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Top court rules rights violation in governor’s interference in Armenian patriarchal election

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Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that there was a violation of the freedom of religion in the interference by the İstanbul Governor’s Office in the Armenian Patriarchate election in March 2017 by sending a notice stating that it was “legally impossible” to start the electoral process, the Birgün daily reported on Wednesday.

 The Turkish government appointed Aram Ateşyan as the acting patriarch of the Armenian Patriarchate in Turkey in 2010 after Mesrob II Mutafyan, the Armenian patriarch in İstanbul and the spiritual leader of Turkey’s Armenians, fell ill. The patriarchate informed the Interior Ministry that an election would be held to elect the new patriarch in March 2017; however, the İstanbul Governor’s Office told the patriarchate that the election process had to be halted. Following this, the patriarchate petitioned the Constitutional Court, saying that there was a violation of the freedom of religion in the interference from the governor’s office.

The court ruled that the intervention from the governor’s office was not compatible with the requirements of a democratic state that respects freedom of religion.

In the meantime, Mutafyan died at the age of 63 in March 2019. The Armenian community in Turkey has yet to elect a new patriarch.

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