Did Kobe Lie?

Once A Voice to End Genocide in Darfur, Kobe Bryant Now Promotes Sudan’s Ally in Denial and 20th Century’s First Perpetrator of Genocide



BY ALLEN YEKIKAN

In 2008, Kobe Bryant was a strong voice calling for an end to the genocide in Darfur, but today, he has signed a deal to represent the Republic of Turkey, which denies any genocide in Darfur and is the infamous perpetrator of the first Genocide of the 20th century.

In May 27, 2008 Bryant made a public service announcement through the Los Angeles-based non-profit Aid Still Required, urging action to unite to end the Genocide in Darfur.

“In Darfur hundreds of thousands have been murdered, mutilated, families torn apart. Please take a stand with us. We have the power to save lives, to restore lives,” Bryant said in the PSA, published on Youtube. “If we can unite people, who are willing to take a stand, miracles can happen.”

Since 2003, the Sudanese government in Khartoum has slaughtered half a million people in Darfur, while forcibly uprooting nearly 3 million more from their homes in February 2003. The Sudanese government, like the Republic of Turkey, denies it is committing genocide.

Turkey is among Sudan’s greatest allies, covering up its genocide and providing arms to the Sudanese government, led by Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

In November 2009, Turkey came under intense international criticism for agreeing to host al-Bashir.  Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, even defended his ally, refusing to arrest al-Bashir and denying the genocide in Darfur. According to Erdogan, there was no genocide raging in Darfur, the international warrant for his arrest was a “mistake,” and Bashir may simply have only “mismanaged the situation.”

As 2010 comes to an end, Bryant finds himself again in the headlines over the issue of Genocide. This time, however, not as the anti-genocide activist he seemed to be in 2008, but as what appears to be an accomplice to the denial of at least two genocides.

Earlier this week Kobe signed a two-year agreement with Turkey’s national airline carrier to serve as its “global ambassador,” effectively becoming the face and image of the company and its manager, the Turkish Republic.

Kobe’s 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, ranging between 600,000 to 750,000.

Armenians are angered that Bryant would sign a contract with a country that not only denies that the Ottoman Turkish government committed genocide against 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 , but also actively works to defend modern day perpetrators of the crime.

“We don’t understand how Kobe could forget about Darfur and overlook Turkey’s gross record on human rights and its complicity and support for the genocide there,” said Caspar Jivalegian of the Armenian Youth Federation. “It is troubling that the very country that perpetrated the first genocide of the 20th century and actively supports the first genocide of the 21st century, is now contracting a strong opponent of the Darfur genocide to represent its global brand.”

For Jivalegian, Bryant’s decision and his complete silence on the matter sets a very bad example for young fans who “look up to Kobe both on and off the court.”

“Kobe is not just a basketball player, he is local, national, and global a role model with a responsibility to set a positive example to the millions of people who look up to him and support him,” Jivalegian said, adding that Bryant made a poor play by signing a deal with a Genocide perpetrator after making a video calling for an end to genocide in Darfur. “This shows a disconnect between Kobe and the many communities that make up Los Angeles and the Lakers fan base.”

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 its ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide.

“Turkish Airlines is not like United or American–it was founded by the Turkish government, which still owns some 49 percent of the company.  They are supporters of groups like the American Turkish Council who lobby against U.S. Affirmation of the Armenian Genocide,” said Jivalegian.

“Kobe is a champion on the basketball court, and we look to him to be a champion of human rights by speaking truthfully about the Armenian Genocide, supporting U.S. Congressional passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.252) – and ultimately dropping this ill-advised endorsement deal,” Jivalegian added.

More information about the issue can be found here.

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17 Comments

  1. Levon S. said:

    Together we have the power to combat genocide, intolerance and with your latest stunt Bryant… HYPOCRISY TOO!

    Stop BS’ing people with your trumped up showy pleas for humanitarian causes Kobe and either stand up as the hypocrite you have been exposed to be or stand up and prove that you are the community leader you claim to be.

  2. Viken Karapetian said:

    Armenians should be more concerned about what’s going on inside Armenia rather than criticize someone for signing an endorsement deal with an airline carrier. Many Armenians use that airline when they travel to the Caucasus. If the writer of this article has an issue with the airline carrier, he should encourage an Armenian boycott of the airline.

