January 22, 2007

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, along with leaders of the Armenian American community in the greater Los Angeles area and human rights activists gathered in front of the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles to condemn the murder of Hrant Dink. Dink, an outspoken champion of freedom of speech and acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide, was shot dead on Friday in front of the offices of AGOS, an Armenian/Turkish bi-lingual newspaper based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Expressing its outrage in solidarity with nearly twenty other community organizations and leaders, the ANCA-WR opened the press conference which was widely covered by the local media. Covering the event were all of the local area television networks as well as print and radio news outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, KNX, and KFWB.

“While one or two people may be ultimately identified as Hrant Dink’s killers, the blood is on the hands of the Turkish Government and by extension our own U.S. government,” remarked Zanku Armenian, ANCA-WR Board Member and spokesman for the event. “It is the apex of hypocrisy for the Turkish government to condemn this murder when it is they who have emboldened a culture of intolerance, hate, and genocide with their continuing denial of the Armenian Genocide. It is the Turkish government who is responsible for this latest victim of the Armenian Genocide.”

Also addressing the media were CA State Assembly Member, Paul Krekorian (D-43-Glendale) as well as Frank Zerunyan, Chairman of the Armenian Bar Association and Mayor Pro-Tempore of Rolling Hills Estates. They were joined by Glendale City Council Member, Ara Najarian, who drew comparisons between the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and the slain editor who was an advocate for minority rights in Turkey.

Carla Garapedian, director of the movie, SCREAMERS, also addressed the crowd. Dink was prominently featured in the genocide awareness movie in which he addressed the pressures faced by those seeking to raise the issue of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey.

Katusha Galitzine, Freedom to Write Director from PEN USA joined the community in condemning the murder. PEN USA is based in Los Angeles and the national affiliate of International PEN. On Friday, International PEN issued a statement on the occasion of Dink’s murder which stated, in part, “Dink, whose campaign against the law making it a crime to insult the Turkish State, particularly as it relates to the killings of Armenians in the early years of the last century, has paid the highest price with his own life.”

The ANCA-WR was also joined by representatives from the Prelacy of the Armenian Church (Western U.S.), Diocese of the Armenian Church (Western U.S.), the Armenian Catholic Exarchate of North America, the Organization of Istanbul Armenians, the Ramgavar Party, the American Hellenic Council, the United Human Rights Council, Homenetmen (Western U.S.), the Armenian Youth Federation (Western U.S.), and the ANC-Professional Network.

ANC’s around the globe condemn Dink murder

On Friday, the ANCA released a statement condemning the murder. “Hrant Dink’s murder is tragic proof that the Turkish government – through its campaign of denial, threats and intimidation against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide – continues to fuel the same hatred and intolerance that initially led to this crime against humanity more than 90 years ago,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

Also on Friday, the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy released a statement in which EAFJD Chairwoman Hilda Tchoboian declared, “In a country where the system of education and the political culture moulds the minds of the people with hatred towards the Non-Turkish citizens of the country and where racism is rampant with extreme-right organizations occupying a place of honour, this is a sad reminder that things are far from changing in today’s Turkey. This vile murder proves once again that racism has deep roots in Turkey.”

On Saturday, the San Francisco-Bay Area ANC hosted a community event featuring Turkish scholar, Dr. Taner Akcam, on the occasion of the recent release of his book A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility. Following the event, Akcam, a friend of Dink’s, flew to Turkey to attend his funeral.

On Sunday, the Fresno-Central CA ANC hosted director, Carla Garapedian on the occasion of the local premier of the movie SCREAMERS. Both the San Francisco and Fresno area events were covered by local print, radio, and television media.

In the news…

ANCA-WR Comments on Dink Assassination covered by London’s Guardian Unlimited click here to see article

•ANCA Comments on Dink Assassination on CNN click here to see article

•ANCA-WR Comments on Dink Assassination on KCBS News click here to see article

•ANCA-WR Comments on Dink Assassination in Saturday edition of the Los Angeles Times click here to see article

•ANCA-WR Comments on Dink Assassination in Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times click here to see article

•ANCA-WR Comments on Dink Assassination on LA outlet for National Public Radio click here to see article

Persecuted for his outspoken references to the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century, the Turkish judiciary recently upheld a six-month suspended sentence against Dink for “insulting Turkishness”. Several other prominent voices of dissent against the Turkish Governments official policy of genocide denial have been similarly charged under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code. The code, a continuation of previous penal codes outlawing discussion of the Armenian Genocide, continues to draw sharp criticism from the European Union, which Turkey hopes to join.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) 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. #####

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Lerna Kayserian
Email / Tel: (818) 500-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
Western Region
104 N. Belmont, Suite 200, Glendale, CA 91206 * Tel. (818) 500-1918