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ANCA: Grassroots Pressure Building for Congr Hearing on Evans Firing

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  • ANCA: Grassroots Pressure Building for Congr Hearing on Evans Firing

    Armenian National Committee of America
    1711 N Street NW
    Washington, DC 20036
    Tel: (202) 775-1918
    Fax: (202) 775-5648
    E-mail: [email protected]

    May 31, 2006
    Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
    Tel: (202) 775-1918


    -- Armenian American Activists Sending ANCA
    WebFaxes to their Members of Congress

    -- Tens of Thousands in Armenia Participate in
    "Yellow Ribbon" Campaign to Protest Evans Firing

    WASHINGTON, DC - Tens of thousands of Armenians - in the United
    States and Armenia - have voiced their outrage over the
    Administration's firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Marshall
    Evans, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

    In Armenia, tens of thousands of Armenians took part in the "Yellow
    Ribbon Campaign" to protest the Evans firing and, more broadly, to
    voice opposition to a number of recent instances in which foreign
    diplomats stationed in Armenia have denied the Armenian Genocide.
    The campaign, which took place at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial to
    the Armenian Genocide in Yerevan, started on April 24th with
    countless thousands of individual Armenians each tying a single
    yellow ribbons on 100-yard lengths of rope stretched along the
    walking path leading to the Genocide Monument.

    In the United States, Armenian American activists have called for
    Congressional hearings into the Government of Turkey's role in
    dismissal of this highly-respected 35-year Foreign Service veteran
    over his honest and accurate description of the Armenian Genocide
    as a clear case of genocide. The ANCA WebFax system - on the web
    at - has been used by activists from throughout the
    United States - including a large number from state and districts
    represented by Members of committees with oversight responsibility
    of the State Department. In their WebFaxes, these concerned
    citizens have stressed that: "Ambassador Evans is, in effect, being
    punished for honoring his President's pledge to properly recognize
    the Armenian Genocide - a promise that George W. Bush made on the
    campaign trail in February of 2000 but abandoned once in the White
    House. Ambassador Evans should be praised, not dismissed, for
    rejecting "gag-rules" imposed by the Turkish Government on the
    discussion of the Armenian Genocide by America's leaders at home
    and diplomats abroad."

    In demanding hearings on the Evans firing, the WebFaxers note that
    these inquiries should "include testimony by all the key figures
    involved, including the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and
    National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. Among the issues that
    should be explored are the role of the Turkish Government in
    exporting its suppression of speech to the United States and the
    implications for the future of the Foreign Service if a senior
    American diplomat's career has been ended simply for acknowledging
    the historical record on one of the world's greatest human rights

    Commenting on the lack of openness by the Administration in dealing
    with this matter, the WebFax letters note that, "the Administration
    has lacked the courage to speak honestly - either to Congress or
    the American people - about its reasons for firing Ambassador
    Evans. Hopefully, these hearings will provide the transparency
    that we, as citizens, have the right to expect of our government."

    The firing of Amb. Evans was the result of his February 2005
    statements at Armenian American community functions characterizing
    the Armenian Genocide as a genocide. Following his statements,
    Amb. Evans was forced to issue a statement clarifying that his
    references to the Armenian Genocide were his personal views and did
    not represent a change in US policy. He subsequently issued a
    correction to this statement, replacing a reference to the genocide
    with the word "tragedy."

    The American Foreign Service Association, which had planned to
    honor Amb. Evans with the "Christian A. Herter Award," recognizing
    creative thinking and intellectual courage within the Foreign
    Service, reportedly rescinded the award following pressure from the
    State Department a few days before Turkish Prime Minister Recep
    Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Washington, DC to meet with President

    Congressional Response:

    On the eve of the announcement of Evans' replacement, sixty Members
    of Congress, led by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), sent a letter to
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking for clarification of the
    reasons behind Amb. Evans' recall. Earlier, Congressional Armenian
    Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and
    Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) had each officially called on
    Secretary Rice for a clarification of the State Department's
    position on this issue. They have yet to receive any response to
    their inquiries.

    Media Response:

    The Los Angeles Times, in a strongly worded March 22nd editorial,
    made direct reference to Amb. Evans' impending dismissal, calling
    on the Turkish Government and U.S. State Department to end their
    policies of Armenian Genocide denial.

    On March 24th, the Fresno Bee, published a similarly strong
    editorial condemning Evans' firing. The Washington Times, on May
    26th, ran a story about the "geopolitical firestorm" created by
    Evans' remarks.

    The publisher of the California Courier, Harut Sassounian, in his
    weekly column, urged U.S. Senators to place a "hold" on the
    nomination of Richard Hoagland, the diplomat slated to replace
    Ambassador Evans. This action in response to the Administration's
    unresponsiveness, argued Sassounian, will force the White House to
    fully explain the reasons behind its early termination of
    Ambassador Evans' career.

    Armenian Youth Response:

    At the Armenian Youth Federation Junior Educational Seminar, held
    in Western Pennsylvania over the Memorial Day weekend, over 400
    young Armenian Americans designed, produced, and signed original
    petitions protesting the Administration's decision to fire Amb.
    Evans for telling the truth about the Armenian Genocide.