December 16, 2010
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel. (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell

ANCA: KOBE BRYANT ENDORSEMENT DEAL WITH TURKISH AIRLINES “ILL-ADVISED”

Urges Bryant to Drop Endorsement Deal; Speak Out in Support of U.S. Affirmation of the Armenian Genocide through passage of H.Res.252

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WASHINGTON, DC – Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian issued the following statement regarding recent reports of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant’s endorsement deal with Turkish Airlines.

“For Armenian Americans, Kobe’s contract with Turkish Airlines is like jet fuel on the fire of Turkey’s genocide denial.”

“As ‘global ambassador’ for Turkey’s state airline, he will represent a government that denies the Armenian Genocide and a company that directly supports groups like the American Turkish Council that lobby against American recognition of this crime.”

“We are hopeful that Kobe, in selling his brand, hasn’t also sold his soul by agreeing to remain silent about Turkey’s human rights abuses. He should reconsider his ill-advised endorsement of Turkish Airlines, and, at the very least, go on record condemning Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and calling upon our Congress to pass of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.252).”

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Editors: For a Southern California angle on this story, please speak with the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Western U.S. and the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region (ANCA-WR) (both headquartered in Glendale, CA).

For interviews, contact

AYF: Arek Santikian at Asantikian@gmail.com / 559-908-0417
ANCA-WR: Rostom Sarkissian at rostom.sarkissian@ancawr.org / (818) 500-1918.

Read the AYF Press Statement here

BACKGROUND:

Turkish Airlines:

— Turkish Airlines is not like United or American Airlines or other U.S. based air carriers. It was founded by decree of the Turkish Government in 1933, which continues to own 49.12% of the company. By signing with Turkish Airlines, Kobe is representing Turkish Government interests – which sadly include Armenian Genocide denial, the occupation of Cyprus, repression of the Kurds and Christian minorities, and a host of other human rights abuses. See ownership reference here

— The American Turkish Council (ATC) thanked Turkish Airlines for their “generous support” for the Annual ATC Convention in Washington DC in October 2010. The ATC has directly lobbied against Armenian Genocide legislation (H.Res.252). See reference here

The Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.252) and U.S. Affirmation of the Armenian Genocide

— The ANCA and the Armenian Youth Federation are calling on Kobe to clarify his position on the Armenian Genocide and urge for passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

— Spearheaded by Southern California Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) as well as Reps. George Radanovich (R-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), the Armenian Genocide Resolution calls upon the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide.

— The Armenian American community has been joined by Kim Kardashian and Serj Tankian in urging Speaker Pelosi to schedule a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the next week, prior to the end of this session of Congress.

— President Ronald Reagan recognized the Armenian Genocide in a statement in 1981. The House of Representatives passed legislation on the Armenian Genocide in 1975 and 1984. An amendment cutting aid to Turkey because of its denial of the Armenian Genocide passed the House in 1996. Legislation similar to the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.252) has pass the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2010

— There are 42 U.S. States that have recognized the Armenian Genocide, among them California, which annually commemorates this crime against humanity.

The Armenian Genocide

— The Armenian Genocide was the centrally planned and systematically executed annihilation of the Armenian people by the Ottoman Turkish Government from 1915-1923 which resulted in the death over 1.5 million men, women and children.

Click here to learn more about the Armenian Genocide.

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