March 28, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel: (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell

SENATE PANEL ADOPTS BIDEN RESOLUTION HONORING HRANT DINK

Legislation Calls for Repeal of Article 301

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE) with ANCA Government and Legislative Affairs Directors Kate Nahapetian and Raffi KarakashianWASHINGTON, DC – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today adopted human rights legislation, authored by the panel’s chairman and presidential candidate, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), condemning the murder of journalist and human rights activist Hrant Dink and calling on the Turkish government to repeal the law, Article 301, under which he was prosecuted, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The measure was adopted unanimously by voice vote at today’s meeting of the Committee. At its last meeting, on March 6th, the panel, at the request of its Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN), had deferred consideration of the legislation for three weeks. During this time, the measure came under heavy attack from both the Turkish government and its allies in the Administration. Despite their efforts to cut any reference to the Armenian Genocide, the resolution noted Dink’s persecution because of his speech on the Genocide.

The legislation condemns Hrant Dink’s murder as “a shameful act of cowardice perpetrated with contempt for law, justice, and decency,” and honors his commitment to “democratic values, non-violence, and media freedom.” It specifically notes that he was “subjected to legal action under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for referring to the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide.” It also calls on the Turkish government to repeal this anti-free speech law and “work diligently to foster a more open intellectual environment.”

“We want to thank Chairman Biden for his leadership in honoring Hrant Dink’s memory by urging the Turkish government to repeal Article 301 – the law under which he was prosecuted,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Article 301, and others on the books in Turkey, reflect and encourage the environment of hatred and intolerance that the Turkish government has long fostered against Armenians – particularly those who speak truthfully about the Armenian Genocide.”

“We were, of course, troubled by the Turkish Government and State Department’s shameless opposition to this resolution condemning the murder of Hrant Dink,” added Hamparian. “We look forward to working with Chairman Biden in the coming weeks toward the adoption of the Armenian Genocide resolution and in sending a clear signal that genocide denial will not be tolerated by the U.S. Congress or the American people.”

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) with ANCA Legislative Affairs Director Raffi KarakashianThe Armenian Genocide resolution (S.Res.106) was introduced by Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator John Ensign (R-NV) and currently has 25 cosponsors. Its companion bill in the House, H.Res.106, introduced by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), George Radanovich (R-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), currently has over 180 cosponsors.

In the days leading up to today’s vote, ANCA activists in the twenty-one states with Senators on the Committee encouraged support for S.Res.65 through phone calls, faxes, and meetings. They also reminded Senate offices that Hrant Dink’s brutal murder is a wake up call for the U.S. Senate to pass S.Res.106.

Hrant Dink, editor of the bilingual Armenian/Turkish “Agos” newspaper, was gunned down outside his office in Istanbul on January 19th – sparking worldwide protests and renewed scrutiny of Turkey’s repression of free speech and international campaign of Armenian Genocide denial.

The version of S.Res. 65 adopted today was an amended version of the text initially introduced by Senator Biden. The original version included a more direct reference to the Armenian Genocide and a more pointed mention of Turkey’s responsibility for its blockade and refusal to normalize relations with Armenia. The State Department and Turkish government, despite their aggressive lobbying, were unsuccessful in removing reference to the Armenian Genocide from the resolution. Similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House by Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY).

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