Armenian Community Responds to Kobe Bryant’s Direct-Flight to Inhumanity

AYF urges Bryant to properly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and drop his ill-advised business deal with Turkish Airlines

LOS ANGELES–Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has signed a 2 year agreement with Turkey’s national airline carrier. Bryant will be the reported “global ambassador” for Turkish Airlines, serving as the face and image of the company and its manager, the Turkish Republic.

The decision has caused uproar within the Armenian-American community in the United States and especially within Southern California, which boasts the largest population of Armenians outside of Armenia. As victims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government from 1915-1923, Armenians are angered that Bryant would sign a contract with a country that denies justice to the victims.

It’s a two-year deal that will involve Bryant starring in a promotional film that will be aired on international television channels and in movie theaters in more than 80 countries next year, reported CNBC on Tuesday.

Armenian Americans hope that Kobe would balance what clearly looks to be a profitable business deal with a strong moral statement against Turkey’s violations of human rights, including, of course, its ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Soon after the announcement of Bryant’s deal, disappointed callers flooded the lines of AM 570, the Laker radio station for over 30 years. Many in the community wonder how Bryant, who plays in a city with such a significant Armenian-American population, can sign a deal with a carrier which represents a country with such a deplorable human rights record.

Armenian Youth Federation offices throughout Southern California have similarly been bombarded with phone calls from concerned Armenian youth asking for a call to action.

The AYF urges Kobe Bryant to stay true to his loyal fan base and rescind his contract with Turkish Airlines. The AYF further asks Bryant to put out an official statement affirming his commitment to ending human rights abuses and voicing his support for House Resolution 252, calling on the United States Congress to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide.

“We ask our community to reach out to Kobe and urge him to speak out about the Armenian Genocide and recognize the wrongdoings of the Turkish government,” said Caspar Jivalagian, a member of the AYF. “Whether it is through his Twitter account ( or by calling local sports talk shows on Fox’s AM570, or ESPN’s AM 710, he really needs to hear from his fans about this ill-advised business agreement.”

The United Human Right Council, a grassroots activist group, echoed these concerns, “Turkey has a long history of human rights violations, including the occupation of Northern Cyprus, brutal repression of its Kurdish population, and imprisoning its citizens to suppress free speech. These types of abuses cannot be ignored.”

In 2007, Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink was gunned down in front of his office in Istanbul by an ultra-nationalist youth, angered by Dink’s outspoken stance regarding the genocide. Most recently, Kim Kardashian, sister-in-law of Laker forward Lamar Odom, came under scrutiny in the Turkish press for Tweeting about Armenian Genocide recognition.

“Kobe has a proven track record of aiding various humanitarian efforts, and this is an opportunity for him to become a true “global ambassador” of truth and publicly speak out about the Armenian Genocide,” added Jivalagian.

Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization in the United States. With chapters throughout the country and affiliates around the world, the AYF actively strives to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.

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  1. Seervart said:

    Dear AYF Members, I commend you on your vigilance about such a great cause, to stop the perpetrators “the republic of Turkey” to stop denying the Armenian Genocide and start paying reparations to the Armenians all around the world in the form of our confiscated lands – the Western Armenian lands that Turkey has confiscated and made it her eastern turkish lands.

    Furthermore, Armenians and the Hay Thad must see to it that every congressmen and every senator who speaks against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide must be stopped.

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  4. Phil said:

    We need a mailing address for Kobe to send him an actual snail mail LETTER.

    Please advise.

  5. Armineh Hovanesian said:

    he’s too arrogant… i don’t see him backing off! sorry, lakers fans!

  6. Shant Melkonian said:

    WOW!!! This is a bigger scandal than cheating on his wife with a hotel employee… I am Stunned. Out of all the NBA players (and there are a handful of Turks in there) why Kobe? Why our own? From our town, from our own LA Lakers… You would think Kobe has been well educated about Armenians issues. Well aware of the largest Armenian community in the world outside Armenia residing in the city his own team calls home!!! Especially during the same week of fresh news about what Kim Kardashian and Serj Tankian are trying to do with THEIR celebrity power… Kobe just spits on all of it and goes in totally the opposite direction… The $$$$$$$$$$! A big slap on our faces…

    Kobe, what are you thinking? Only MONEY, I guess… How can I NOW watch you play for the Lakers? How can I route for the Lakers? How can I give a damn about you of the Lakers anymore, as long as you’re on the team??? Too bad I already have planned for the Lakers to be the theme of my Christmas card being sent out this year, celebrating the REPEAT.

  7. Shant Melkonian said:

    I kind of (sadly) think Armineh is right…

    Will Armenian Airlines step up and sign a similar contract with Okur or Turkoglu?
    Or how about Lamar Odem-Kardashian offering to do same for Armenian Airlines, FOR FREE!!! I can just see Kim & Khloe K working on Lamar…

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  9. Van said:

    This is a failure of the Armenian community in LA. Continue having annual bazaars, church fund-raisers, kef nights. Continue paying heat bills (AC in LA though…) for the exaggerated amount of churches, community centers, clubs etc. leaving the Armenian Cause to unpaid, well-intended but mostly amateur individuals. We have so many brilliant lawyers, political scientists, historians etc. etc. but are they working for a professional, powerful lobby for the Armenian Cause? I think not. Why should Kobe take the Armenian genocide seriously if WE don’t? We have only ourselves to blame. Nevertheless, if we are lucky, it would be great if he made a stance for the victims of turkey’s crimes.

