Is Ben Affleck Crusading for Turkey?

Actor Ben Affleck featured during the Turkish Airlines commercial. (Source: Turkish Airlines)
Actor Ben Affleck featured during the Turkish Airlines commercial. (Source: Turkish Airlines)

Actor Ben Affleck featured in the Turkish Airlines commercial during Super Bowl 50. (Source: Turkish Airlines)

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

At the conclusion of Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, CBS aired a commercial for Turkish Airlines featuring Academy Award-winning actor Ben Affleck as its new spokesperson. This is a surprising choice for the actor who has been a staunch advocate for human rights around the world.

Asbarez readers will recall the community-wide anger toward Los Angeles Lakers front man Kobe Bryant who had signed a multi-million dollar deal with Turkish Airlines, arguing that such a high-profile celebrity, who is adored by young people, should not be supporting a company with ties to a genocidal regime.

The difference this time is that Affleck’s views on human rights issues have been widely publicized, so the question is whether he chose to ignore the abhorrent human rights, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where mass killings have been commonplace.

In fact, Affleck has testified before Congress and urged US intervention in Congo to end the mass killings there. In 2010 he founded the non-profit Eastern Congo Initiative, which, according to its website, “is an advocacy and grant-making initiative wholly focused on working with and for the people of eastern Congo.”

One would assume that Affleck’s advocacy against mass killings isn’t Congo-centric, but comes from an understanding that mass killings of any kind are a brutal violation of human rights.

And Turkey is one of the biggest violators of human rights today with its campaign of brutality against its own Kurdish citizens today and intolerance toward any kind of dissent, which manifested recently in the mass arrest of Turkish academicians who had signed a petition denouncing Ankara’s policy toward the Kurds. The most obvious example of mass killings, of course, is the Armenian Genocide, which Turkey continues to deny to this day.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who recently praised Hitler as a great leader, lashed out at the academicians, among them Noam Chomsky, for supporting those in Turkey who dared to speak out against their government’s policy in Turkey.

So Affleck, who will be appearing in the upcoming “Batman vs. Superman” as the famous caped crusader, must have had a change of conscience when he opted to accept money from Turkish Airlines to become its celebrity spokesperson. Turkish Airlines is Turkey’s national carrier with the same government that is committing large scale human rights violations against its own citizens–and signing Affleck’s checks–owning a governing stake in the company.

And then there is Turkey’s affinity toward the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh. For years Turkey’s porous border has served as a transit route for ISIS and other Islamist militants crossing over to Syria, with official Ankara turning a blind eye and escalating the international conflict, which today has global ramifications. This, coupled with Turkey’s financial support of ISIS through the purchase of oil usurped by the militant group, should have sounded the alarm for Affleck to rethink his decision to promote a country, whose government has blood on its hands.

One wonders, how many dollars does it take for protecting and advancing human rights to not be a guiding principle for a person?

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18 Comments

  1. Original Armenian said:

    Call me out of touch, but I have never ever watched a single movie of his. I’ll have to do a wiki search to see who this bozo is?

  2. suren said:

    we should mount a boycott of the batman/superman movie…i thought it was bad enough that bryant did it, and really there were no protests outside the games, instead, people continued to go and cheer for him…

  3. Armen said:

    Actors are nothing more than meatbags that regurgitate whatever schlock you give them for money. On they side they may claim to care about this or that but at the end of they day they’re all boze.

  4. A friend said:

    Hello Ara,

    I totally understand your anger towards the current government of Turkey. But you should ask yourself, what is the point of nurturing animosity towards a nation or a certain ethnicity? Should we all punish Turkish people because of their governments’ choices. If so, a Jewish person should not let a German be alive, not let a German do business anywhere in the world by constantly boycotting their products. Also, if the community is very sensitive about genocide and human rights, why do they mostly prefer to live in United States or France, which are famous for their wild massacres towards American Indians and Algerians. Let me tell you the answer, it is not about human rights or standing against a country that violates human rights. It is all about the feeling of “revenge” towards Turkey, which is a useless vicious cycle with no end.

