State Department Pressure Delays Consideration of Resolution Condemning Dink Assassination

WASHINGTON, DC — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today delayed discussion of a measure, authored by the panel’s chairman Joe Biden (D-DE), condemning the brutal murder of journalist and human rights activist Hrant Dink, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). The Committee’s top Republican, Richard Lugar (R-IN), called for the delay in the consideration of S.Res.65 amid heavy pressure from the Administration to remove references to Dink’s prosecution "under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for speaking about the Armenian Genocide." The legislation also urges the Turkish government to repeal this anti-free speech law. The resolution will now be scheduled for discussion at the Committee’s next business meeting. "We are troubled that Senator Lugar – apparently acting at the request of the Administration – has delayed the U.S. Senate’s tribute to the life and memory of Hrant Dink," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We look forward to the panel, at the next opportunity, rejecting any efforts to block or water down this measure, and passing it in the form it was introduced." Following the delay, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Member Chris Dodd (D-CT) stated that, "It is unfortunate that the committee deferred action on this important resolution. I look forward to voting in support of the resolution when the committee considers it at the next business meeting." Chairman Biden noted that, "Hrant Dink was a leading voice in Turkey’s Armenian community and an eloquent advocate for human rights, press freedom, and reconciliation. His assassination was an outrage and a tragedy. Hrant’s legacy deserves our respect and his death, our condemnation."Hrant Dink spoke out for tolerance in an era when voices like his need to be heard," stated Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. "His assassination was a terrible crime which warran’s the strong condemnation of the Congress and the entire international community." In the days leading up to today’s delay, ANCA activists in the 21 states with Senators on the Committee encouraged support for S.Res.65 through phone calls, faxes, and meetings. They also reminded Senate offices that Hrant Dink’s brutal murder is a wake up call for the U.S. Senate to pass legislation formally recognizing and commemorating the Armenian Genocide. Those interested in taking action on this issue may visit: http://capwiz.com/anca/issues/alert/?alertid=9451776&type=CU On March 5th, the ANCA, in a letter sent to each of the members of the Foreign Relations Committee, urged Senators to oppose any efforts to water-down the language of S.Res.65. "We are opposed to any amendmen’s which would alter the meaning of this measure, especially any that seek to remove mention of the Armenian Genocide, the very crime that Hrant Dink was so brutally persecuted for recognizing. An amended resolution that does not openly and honestly address the Armenian Genocide would represent a tragic surrender to the very same forces of intolerance that silenced him." Two similar measures have been introduced in the U.S. House by Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), one that mentions the Armenian Genocide and one that does not. The ANCA supports the former, but not the latter.

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