March 4, 2011 - 10:57 AMT 06:57 GMT

As Kobe Bryant prepares to celebrate his endorsement deal with Turkish
Airlines at a Paramount Studios launch party, the Armenian Youth
Federation calls on Kobe to recognize and understand the ramifications
of becoming the face of the state-run airline and to take steps to
correct this lapse in judgment.

"The Republic of Turkey, which runs Turkish Airlines, has attempted
to mollify international condemnation of its human rights record
through thinly-veiled public relations ploys. These gimmicks, which
include abusing the reputation of athletes and stars and employing
multi-million dollar political lobbyists, cannot hide Turkey's contempt
for the rights of its citizens and for its own history," the AYF said.

"Turkey uses brutal violence against its Kurdish minority, whose
demonstrations have been crushed time and time again. Furthermore,
Turkey continues to repress free speech and arrests journalists. Just
last year, the Turkish government offered refuge to Sudanese President
Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for
charges of Genocide. Most shameful is Turkey's decades-long attempts
to distort and deny the Armenian genocide. A few months ago, Turkish
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was the 2010 recipient of
the Muammar Gaddafi prize for human rights, threatened to deport the
remaining Armenians from Turkey.

Recently, celebrity entertainers including Beyonce Knowles, Mariah
Carey, 50 Cent, and others have come under public scrutiny for
accepting large cash payouts for performing at lavish parties hosted
by the family of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Following Gaddafi's
brutal crackdown on protesters, which resulted in the deaths of more
than 1,000 demonstrators, demands surfaced for music stars to admit
to accepting money from the regime and for them to donate the same
amount to charity.

Last week Nelly Furtado tweeted that she would be donating the one
million dollars she received, and representatives for Beyonce have
released a statement declaring that all monies she accepted from the
Gaddafi family were donated to Haitian earthquake relief efforts.

This highlights the increasing need for celebrities and public figures
to be sensitive and act with the utmost prudence and responsibility
when sponsoring or endorsing products and events. The status
of celebrity in today's world goes far beyond dollar signs and
necessitates accountability and understanding.

We are deeply saddened by Kobe Bryant's dismissive attitude toward the
concerns of thousands of his fans. His silence has been deafening. We
believe that Mr. Bryant's sole concern off the court is not just to
make money; rather we hope that he recognizes his role in world as an
ambassador of humanity, not of Turkish Airlines. We ask Kobe Bryant
to use this unique opportunity to act as a responsible and dignified
public figure and to donate the proceeds from his deal with the
state-run Turkish Airlines to genocide and human rights education
and awareness programs such as The Genocide Education Project,"
the Federation said, Asbarez.com reported.

From: A. Papazian