    Ask yourself again, what is next? Will pressuring people who do business with Turks make anything better for Armenians? Let me tell you, this will make things worse. Pumping hatred to both sides will only make these two nations more distant. As of now, both governments do their best to block each other’s prosperity as much as they can and will keep doing (for instance, Turkey keeps its embargo on Armenia) This only hurts the citizens of these countries. Instead of the region cherishing more trade, all the Armenian people I met are trying to leave Armenia for a better life or a better job. If one is smart, they would spend their effort for their countries’ prosperity, not for pumping hatred, which will eventually cause more friction and wars in the region. To sum, I find your approach very unfortunate and outdated.

    Everyday, I am doing my best to overcome my Armenian friends’ prejudices hoping that we can become best friends, brothers and sisters as it once was in the old days. We eat the same thing, we enjoy similar things and dance to the same song. Please do not let politics separate us.

    Spread love and friendship, not hatred.

    Best
    E.

    • danoog said:

      Big Difference. The Germans take responsibility for the Holocaust and are still paying reparations to the Jews for their sins. I don’t know about you, but I’m still waiting for my check from the Turks.

      • Arman said:

        Don’t forget that Jews were not the only victims of Hitler’s atrocities. Many millions of Slavs were killed, but who will give them reparations? Only a powerfully organized political lobbying and pressure has made Germany pay Jews. Serbs, Russians, Poles, Czechoslovaks and Ukranians have not been given any compensation by Germany.

    • Norin said:

      Nice thoughts “E”, but let’s get back to reality. Germany has on its own volition admitted to the crimes of the Hollocaust. Germany has since agreed to continue to pay reparation for the lives lost as a result of its state sponsored actions during WW 2 to the tune of more 100 BILLION dollars paid thus far to victims of the Holocaust. Germany has turned all of its concentration camps and places of slaughter into museums and places of education regarding their past mistakes and prevention of future such crimes. Germany fully aids and supports the state of Israel and helps it militarily by building Dolphin class submarines to strengthen Israel against its enemies. Germany’s Angela Merkel stood in front of the Knesset and apologized for the crimes of Nazi Germany against the Jewish people. These are just SOME of the steps Germany has done to have the current German people earn the forgiveness of Jews worldwide. Now… let’s compare these actions with how modern day Turkey has reacted for the past 50 years in taking responsibility for its actions and crimes against humanity as the peroertraitor of the Armenian Genocide. I sincerely hope you see the difference. So NO, Armenians will not forget not forgive until Turkey behaves like Germany has done, only then will the modern Turk begin to be viewed as civilized and worthy to be forgiven. Until then, no Turk is completely safe from any actions taken by Armenians worldwide for the crimes committed against our people. We WILL teach the Turk the lesson “it” needs to learn in order to be considered a civilized human being. Either they will pay with civility or with 1.5 million lives from now until the end of the world. If you are an Armenian “E” then I am ashamed to call myself one, if you are a Turk then go tell your government it’s time to stop hiding their crimes.

    • Gaidzag Shahbazian said:

      Hello E.
      Instead of preaching to us, lecture your government in Turkey to stop the killing of Kurdish people and accept the genocides (1894-1896, 1909, 1915, 1923) committed against the Armenians Turkey.

    • Alex Postallian said:

      E….Good Points….But,why LIE about the Armenian Genocide,for over a hundred years.YOUR MESSAGE SHOULD BE,FOR THE turks.

    • Arman said:

      If you’re writing an essay about friendship and fraternity, then don’t be a coward and say what your name is, Mr. E.

  5. Raffi said:

    Areminans should use word of mouth power and boycott this ass hle, while using the opportunity to explain people the reason why

    • Arman said:

      I’m ready to have a huge banner that exposes Affleck’s hypocrisy at the movie premier in LA. Who is with me?

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