LOS ANGELES–Scores of high school students and faculty lined up in the gymnasium of Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School Tuesday to sign postcards being sent by the Armenian National Committee of America to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), urging the influential member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to ensure that a Genocide denier does not become the next US Ambassador to Armenia.
The postcard signing followed a joint press conference held at the school by the Armenian National Committee-Western Region and the Armenian Youth Federation Western Region. The event marked the official launch of a nationwide postcard campaign to end the gag rule placed on the United States by Turkey and to demand that the next US Ambassador to Armenia nominated by the Executive Branch stop participating in President Bush’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.
With Pilibos upperclassmen gathered behind the podium, ANCA Board member Raffi Hamparian introduced the campaign known as "End the Gag Rule" and described as unacceptable the systematic policy of the Bush Administration to allow Turkey to dictate US policy and decisions made in Congress.
President Bush has allowed a foreign government, the Republic of Turkey, to place a gag-rule on America’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Turkey has hired an army of lobbyists in Washington and used threats and intimidation to block legislation that calls upon all Americans to apply the lessons of that atrocity to help prevent future crimes against humanity.
"Someone sitting on C Street, where the US State Department is located, is allowing a foreign government to dictate how our Congress should conduct its affairs and it’s up to us as Americans to put an end to that," said Hamparian.
"The gag rule that the Turkish government has imposed on the United States must be lifted," ANCA-WR Executive Director Andrew Kzirian told reporters during the press conference.
Armenia has had no US Ambassador for over a year because President Bush refuses to send a diplomat there who will tell the truth about the Armenian Genocide. The last US Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, was fired by President Bush for speaking truthfully about the murder of 1.5 million Armenia’s in the first genocide of the 20th century.
In 2006 and 2007, two legislative holds were placed on President Bush’s nomination of Richard Hoagland to be Ambassador to Armenia. The holds were placed after Hoagland denied the Armenian Genocide in testimony submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
President Bush nominated Marie L. Yovanovitch on March 28, 2008 to serve as America’s next Ambassador to Armenia. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to consider her nomination shortly.
"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," Kzirian said, "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."
Also speaking was Armenian Youth Federation Western US Central Executive member Vache Thomassian, who said his organization will be mobilizing the community to take part in the post card campaign.
"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," he said. "Having an Ambassador to Armenia who properly understands our history is vital to improving and developing American-Armenian relations."
For more information visit endthegagrule.com