    I’m a passionate Armenian-American. I believe there are better channels available to publicize Turkey’s crimes against humanity than getting Kobe Bryant involved.

    • Osik said:

      Viken, it looks like you didn’t read the article and didn’t watch Kobe’s video otherwise you shouldn’t be making your above comments.
      I will explain for you why we; the passionate Armenians of Diaspora are picking on Kobe for his Airline contract with Turkey.
      In those days that Darfur Genocide was a buzzword and President Clinton made a very moving lecture without backing it with his action, Kobe following Clinton’s footsteps and made the above video condemning the perpetrators of that Genocide.
      So far although it was sort of “monkey see monkey do”; and by disregarding that he also used it as a “whiteout” on his “Infidelity” case; in general there was nothing wrong with his comments and most importantly we, the Passionate Armenian of Diaspora cheered for him as an Anti-Genocide person.
      After president of Darfur; the perpetrator of that Genocide was toppled; didn’t have any place to hide; the only country that accepted him with open arms and treated him as a brother and hero; was Turkey.
      Since we; the Passionate Armenians of Diaspora use every possible channel to pressure Turkey; bombarded them with negative comments therefore at that time we and Kobe still were in one virtual camp until he signed the Airline contract with Turkey.
      Even now we are simply asking him by nullify that contract to do what he preached in that video because signing any contract with the country that harbored and hosted that criminal; contradicts with the content of his humanitarian video about the Darfur Genocide.

    • TM said:

      A principle stand against genocide and its denial doesn’t mean selectively raising awareness with some and not others, about the perils of developing unsavory relations with an unrepentant perpetrator of genocide. Our principled stand also doesn’t mean waiting until we convince all Armenians to divest from Turkey to raise awareness with the rest of society about Turkey’s ongoing complicity in genocide and its denial. They can both be addressed simultaneously and do in fact complement one another. To think that one must precede the other is just naive at best. There may never come a time when ALL Armenians will understand why divesting from Turkey is in their best interest. Does this mean that we should not raise awareness about Turkey’s unscrupulous past with those ill advised individuals in society who support the government, until that happens? No of course not! We should encourage our members to both: divest from Turkey AND encourage the broader community to do the same (especially those who so vociferously claim to be concerned about “mutilated and murdered families” in Darfur like Mr. Bryant has.)

    • Vartan said:

      we are concerend of whats going on in Armenia and also in this country, just make sure you don’t travel true that airline……:)

  3. haha wtf said:

    I didn’t know Kobe took part in the genocide?! 😮 lmao gotta love commotion

    • Osik said:

      You aren’t alone, you guys just keep flipping your Playboy magazine pages and enjoy Kobe’s games; we will do the politics for you.

    • Vartan said:

      buuny
      He doesn’t have to be there, his profits and his silence is enough for him to be a part of denial and genocide………….

  4. wing said:

    Guy… he is promoting an AIRLINE COMPANY based in Turkey. You make yourself ridiculous.

  5. Dziranig said:

    I agree with Viken – the airline in question is vital for a lot of Armenians who want to visit Historical Armenia (which we SHOULD just to make the point that we’re still here and can and will visit our forefathers’ lands!) and the Caucasus. Have we not got more subtle and effective ways of combatting the Genocide deniers? I am sorry, but this is a petty way of going about the issue — unworthy compared to our true capabilities of challenging deniers and fighting for our rights.

  6. Nick said:

    Levon, Kobe a community leader? Are you kidding me? The guy rapes girls and has no character, acts like an infant on the court when one of his team members makes a mistake, then he expects full respect from his peers. I agree with Viken, if Turkey wants to cough up money to an LA basketball star, let them do it. They chose the right character guy to represent a Turkish company. Kobe is a hypocrite and so is the Turkish government. I don’t see why we’re exploiting this deal all over the news and bringing negative attention to a sensitive subject from all the ghetto basketball fans. Arek lurj hartzov khoranak, et lakotnereh vor cruz en anum tzekhaspanutzyan oreh, vonts vor tona.

