March 17, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: Lerna Kayserian
tel: (818) 500-1918

PROTEST AGAINST TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTER VECDI GÖNÜL’S VISIT TO LOS ANGELES

Glendale, CA – The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) announced today that thousands of Armenian Americans will be gathered at the Beverly Hills Hotel on March 24, 2006 at 11:00 a.m. to protest Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül’s visit to the Los Angeles area.

The Armenian American community will rally in front the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül will be a guest speaker at a luncheon hosted by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. During the luncheon, the Defense Minister will brief the audience on “The Evolving Security Environment and Turkey’s Strategic Role in Eurasia.” He will discuss Turkey’s role vis-à-vis the European Union, as well as the changing strategic landscape of Eurasia. There will be a question answer session following his speech, during which issues such as the Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s dismal record of human rights should be addressed.

In traveling to California, Defense Minister Gönül will be visiting a state that has not only recognized the acts perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish government in 1915 as Genocide, but one that teaches the history of this crime to its public school students, and has officially set aside a full week every April to honor its victims.

The Defense Minister’s visit comes at an especially sensitive time in U.S.-Turkey relations. In recent weeks, the film “Valley of the Wolves”, a fiercely anti-American movie, has been a box office hit in theatres across Turkey. According to BBC News, “the film clearly capitalizes on a wave of anti-American feeling.” It depicts US troops as cold blooded killers, causing hostility among Turks against the United States and encourages anti Semitism by portraying a Jewish US army doctor who cuts out the organs of Iraqi prisoners and sends them to Israel and the West. The film has been publicly praised by many Turkish leaders, including Prime Minster Erdogan, whose wife attended its premiere showing.

The film has prompted the U.S. military to issue warnings to our troops stationed in Turkey. American troops have been advised to avoid theatres in which “Valley of the Wolves” is playing, according to the February 7th report in Stars and Stripes. A partner in the film’s production company says “Valley of the Wolves” is not an exaggeration and shows the reality of the war in Iraq. Three million tickets have been sold since its February 3rd release. It is most expensive film ever produced in Turkey, continues to break box office records, and is due for release soon in Europe and the United States. The release of “Valley of the Wolves” is not the only recent demonstration of anti-Semitic and anti-American sentiment in Turkey; last year, Hilter’s “Mein Kampf” was a best-seller within the country.

The ANCA-WR encourages the community to voice their concerns against the Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and its continuous violations of human rights by joining thousands of protestors at the Beverly Hills Hotel on March 24th. The Beverly Hills Hotel is located on 9641 Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Those wanting to travel to the demonstration on community buses should call (818) 507-1933. For those who wish to attend the luncheon, please contact the Los Angeles World Affairs Council at (213) 628-2333 or visit their website www.lawac.org for information on making reservations.

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.

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