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

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

GRASSROOTS PRESSURE BUILDING FOR
CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ON EVANS FIRING

-- 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 www.anca.org - 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
tragedies."

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
Bush.

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.