  7. Manvel said:

    I think we need to focus our energies on Armenia itself. We are dealing with another exodus of people, corrupt government, disenfranchised population with no or little hope for the future. As a proud Armenian American, I think we can not dictate to Kobe what his business dealing should be. In reality i am sure it is strictly a business decision and not a human rights decision. Stop wasting our limited energy and funds on superficial things…. we are losing ARMENIA!!!

  8. Randy said:

    This is headline news!!!! you people have nothing better to do with your time. I’m not a Kobe fan by any means, but you are taking the genocide issue to a new level.

  9. amb said:

    We need to reach for the hearts and minds of ordinary American citizens, with coordinated, organized, professional PR-type publicity and campaigning, so the fact of the Armenian Genocide is considered by the average American citizen as just that, a fact.

    I doubt if Kobe would have endorsed a business that benefited the Palestinians. Coordinated, organized, professional PR-type publicity and campaigning by the adversaries of Palestinians have made Palestinians, in the eye of the average American citizen, evil and wrong.

    Armenians need to do the same type of campaigning. So that next time, an average citizen – or not so average citizen like Kobe – considers a matter of common sense not to alley themselves with Turkey and its interests since it would be common knowledge and considered a given fact that Turkey’s atrocities against the Armenians took place and have gone unacknowledged and unrequited.

    And this campaigning can not be done with likes of the ANC or the Assembly; the mission of these organizations are different. We need a novel and fresh approach and organization(s) for this new quest.

  10. Hratch said:

    It is an utter shame that we must look to others for salvation. What we lack can not be compensated by others!

  11. manooshag said:

    Kobe is being used by the Turks. Kobe had spoken out against the Sudanese Genocide of the Darfurians.
    Turks recall his stance and today they are using Kobe, he may or may not know this.. For the Turkeys and the Sudanese are allies!! And the Turks know how and where to spend their monies.
    Turks have a short memory of committing Genocide of the Armenians – and are in denials on/going and unending… but their memory is sharp remembering that nearly 100 years ago the President of the USA, Woodrow Wilson spoke up in his pursuit of the Turks for their guilt of Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation – thus the ‘invasion’ and the ‘assault’ by the Turk leaderships TODAY against the memorial created by USA citizens to honor their honest and stalwart leader, Woodrow Wilson. Wilson graduated from Princeton University, was president of Princeton – later was elected to become the President of the United States of America. Now, nearly 100 years later the Turks, in another of their PLOYS, have chosen to
    destroy/desecrate Wilson’s memorial. The president of the memorial – coincidently recently retired shall certainly been aware of the Turk destruction of Wilson’s memorial (or was stupid… if he was not aware!
    Too, are the ex-congress people who are the Turk lobbyists (for Turks’ huge monetary payments) also involved in this violation of Wilson’s memorial… as Americans??
    are employing PLOYS – daily, weekly, monthly and more. Now, nearly 100 years later the Turk leaderships recall that President Wilson had dared to speak out against the Turkish Genocides of the Armenians… (which the Turks deny, deny, deny) but “remembering” Wilson’s stance have now taken actions against the President Woodrow Wilson memorials… (included too the Smithsonian Museums).
    Are the USA excongressmen, now lobbyists for Turks leaderships, involved in this ‘invasion’?? Manooshag

  12. manooshag said:

    Yep, Turks first attack Woodrow Wilson memorial, yes, yes, in the USA capitol, Washington DC
    because Wilson, nearly 100 years ago, and his stance was against the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians..
    Too, Turks have remembered so now this PLOY against Wilson, on USA soil, – but Turk still denies Genocides… but can ‘assault’ our President Wilson even on American lands, wherever, WHOMever!
    So, too, Kobe… is being used by the Turk leaderships… why? Kobe spoke up for his brethern in Darfur… so Turks are willing to spend all the monies it takes to tricking Kobe Bryant. Poor Kobe…
    Oh, are the ex-congressmen, lobbyists for a Turkey involved in all these shenanigans against the Wilson memorial, and too, the deceitful treatment of a Kobe – are they against all things American for the Turkish monies, unlimited in spending for whatever the Turk seeks!!
    Manooshag

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