition of the Armenian Genocide to the legal field, and that they were ready to commemorate the Genocide on its 100th anniversary with the highest responsibility. A statement made by the Echmiadzin, the centre of the Apostolic Church in Armenia, explained that the legal bid of the Cilicia Catholicosate would not be appraised within the scope of the 100th anniversary program, but that the Catholicosate would be supported in its bid.
From 1293 to 1921
The existence of the Catholicosate in Turkey, that moved from Hromgla (present day Rumkale, Urfa) to Sis in 1293, physically ended when the last Catholicos in Sis, Sahak II, fled to Syria with the remaining small congregation to Syria in 1921, following the massacre of the great majority of Cilician Armenians during the 1915 Armenian Genocide. With a mass conducted by Sahak II on 12 October 1930 at the present day church in Antelias that served as an Armenian Orphanage from 1922 to 1928, the Cilicia Catholicosate officially moved to Lebanon. The Saint Sophia Monastery, a magnificent building and the centre of the Catholicosate in Sis, and according to witness accounts and photographs of the town from the early 20th century, was demolished in 1921.