    • luisa said:

      I agree with you, Van, 100% — it’s easy to blame an illiterate sportsman for taking the candy he was offered –but how smart is that? And, yes, expect more of this to come as we cmeclose to the 100 years commemoration of the Genocide –next thing you see they will hire Robert De Niro or AC/DC to represent Turkey ==wha are we going to do? WHAT IS OUR PLAN!!! Get rid of the old fashioned approaches, involve bright minds–stop faghting amongst each other and THINK OF YOUR NEXT STEPS –dear community leders, and… involve everyone –do not exclude.. “aman, aiga hayastantsi e…”

  10. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    It’s a good thing that Turkey is seeking Western spokesmen for its airlines. It tells me Turkey is nowhere as savage and barbaric as the Taliban or the al Qaida Muslims. Turkey is on its way, aspiring or at least trying to join Western civilization.

    All Kobe has to do is say that his endorsement of Turkish Airlines does not imply any endorsement of its Turkish government policy of denying the Armenian genocide.

  11. Anahid said:

    Are you all serious? Before attacking a clueless jock on a career move, go into our own grocery stores and take a close look at the products on the shelves, and start reading the labels. Our own Armenian grocers support the Turkish economy by carrying unlimited number of Turkish products. Let’s take a good look in the mirror. If we are serious about boycotting Turkish products, let’s start with ourselves first, and refrain from this ridiculous, hypocritical behavior

  12. armenian guy said:

    how come lamar odem hasnt stepped up to kobe and said “my wifes race and family have gone through genocides and hatred by the people you getting paid from”

    any why hasn’t the Armenian community tried to draw on its starpower to encourage this?

  13. manooshag said:

    Turks are ‘using’ Kobe since he has spoken up for the Darfurian Genocide by the Sudanese (Sudan and Turkey are muslim allies).
    1 – Thus, using Kobe, with usual Turkey mode… great amounts of monies… Kobe
    may/may not realize that he was not really chosen for his prowess in basketball… No, he was chosen because he had, a few years ago, spoken up for the Darfurians slaughters and worse by the Sudanese.
    (ANCA have joined the protests held at the rear of the White House (hoping to gain Obama’s attention).
    2 – Currently… similar in our Washington DC…
    Turks are pouring great sums of monies – within the borders of the USA – actually in our capital city of the USA – Washington DC! A Turkey is destroying the site of the memorial foundation for President Woodrow Wilson! Reason being that early in the 20th century, nearly 100 years ago, President Wilson had been able to speak out against the Turks’ violation of the Armenian peoples.
    3 – NOW, a Turkey continues to deny the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation… A Turkey says it never committed Genocides (“muslim turkey’s donot commit Genocides” is the Turk’s latest PLOY). So Turks deny any Genocides, howsomever, Turks recall the stance of President Wilson (of nearly 100 years) and now poured monies into the demeaning an American presidents memorial site!!
    Recently retired the president of that site cannot have failed to notice actions of the Turks against the Wilson memorial… (so he probably ‘retired with honors’!
    4 – Too, the absence of any recognition of this violation/assault, even as the Turk would say ‘insult’ of all
    Armerican citizens’ for their memorial honoring a president who had graduated Princeton University, been the president of Princeton, and later our President Woodrow Wilson of the United States of America! Demeaned by the likes from the hordes of Asia…
    5 – Bully Turkey Genociders are now pursuing the ‘elimination’ of within our own borders, within
    our national capital city Washington DC our own president’s memorial. For a Turkey must do what a Turkey must do… wherever, whenever, whomever! Just as the Turk leaderships needed a ready made advanced ancient culture to ‘eliminate’ the Armenians and then Turks to claim the land as their own, the culture and all the wealths and more stolen of those slain, raped, kidnapped – as well all the Survivors who fled to the haven of the civilized nations of the world.
    6 – Turkey no longer expected any Armenians to lay claims to all that was there own – now all belonging to the hordes who had not – and have not – any history of their own. But yet, the Armenians adopted the Christian religion in 301AD (followed by the Romans 307AD) and their history exists, except where Turkics deliberately violate the antiquities wherever and however – to ‘eliminate’ the truths that these lands had belonged to the civilized Armenians. Actually, ancient sites are protected and honored for their honest antiquity by civilized nations – but not the Turkics… who know not that history serves all humanity… Turkics live only for the moment… cannot observe that history tells all about all those who come before… (except Turkics… whose history is so shameful… so they decide not to have any history!

  14. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    I liked all of the Turkish Airline commercials. Turkey is trying to adapt and join Western Civilization. It won’t be long till they try to accept the truth about their history and realize that they’re not the same Islamic imperialism’s avant-guard head hacking people of yesteryears anymore.

  15. manooshag said:

    So a Kobe joined the winners… the Sudanese and a Turkey, both Genocide perpetrators.
    Kobe, did you lie to the Darfurians when (a few years ago) you addressed their vile Sudanese Genocide?

  16. Licinia said:

    1. Bryant may be illiterate but his managers are not. He needs to be made aware and his org needs to know too. He needs to know that accepting the 30 pieces of silver is tantamount to appropving genocide.
    2. I am Greek American and I have NEVER bought anything made in Turkey. When I see something made in Turkey I always tell the store or business about it. Usually they don’t care but sometimes I get a response–a positive response.
    3. We cannot give up! We must stand together or we will all fade away…and our ancestors will never forgive us! Neither will our descendants!

  17. Araxi said:

    Turkey has corrupted many an American. Not only sportsmen, but historians of American and American Armenian descent.
    The corruption and bribary goes on and on and on.