SAN RAMON, CA–Chevron Corporation tried to explain away its opposition to Congressional legislation affirming the Armenian Genocide, using the standard Turkish and Azerbaijani government talking points to justify their complicity in denying this crime against humanity, reported the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF).
“As a major energy producer in the region, we support the integrity of multiple energy transportation routes and a diplomatic relationship between Turkey and Armenia,” Chevron spokesman Justin Higgs announced, adding that the genocide resolution, “would have hurt, not helped, relations between Turkey and Armenia.”
“An enduring diplomatic relationship between Turkey and Armenia can only be based on truth,” said AYF San Francisco chapter chairman Matt Senekeremian, leading the Bay Area protest. “Lobbying against the Armenian Genocide resolution is a pure and simple case of profiting from the denial of the murder of 1.5 million men, women and children – a short-sighted policy which only serves to fuel greater instability in the region.”
Chevron’s comments came as the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) joined with Armenian Americans and human rights activists in kicking off a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about Turkish Government coercion of the energy giant and some five multinational corporations currently lobbying against Armenian Genocide legislation (H.Res.252). The resolution, spearheaded by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), George Radanovich (R-CA), and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone and Mark Kirk, has over 125 cosponsors.
Rep. Schiff chastised Chevron and the other corporations for opposing the Genocide resolution, noting “I don’t think any major American corporation should be lobbying against the genocide recognition and become complicit in another country’s genocide denial,” Schiff told the Glendale News-Press. “I don’t think that’s being a good corporate citizen. It’s certainly putting profits in front of the public interest.”
The protests began on July 22, 2009 at the Chevron headquarters in San Ramon, California and local stations across the U.S., including sites in Burbank, La Crescenta, Pasadena, San Fernando Valley, Orange County, Glendale, Fresno, as well as Bethesda, MD, Orlando, FL and Philadelphia, PA. An online letter writing campaign to Chevron CEO Dave O’Reilly was launched in conjunction with the protests, urging the company to publicly apologize for profiting from Genocide denial. A copy of the letter was hand delivered to the Chevron corporate headquarters by protesters in San Ramon.
Concerned about public response to their action, Chevron’s corporate headquarters had alerted their franchisees about the AYF led protest prior to the campaign launch. Washington, DC area protesters also reported that Chevron had sent their own photographers to the protest.
Protests were covered in local newspapers, including the Orlando Sentinel, where AYF Keri chapter member Raffi Mekhdjavakian explained “It’s contradictory of Chevron to have their motto ‘The Chevron way’ and say that they are responsible and ethical when they are lobbying against a human rights situation,” said Raffi Mekhdjavakian, an Oviedo resident with the Armenian youth group. “If [the genocide] is denied it’s as if it never happened.”
Mekhdjavakian referrred to statements on Chevron’s website where the corporation prides itself on running the company the “Chevron Way” – responsibly, ethically and with respect to human rights. However, on June 13th, the Associated Press revealed that Chevron and 5 other multinational energy and defense corporations, including BAE Systems, Raytheon, Northrop
Grumman, United Technologies and Goodrich have filed disclosure forms with the Senate and House “quietly” lobbying against H.Res.252 the Armenian Genocide Resolution, among a wide array of legislation. In first quarter of 2009 alone, the six firms have spent some $14 million in Congressional lobby efforts. This is in addition to the over $3 million spent annually by the Government of Turkey to block U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, a cornerstone of their foreign policy priorities.
“Clearly, Turkey will spare to no expense to cover up its dark past,”said AYF Western Region Chairman Vache Thomassian. “Coercing corporations like Chevron to do its dirty deeds is just the latest tactic – exporting genocide denial to our neighborhoods, one gas station at a time.”
Complete information about Chevron’s lobbying efforts – including lobby disclosures forms filed with the Senate and House – are posted at http://www.anca.org/chevron. A Facebook group calling attention to the effort has over 1300 activists.