Turkey’s New Gephardt Contract Seeks to Block Even Debate On Armenian Genocide

WASHINGTON–Department of Justice files obtained this week by the Armenian National Committee of America reveal details about Turkey’s new lobbying contract with DLA Piper, including a controversial – although not entirely surprising -provision that seeks to prevent even "debate" in the United States on legislation "that harms Turkey’s interests or image." According to the contract, Turkey is to pay DLA Piper $1.2 million for the year and an additional $750,000 to The Livingston Group, headed by Robert Livingston, a former Congressional leader who resigned in 1998 after a personal scandal. "These new Department of Justice filings reveal just how deeply Dick Gephardt has sunk, compromising his integrity by turning against a human rights issue he energetically supported as an elected Member of Congress," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We are especially troubled by the provision in the contract that seeks to export Turkey’s Criminal Code Article 301 to the United States by requiring DLA Piper to prevent even ‘debate’ on issues Turkey considers harmful to its image. This requirement, which falls far outside the American democratic tradition, is, sadly, entirely consistent with Turkish government’s efforts to suppress freedom of expression by criminalizing speech that ‘insults Turkishness.’" Earlier this month, Gephardt’s willingness to work as part of Turkey’s denial campaign stirred controversy across Capitol Hill. In a Dear Colleague letter, three leading Democratic supporters of the Armenian Genocide Resolution informed their fellow Members that the his opposition to this human rights legislation stood in sharp contrast to his strong record of supporting this measure during his years in Congress. The letter, written by Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA), the only Armenian American in Congress, Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the Co-Chairman of the Armenian Caucus, and Adam Schiff (D-CA), the lead sponsor of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, was accompanied by a copy of a September 2000 letter signed by then-Representative Gephardt in support of the timely adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. As a member of the House, Gephardt cosponsored legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide, as recently as H.Res.193 in 2003, and dating all the way back to H.J.Res.192, more than 20 years ago, during the 99th Congress. In 1998, he offered remarks at the ANCA Armenian Genocide Observance on Capitol Hill.

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