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ANC International, Lemkin Institute Step Up Calls for Protection of Jerusalem Armenians’ Rights

After Israeli police brutally assaulted Armenians in an attempt to evict them from the “Cows’ Garden” in the Jerusalem Armenian Patriarchate compound last week, the ANC International and the Lemkin Institute stepped up calls to protect the rights of the Jerusalem Armenian community.


“We are following with concern the steps taken by the Israeli police which violate the rights of the Jerusalem Armenian community and of the Armenian Patriarchate in the Armenian Quarter of Old Jerusalem. With these steps, the Israeli police are supporting the violence of the armed settlers and the employees of the other side of the fraudulently signed and problematic contract, violating the relevant international and local laws,” said a statement issued by ANC International.


“The violence and the complicity of the Israeli police must stop. The government of Israel must respect the rights of the Armenian Patriarchate and the Armenian community of Jerusalem with a clear stance and definite steps,” the ANC International said and reiterated its demand that “the settlement of the issue must be done exclusively on the basis of local and international laws, without the use of force or the threat of force.”


“The issue of Armenian rights in Jerusalem concerns all Armenians, therefore, any attempt to violate those rights is subject to the adequate reaction of all Armenians,” added the statement.


“The Armenian National Committee – International continues to support with all its capabilities — and in cooperation with the global network of Armenian Tahd — the Armenian community of Jerusalem and the Armenian Patriarchate to protect their thousand-year-old rights,” the statement said.


The Lemkin Institute, in a follow up to a statement issued earlier this year, calls for the protection of Armenian land and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, condemning last week’s assault, by Israeli police, of Armenian community members.


“This recent assault follows the Israeli state’s repeated attempts to evict indigenous Armenians from the Quarter. Amid the ongoing provocations by Azerbaijan against the Republic of Armenia in the South Caucasus, this attack represents another effort to compromise Armenian autonomy and sovereignty. The disturbing level of Armenophobia present in genocidal regimes from Azerbaijan to Israel is alarming and places Armenians in a state of constant peril,” the Lemkin Institute said.


“The Armenian community in Jerusalem, specifically the Patriarchate, acts as a crucial custodian of Christian holy sites in the city, representing both Christian and Armenian culture in Jerusalem. Attempts to buy land at the heart of the Quarter mirror a past scandal involving the Greek Orthodox Church, in which the Church sold two Palestinian-run hotels to foreign companies acting as a front for Jewish settlers. The sale generated uproar and concern around the globe, resulting in the ousting of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Irenaios I,” it added.


The Institute highlighted that the 1,600-year-old Armenian community residing in the historic Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem has been embroiled in a tense standoff against armed settlers since last summer. The conflict escalated following the revelation that the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem had struck a previously undisclosed land lease deal with Xana Gardens, a real estate company allegedly associated with settler interests, to develop a luxury hotel in the “Cows’ Garden” area, which encompasses crucial parts of the Armenian Quarter. The community, already grappling with a significant decline in population over the years, reacted with outrage upon learning about the details of the deal.


“Wednesday’s assault took place at 11am with an incursion by Israeli police and settlers into the Cows’ Garden. No permits or court orders were shown. Subsequently, there were illegal evictions and damage inflicted on Armenian Patriarchate assets, as well as attacks targeting religious figures and native Armenians. Assaf Harel was the commanding officer overseeing the eviction,” the Lemkinm Institute said.


“The Armenian community, deeply rooted in the Old City for centuries, sees the attempted land takeover as an existential threat to its cultural heritage and identity. Residents fear that losing control over the Cows’ Garden area would jeopardize their homes and undermine the historical significance of the Armenian Quarter, which has served as a refuge for Armenians for centuries,” the statement added.


“The Armenian community’s determination to safeguard its land and heritage has garnered widespread local and international support. In response to ongoing demolition attempts and intimidation tactics by Xana Gardens and its associates, the Armenian residents have demonstrated remarkable resilience and solidarity while organizing protests, maintaining a constant presence in the disputed area, and refusing to back down despite facing arrests and threats from Israeli authorities and settlers,” the institute explained.


“The continued effort to dispossess the Armenian community from their ancestral and historic lands in Jerusalem is fueled by the same eliminationist and settler-colonial process we see throughout the West Bank. The Lemkin Institute calls on Israeli courts to immediately invalidate any deal between the Armenian Patriarchate and Xana Gardens,” the Lemkin Institute emphasized.


“Further, we demand the Israeli authorities respect the minority rights of Armenians and Christians throughout Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Israel. Whether the targets are Palestinian Muslims or Armenian Christians, Israel must cease all efforts to expand Jewish settlements at the expense of non-Jews and commit to the protection of all peoples and faiths throughout the region,” the statement concluded.


 

Asbarez, 2024

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