Benjamin Rinaker

Political Officer in U.S. Embassy in GeorgiaRinaker

Mr. Rinaker is the Political Officer in U.S. Embassy in Georgia. Since February 2010 he has been serving the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer, first in U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia in a position of a Spanish-Speaking Consular Officer in 2010-2012, and since June 2013 as a Political Officer in U.S. Embassy in Georgia.

In 2009, Mr. Rinaker received Master’s in International Relations and Economics from Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, in 2003 he received Bachelor’s in Political Science and Spanish from Northwestern University.

In 2005-2007 he worked for the Office of U.S. Senator E. Benjamin Nelson as Acting Legislative Assistant.

Release

On February 9, 2014 the “Hayartun” Educational, Cultural and Youth Center hosted a meeting of Georgian Armenian community with Benjamin Rinaker, Political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Georgia.

Mr. Rinaker mentioned that during the last 36 years the US Department of State every year presented International Religious Freedom Report and Human Rights Report to the Congress, and he was the editor of chapter about Georgia of that reports.

Referring to 2012 Human Rights Report on Georgia (the latest published reports), torture and abuse of detainees, lack of judicial independence and impediments to exercise freedom of assembly, particularly for members of the political opposition were the main issues. Therewith, xenophobic statements, inadequate representation of ethnic minorities in a public service and political parties, lack of Georgian-language skills as one of the main impediments to integration for the country’s ethnic minorities, education problems such as lack of textbooks, professionally translated into ethnic minority languages, as well as lack of high-level Georgian-language courses specifically for students from minority areas were noted in the 2012 Human Rights Report on Georgia.

As concerns International Religious Freedom Report, the US Department of State stressed, that over the specified period in Georgia abuse coming from members of the public, discrimination, interference with religious rituals, physical abuse and vandalism occurred. At the same time systemic issues, such as restitution and preservation of property, which had belonged to religious minorities had place. Restitution of property that had been confiscated in the Soviet Period remained controversial issue for religious minorities. The property of the Armenian Diocese was implied here.

A representative of the Georgian Armenian community Aramais Mikaelyan inquired about the issue of Armenian Genocide recognition by the United States, as well as recognition of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) independence by the example of recognition of Kosovo independence. Mr. Rinaker responded that those issues were far beyond his competence, but he would inform relevant people in Washington, stressing that such kind of issues should be solved at very high level.

Another community representative Arlen Movsesyan mentioned, that in the beginning of the 20th century there had been 27 Armenian churches in Tbilisi, and only two remained these days. What fate befell those 25 churches? Actually, it is possible to take birth and baptismal certificates of ancestors from the archives, were it is marked that they were baptized in a certain church. Thus, on the one hand the State recognizes that the church is Armenian, on the other hand says that the church is disputable.

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