Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th St., NW, Suite 904
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: (202) 775-1918
Fax: (202) 775-5648
E-mail: [email protected]
Internet: www.anca.org

PRESS RELEASE

October 6, 2004
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Tel: (202) 775-1918

REP. PALLONE CALLS ON SECRETARY OF STATE TO PROTEST TURKISH
LAW CRIMINALIZING DISCUSSION OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

WASHINGTON, DC - Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank
Pallone (D-NJ) this week called upon Secretary of State Colin
Powell to formally protest Turkey's adoption of a new penal code
that criminalizes even the discussion of the Armenian Genocide,
reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Section 306 of new Turkish penal code provides for prison sentences
of between three and ten years for remarks concerning the facts of
the Armenian Genocide or the withdrawal of Turkish occupation
forces from Cyprus. In his letter, Congressman Pallone noted that
this action represents a "hardening [of Turkey's] anti-Armenian
stance and undermines hopes for a reduction of tensions in the
region."

Commenting specifically regarding the Administration's opposition
to the Genocide Resolution (H.Res.193 and S.Res.164), Rep. Pallone
said, "We have been told, recently and in the past, that the State
Department and the Administration have fought so strenuously
against this legislation, because its adoption would somehow harm
progress in the region toward the normalization of ties between
these two states. This line of reasoning is, in my view, deeply
flawed. However, if the State Department were to seriously rely on
this argument concerning improved Turkey-Armenia relations, it
would stand to reason that the State Department should also
publicly and privately condemn Turkey's patently hateful
codification of its official campaign to deny the Armenian
Genocide."

"Armenian Americans, having endured years of attacks on efforts to
recognize the Armenian Genocide, remain profoundly troubled by the
hypocrisy of a State Department that never hesitates to openly
protest - and strenuously work against - legislation before
Congress commemorating this crime, yet seems perpetually unable to
summon the will to utter even a single word of concern regarding
Turkey's hateful and shameless campaign of genocide denial," said
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

The full text of Congressman Pallone's letter is provided below.

#####

October 1, 2004

Secretary Colin Powell
U.S. Department of State
2201 C St, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Powell,

I write to you today to bring your attention to a recent troubling
development in Turkey. Just this past week, Turkey adopted a new
penal code that represents a dramatic display of the Turkish
government's campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide and further
inhibit a resolution to the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus.
This new criminal code not only hinders improved relations between
the Republic of Armenia and Turkey, but it is also an imprudent
step on the part of a nation that is desperately trying to
establish an image of having a free and democratic society.

Section 306 of this new criminal code would punish individual
Turkish citizens or groups that confirm the fact of the Armenian
Genocide in Ottoman Turkey or call for the end of the Turkish
occupation of Northern Cyprus- with up to ten years in prison. Far
from coming to terms with the Genocide or reaching out to Armenia-
Turkey, in adopting Section 306 of its new penal code, is hardening
its anti-Armenian stance and undermining hopes for a reduction of
tensions in the region.

I would like, for a moment, to discuss why I consider it important
that the State Department not remain silent in the face of this
extremely troubling restriction on freedom of expression mandated
by a NATO ally. In the past, when the State Department has spoken
out against an Armenian Genocide Resolution, it has argued that
such legislation would not contribute to improved Turkish-Armenian
relations. We have been told, recently and in the past, that the
State Department and the Administration have fought so strenuously
against this legislation, because its adoption would somehow harm
progress in the region toward the normalization of ties between
these two states.

This line of reasoning is, in my view, deeply flawed. However, if
the State Department were to seriously rely on this argument
concerning improved Turkey-Armenia relations, it would stand to
reason that the State Department should also publicly and privately
condemn Turkey's patently hateful codification of its official
campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide, the most recent attempt
being in the form of a repressive and unjustified new criminal
code.

Section 306 of the new criminal code does nothing to remove
barriers to bilateral cooperation and lower the level of distrust
and tension in this critically important region. I urge you and
the State Department to condemn this oppressive provision in the
criminal code and do everything that is in your power to ensure
that the government of Turkey, our NATO ally- cease to inhibit the
rights of its citizens; remove its troops from Northern Cyprus;
come to terms with its own history; and finally start living up to
the expectations that the United States has of free and democratic
nations.

Sincerely,

[signed]
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress