June 3, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ani Garabedian
tel: (818) 500-1918

ANCA Confronts Turkish Gag Rule on Armenian Genocide Recognition; Launches Nationwide Campaign at LA Press Conference

Los Angeles, CA – Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) leaders launched a multifaceted nationwide campaign today urging that the next U.S. Ambassador to Armenia speak truthfully about the Armenian Genocide. Announced at an ANCA Western Region organized press conference in Los Angeles, CA, held at Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School, the effort is part of the “End Turkey’s Gag Rule” campaign, calling attention to Turkey’s multi-million dollar worldwide Genocide denial drive. With hundreds of Pilibos students gathered behind the podium, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Board Member Raffi Hamparian and Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Central Executive Representative Vache Thomassian addressed the media regarding the campaign and stated that Armenia has had no U.S. Ambassador for over a year because President Bush refuses to send a diplomat there who will tell the truth about the Armenian Genocide. “America’s foreign policy on the Armenian Genocide has been hijacked by a foreign government, remarked Hamparian. “Turkish citizens don’t get to vote in America, don’t pay taxes in America, but they have been able to place a gag rule on our State Department. It’s time to end the gag rule on the Armenian Genocide and send an Ambassador to Armenia who can speak truth to power,” he added. The last U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, was fired by President Bush in 2006 for speaking truthfully about the murder of 1.5 million Armenians in the first genocide of the 20th century. “The AYF has been at the forefront of leading our youth in the struggle for genocide recognition and we continue to mobilize along with ANCA in this campaign,” said Thomassian. “Having an Ambassador to Armenia who properly understands our history is vital to improving and developing American-Armenian relations,” he added. For decades, the Turkish Government has hired an army of lobbyists in Washington, D.C. and used threats and intimidation to block legislation that calls upon all Americans to apply the lessons of the Armenian Genocide to help prevent future crimes against humanity. “The gag rule that the Turkish government has imposed on the United States must be lifted,” stated ANCA-WR Executive Director Andrew Kzirian. “Human rights activists and citizens of good conscience across the country are eager to hear from Ambassador Yovanovitch during the hearing to confirm her nomination – it is clear that many members of the Senate panel have serious concerns regarding the Administration’s continuous reluctance to characterize the Armenian Genocide accurately,” he added. On March 28, 2008, Pres. Bush nominated Amb. Marie L. Yovanovitch to serve as America’s next Ambassador to Armenia. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to consider her nomination shortly. The ANCA has launched an online action campaign urging Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to question Amb. Yovanovitch on issues including the Armenian Genocide as well as Turkey and Azerbaijan’s ongoing blockades of Armenia and the U.S. role in finding a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that respects the right to self-determination of the people of Karabagh. To learn more about and participate in the online campaign, visit: http://capwiz.com/anca/issues/alert/?alertid=11427491&type=TA The online effort is combined with a postcard campaign to key Senate Foreign Relations Committee members, urging them to take action. Pres. Bush’s previous nominee as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Richard Hoagland, was subject to two legislative holds by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and was ultimately withdrawn by the Administration, following the nominee’s statements denying the Armenian Genocide. The ANCA lead the Armenian American community campaign opposing Hoagland’s nomination, stating that a genocide denier could not be a credible and effective U.S. spokesperson in Armenia. The Armenian National Committee of America is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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Photo caption #1: ANCA Board Member Raffi Hamparian addresses the media. Photo Caption #2: AYF CE Representative Vache Thomassian addresses the media.