Charges Filed by Turkish Student against UC Irvine ASA Dropped

–ANC-OC sends letters to the Administration of UCI and CSULB regarding the Universities’ position on the Armenian genocide and in support of the UCI ASA.

The Armenian Student Association (ASA) at the University of California Irvine was called before the Student Judicial Affairs Council on May 23–2006 for an alleged violation of the University’s Physical Abuse policy–as claimed by a small Turkish group who protested this year’s Genocide Commemorations. The student council subsequently dismissed the charges and ruled that the ASA had not violated any University Policies.

The alleged incident took place on April 24 at the ASA’s Armenian Genocide Commemoration event. While Yeghzapet Garabedyan–a 92 year old Genocide survivor was speaking–this small group of protestors began waving a Turkish flag and screaming "liar,"the Armenia’s killed the Turks," and a barrage of other obscenities.

Their chants and screams grew louder as they approached the crowd attending the commemoration event. Although their numbers were small–approximately 5 or 6–they still attempted to disrupt the solemn event. UCI Campus Police were called by attendees at the commemoration event. Yeghzapet Garabedyan continued her remarks undisturbed against the backdrop of flashing police lights once the officers had arrived.

As the small Turkish group attempted to walk towards the Commemoration–the UCI Campus Police asked them to stop–where they continued to yell at those gathered to honor the memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian genocide. The protestors were eventually escorted from the commemoration by UCI Campus Police. No charges were filed and no arrests were made.

In a shameless act of desperation after unsuccessful efforts to disrupt the solemn Commemoration–one of the protestors chose to file a complaint against the UCI Armenian Student Association claiming that the student association had violated the University’s physical abuse policy. If the allegations were true–the UCI ASA would have been suspended as an accredited student organization at the university and been unable to organize any future Armenian genocide related events. The individual who filed the complaint–Vuslat Demirkoparan–is also a Teacher’s Aid (TA) at UCI and has close ties with the Turkish Student Association at California State University Long Beach (CSULB).

Also involved was Professor Tulin Mangir from CSULB. Professor Mangir is currently the faculty advisor to the Turkish Students Association at CSULB. She has been the Vice President of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) and was a winner of the 2002 Women of Distinction Award from The Daughters of Ataturk. Professor Mangir wrote an open letter to Chancellor Drake at UCI condemning the Genocide commemoration event–labeling Armenian organizations as terrorists–accusing Armenia’s of perpetrating a genocide against Turks–and stating that the Armenian genocide is a fabricated claim perpetuated by "bought" politicians.

The Armenian National Committee of Orange County (ANC-OC) got involved immediately–met with representatives of the UCI ASA and drafted letters–including supplemental materials–to be sent to UCI and CSULB. On May 19–the letters and materials were delivered to Chancellor Drake and Vice Chancellor Gomez of UCI. Copies were also sent to Chairman Parsky of the UC Board of Regents and Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante–who is an ex-officio member of the UC Regents. The ANC-OC also asked that all baseless allegations against the UCI ASA be immediately dropped.

The ANC-OC has also mailed letters to the President Alexander at CSULB–and to Chancellor Reed of the California State University System–and Dr. Edelman–the director of the Center for studies on Genocide and Holocaust in Chico.

The ANC-OC asked that both Universities clarify their positions regarding the teaching of the Armenian genocide–and that disciplinary action be taken against faculty members not following the state’s educational guidelines and policies as outlined in the California Education Code and the Model Curriculum on Human Rights. They also asked the administration at UCI to take disciplinary action against the TA for filing false charges against the ASA and organizing an unauthorized protest at the University. ANC-OC is requesting that the administration at CSULB secure a letter of apology from Professor Mangir–or in the alternative seek disciplinary action.

On May 23–the 2006 UC Irvine ASA Executive Board Members appeared before the Student Judicial Affairs Council. It was announced that the UCI ASA had not violated the University’s Physical Abuse Policy and that the Executive had followed all appropriate procedures in organizing the event.

The ANC-OC will follow up with both universities and is awaiting a response to schedule a meeting with both administrations.

For more information about ANC-OC please visit www.ancoc.org–and if you would like to get involved please send an email to info@ancoc.org.

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