CLEVELAND–Ohio–A committee–comprised of a cross section of the Armenian and non-Armenian communities–has been formed to oversee the defense of Mourad Topalian and ensure that he receives a fair trial after being charged with 25-year-old allegations by the Bureau Alcohol,. Tobacco and Firearms.
Topalian is being charged with defending the Armenian Cause and fighting for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
The Defense Committee also announced that well-known Los Angeles-area attorney Mark Geragos has assumed the lead in Topalian’s defense.
To ensure that the community understands the intricacies of the matter–the Defense Committee has also issued the following announcement:
A broad cross-section of Americans from throughout the United States have joined together to help ensure that Mourad Topalian receives a fair trial on 25 year old allegations by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
As the prosecuting authorities in this case are well aware–Mourad Topalian is a prominent Armenian American spokesperson who has devoted countless hours as an active member of the Armenian National Committee–as a founding member of the board of directors of the Armenian Assembly of America–as an elected lay leader of the Armenian Church–and as a volunteer in a broad range of other organizations. The son of a survivor of the Armenian Genocide–he has–throughout his adult life–acted as a highly visible and effective advocate for the Armenian American community on the local–state and national levels.
Mourad Topalian has had an impressive career in education–conflict resolution–and public service–spanning more than three decades. He began as a school teacher in inner-city Cleveland where–in the classroom and as a football coach–he served as a mentor to countless students. During a tense and turbulent era in Cleveland he proved himself an effective mediator–bridging the gap among a wide variety of conflicting interests and groups. From there–he went on to start a small business in the Cleveland area–emerging as a prominent activist in local–state and then national politics. After spending several years in Miami–where he served as a special consultant to the President of Citibank Florida–Mourad Topalian returned to his Ohio roots by accepting his current post as Vice President for Resource Development/Foundation at Cleveland’s Cuyahoga Community College.
Mourad Topalian’s civic participation on issues of concern to Armenian Americans has brought him into disagreement–often times pointed–with the official positions advanced by the US State Department and other foreign affairs agencies of the federal government. Most notably–he has forcefully called for an end to the shameful US policy of complicity in the Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. He has helped enact sanctions–over the strident objections of the State Department–on US aid to Azerbaijan and Turkey for blockading Armenia. He has–in addition–played a key role in mobilizing successful grassroots opposition to a number of arms sales and transfers to Turkey based on human rights considerations.
During this same period–Mourad Topalian played a critical role in bringing together the diverse elemen’s of the Armenian American community to work politically toward a secure–independent–and democratic Armenia and a lasting and equitable peace throughout the Caucasus. Building consensus– bridging differences–and reaching out to all those who shared his devotion to the cause of peace and justice–he emerged as the Armenian American community’s most effective communicator–with credibility among individuals and groups representing the full range of Armenian political views and attitudes. He regularly gave voice to the democratic and peaceful aspirations of the Armenian people in meetings with the President and senior government officials in the White House–State Department–and the National Security Council. He has testified before the Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe–spoken at the State Department’s National Foreign Affairs Training Center–and participated in briefings and seminars at such prestigious non-governmental institutions as the Carnegie Endowment–the Carter Center and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The US government’s interest in silencing Mourad Topalian casts a shadow over this prosecution–calling into question the motives of the prosecution as well as his ability to receive a fair trial in the face of the tremendous resources being brought to bear against him by the federal government. As a result–Armenian Americans are joining with minority rights activists–civil libertarians–and grassroots advocates nation-wide to ensure that this politically motivated effort to silence the growing voice of Armenian Americans does not succeed.
The Mourad Topalian Defense Committee will work to ensure that Mourad Topalian’s constitutional rights are safeguarded and that he is afforded the opportunity to adequately defend himself against the considerable resources brought to bear against him by both the federal authorities and the foreign interests who seek to benefit from silencing the growing voice of Armenian Americans.
The Mourad Topalian Defense Committee has already established Post Office boxes and a website to cater to the needs of the community and to ensure a speedy line of communication with the public.
Individuals are urged to make contributions to fund by sending checks to the Mourad Topalian Defense Committee at PO Box 461–Chagrin Falls–OH 44022 or P.O. Box 10353–Glendale–CA 91209. Community members are also asked to visit the committee’s website at www.mouradtopalian.org.