WASHINGTON—The Armenian National Committee of America has welcomed the State Department’s first public expression of concern regarding a recent Turkish court’s “blasphemy” ruling against noted journalist and writer Sevan Nisanyan, an ethnic Armenian citizen of Turkey.
In a June 7, 2013 letter, the Department of State responded to ANCA’s requests for a public U.S. position on this human rights and religious freedom issue, by noting: “We are deeply concerned about any attempt to punish individuals for exercising their right to free speech, including the case of Sevan Nisanyan. The long term stability, security, and prosperity of all countries, including Turkey are best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association. These freedoms are crucial to any healthy democracy.”
The ANCA has, in its outreach to the White House and State Department on this case, stressed the need for a vocal American defense of Nisanyan’s right to freedom of expression, noting that the U.S. government, despite many warning signs – including those shared by the ANCA – remained publicly silent on Turkey’s persecution of writer Hrant Dink, until after he was assassinated in 2007. The ANCA will continue to press for a more active and vocal U.S. defense of Nisanyan, who has, in the past, been prosecuted and politically pressured over his truthful statements about the Armenian Genocide.