Dozens of demonstrators shouting "Lowry is a liar" and "Kandemir Get Out of Here" greeted attendees of a convention attended by controversial Armenian Genocide revisionist Heath Lowry and Turkish Ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir Saturday–Oct. 4.
The demonstration–organized by the Armenian National Committee of Illinois–was held to protest Turkey’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide–its blockade of Armenia–and Turkey’s numerous human rights abuses.
The demonstration took place outside the hotel where the Assembly of Turkish-American Associations was holding its 18th Annual Convention. Besides Kandemir and Lowry–other speakers scheduled to address the convention included Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem– former Turkish ambassador to the US Sukru Elekdag–and renowned historical revisionist Justin McCarthy.
Throughout the demonstration–some 40 ATAA conventioneers joined the Turkish Vice-Consul outside the hotel–observing and photographing the demonstrators. On several occasions–groups of conventioneers made lewd gestures and shouted obscenities in Turkish and English at the demonstrators. The demonstrators responded by shouting louder–with chants such as "You can’t deny the truth," and "Turkey run– Turkey hide–Turkey’s guilty of Genocide!"
Twice during the demonstration–ATAA conventioneers rushed the ANC picket line–unsuccessfully attempting to provoke a violent response from the disciplined demonstrators. After the second attempt–Chicago police called in 12 squad cars–closing off Ohio Avenue and forcing the ATAA conventioneers to back away from the ANC picket lines.
Approximately 30 uniformed and plain-clothed Chicago police and FBI agents ringed the picket line for the remainder of the demonstration to insure that no further altercations took place.
In addition to maintaining a picket outside the convention– demonstrators distributed thousands of leaflets to passersby along Chicago’s prestigious North Michigan Avenue. The leaflets urged people to contact their Senators and Congressman to stop all U.S. aid to Turkey–citing Turkey’s ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide–its atrocious human rights record and its continued occupation of Cyprus.
Inside the hotel–the convention proceedings were also disrupted with as many as a quarter of the ATAA convention attendees outside watching the ANC demonstrators at any given time. During the various convention presentations–speakers focused primarily on defaming the Armenian American community and the demonstrators instead of to sticking to their scheduled topics. Even after the picket was disbanded– speakers such as Justin McCarthy continued to malign the demonstrators.
"We feel we accomplished our goal of providing a realistic alternative to the rosy view of Turkey being portrayed at the convention," commented ANC of Illinois spokesperson Greg Bedian. "We reiterated our message to the Turkish regime and its collaborators that we will not go away and we will not be silent until Turkey admits the Genocide and makes full reparations for the crime of genocide committed against the Armenian nation."