SACRAMENTO, CA–On April 10, 2002 the Turkish Cultural Organization held a press conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Sacramento, California to deny the Armenian Genocide. The organization was protesting California State Assembly Bill 2003, which would provide teachers and human rights educators proper training on how to instruct schoolchildren about major crimes against humanity, such as the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. The bill enjoys major support in the California State Assembly and was unanimously passed by the Education Committee on April 3, 2002.
The Turkish Cultural Organization’s representative Karahan Mete explained at the press conference that the bill on the Armenian Genocide is, “an insult to (California) taxpayers, is cheap politics and is unethical.” He went on to remark that the legislation on the Armenian Genocide is, “an attempt to brainwash (American) children with a politically motivated and very disputed subject, the so-called Armenian Genocide.” He added in conclusion that, “some charismatic ethnic groups (Armenians and Jews) are carrying their social diseases from overseas into the United States we should not feed their paranoia.
“We are pleased that the Sacramento ANC, led by its Chairman Hovhannes Boghossian, challenged the Turkish Cultural Organization’s effort to deny the Armenian Genocide,” commented ANCA-WR Board member Raffi Hamparian. “Genocide denial must be met everywhere with the truth and that is what the ANC did in Sacramento this week,” Hamparian added.
As the press conference was being held, ANC officials and supporters asked a number of questions about why the Turkish Cultural Organization was the only group protesting Assembly Bill 2003. ANC officials and supporters continually questioned the Turkish speaker at the press conference, Karahan Mete, about facts related to the Armenian Genocide. Most revealing, was that the speaker repeatedly made factually incorrect statements, both about Assembly Bill 2003 and historic events. At one point, frustrated by the scrutiny his remarks were receiving, the speaker defiantly referenced the results of an alleged genocide conference in 1942, despite the fact that the term genocide had not yet been coined by Raphael Lemkin.
Although the press conference drew only one reporter, over 10 ANC officials and supporters were present at the event. Among them was the Chairman of the Sacramento ANC Hovhannes Boghossian, former ANCA-WR Executive Director Alex Sardar, the Chairman of the San Fernando Valley ANC Keri Terterian, and ANCA-WR Board Member Raffi Hamparian. Also present at the press conference were staff members from the office of Assemblyman Paul Koretz, the sponsor of Assembly Bill 2003.
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.