WASHINGTON–The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today called the attention of Members of Congress to statemen’s and actions by Turkish leaders following the September 6th "soccer-diplomacy" match in Yerevan that directly undermine the prospects of moving toward an enduring Armenia-Turkey peace based on truth and justice.
Attached to each "ANCA Memo to the Hill" was a copy of the two-page September 4th ANCA letter circulated to Members of the House and Senate outlining the Armenian American community’s hopes, concerns, and reservations regarding Turkey’s approach to this matter.
Among its points, the ANCA Memo spotlighted Turkey’s post-soccer match prosecution of noted Turkish writer Temel Demirer, who had condemned the 2007 assassination of the Armenian-Turkish editor Hrant Dink because of his statemen’s recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Demirer’s lawyer called to Turkey’s promises to improve human rights "fairy tales."
The full text of the ANCA memo to Congressional offices is provided below.
To: Members of Congress
Attn: Foreign Affairs Legislative Aide
From: Aram Hamparian, Executive Director
Date: September 12, 2008
RE: Looking at Turkey’s real intentions
In a troubling September 10th Associated Press article, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ali Babacan revealed Turkey’s expectation that Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s acceptance of Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian invitation to Armenia to watch a soccer match will serve Turkey’s long-standing policy to deny the Armenian Genocide.
In the days since this soccer match, we have seen Turkey move in exactly the wrong direction, showing through its own actions that, unfortunately, its leaders view this visit as a photo opportunity to relieve the growing international pressure it is under to recognize the Armenian Genocide, rather than as a true opportunity to work with the Armenian people toward an enduring peace based on truth and justice.
Here are the facts:
- A new crackdown on discussion of the Armenian Genocide
Turkey has not only kept in place Article 301 of its criminal code–which criminalizes any discussion of the Armenian Genocide–but has, this week, actually pressed forward with a new, high-profile prosecution under this undemocratic law.
Turkey’s Justice Minister, Mehmet Ali Salin, just approved the prosecution, under Article 301, of a noted Turkish writer Temel Demirer for condemning the 2007 assassination of the Armenian–Turkish editor Hrant Dink because of his statemen’s recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
Demirer’s lawyer stated with dismay: "We were expecting this decision. With this decision, they have just proven that their promises regarding . . . human rights are all fairytales. On the one hand, they go to Armenia to watch a game, on the other hand they are filing cases under article 301."
- Refusal to honor new U.S. requests to lift its blockade
Despite repeated U.S. deman’s that Turkey lift its over 15-year-old, illegal blockade of landlocked Armenia, most recently articulated by Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on September 9th, Turkey has not taken any steps to end this clear violation of international law.
- Continued outright denial of the Armenian Genocide
As recently as September 10th, the Turkish Embassy’s website continues to host pages describing Armenian "allegations" regarding the "so-called" Armenian Genocide as a "myth."