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29 February 2008

2369) Turks Who Went To The Congress Like Rain Drops

Raindrop, a Turkish institution, which is active at seven states of the United States of America, expressed the Turkish thesis against the Armenian genocide claim to 62 members and senators of the American Congress.

Sheila Jackson Lee, a senator, who represents Texas at the American Congress, said: “I am a member of the Congress for 12 years. It is the first time that I have met . . with a Turkish delegation.” These Turks, who went to the American Congress, did not only meet with Lee, but they also contacted with 62 members and senators of the American Congress in the name of the Turkish society which is inhabiting at the Southern provinces of the USA.

The name of the institution, which presents its existence at this level in the name of the Turkish society in the United States of America, is “Raindrop Turkish House”. To such an extent that Eddie Bernice Johnson, another Congressman, who represents Texas state, prepared a bill, which appreciates the useful studies and contributions of the Raindrop, towards the Turkish and the American society, and presented it to the House of Representatives, one of the two sections of the Congress, and the bill in question was adopted by the aforementioned House. Moreover, the bill in question has the same power with the genocide bill, which is attempted to be passed by the Armenians for years.

The institution is called “Raindrop”; like drops of rain. These drops of rain have 14 branches at the principal Southern States of the United States of America. Raindrop has a Turkish Culture Center branch in Houston, one of the most important medical centers of the world because of its worldwide famous hospitals; in Dallas, which is known by the Turkish audience with the TV serial Dallas in 1980’s; in New Orleans, where Katrina hurricane killed hundreds of people three years ago; in Little Rock, the province, where former president of USA was born; in Oklahoma City, where a bomb terror incident occurred in 1995 , in which 168 people died and more than 800 people were wounded.

(…) Raindrop volunteers, who inhabite in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Missouri, worked with all their effort, as was done in all the provinces of the USA, against the Armenian genocide bill, which was attempted to be adopted in the American Congress. Turks visited the members of Congress who represent their province in Washington every day during three weeks from the last week of the January until the second week of the February. These seven states are represented at the American Congress with 56 Congressmen. Moreover, each state has two senators. The Turks, who went to Washington, conveyed the opposing views of the Turkish society on the Armenian bill to 62 Congressmen, who are consisted of senators and deputies.

Most of the Congressmen that were contacted stated that satisfying information on the 1915 incidents, which has occurred during the World War I, and is founded on the genocide claim, has not reach to them until the current time. The Congressmen, who expressed that it is the first time that they are having a chance for listening to the Turkish side, said: “It is the first time the Turkish-American society is visiting the Congress and briefing the Congressmen. This is the first time that Turkish society is reacting to the Armenian bill, which is presented to the Congress every year.”

There had been notable dialogues among the meetings of the American Congressmen and the Turkish associations in Washington. Emanuel Cleaver, the deputy from Missouri, who had supported the bill said: “I used to consider the genocide as a historical fact. It is the first time that the thesis of the Turkish side has been seriously presented to me. The Armenian side came and presented the question as a humanitarian issue.” Dennis Moore from Kansas said honestly: “I have made a mistake in signing the bill.” Dan Boren from Oklahoma confessed:” Frankly, I did not know the content of the bill. I signed the bill with the offer of my friends in California. I think this is also true with the other congressmen.”

Indicating that she is a member of the Congress for 12 years and it is the first time that she has met with a Turkish delegation, Sheila Jackson Lee, deputy from Texas and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, stated: “There was no sufficient information from the Turkish side on this issue. I considered genocide as a historical fact. I was evaluating it in the framework of a humanitarian issue. Frankly, I signed the bill without knowing the content of it.” John Boozman from Arkansas said: “Turks from New York came to me but the ones, who came from my own election region has surprised me, and also pleased me. I will vote the bill as ‘No’”.

In fact, the words of Eddie Johnson from Texas, who stated that “The Armenian National Committee" briefs the deputies every year, was briefing everything that has been occurring for years: “Your visit is more influential than a work that would be performed by a lobbying company that would cost for 2 million Dollars.” to the Turkish representatives that visited her in her office. Gene Green from Texas is a congressman who had sent a letter to President Bush and called for the approval of this bill in the previous years. He expressed that his Armenian voters from Houston are constantly in contact with him, and they convey their will each year either with a letter or direct contact, and they move in the direction of their desire: He said: “We have heard nothing from the Turks until the present time. The Turks in Houston should be in action on this issue. I would like to know the dimensions of the Turkish support.”

The Turks, who organized the effort, no doubt, have gained knowledge of reaching the members of Congress in the most effective ways. As a result, at the end of these meetings, four congressmen stated that they will withdraw their signatures. Some of the members of Congress, who can be characterized as Turkish friends, presented significant information on the successive attempts that should be done to prevent the bill.

The attempt that were made to defend the rightness of the Turkish side on these issues until the present day was limited with the activities of lobbying companies that were hired and the letter-fax campaigns intended for protesting or making declarations of some Turkish associations. It is the first time this term that a Turkish society in USA, left their works aside and came to Washington for intensive efforts. This bill has been presented to the Congress for years by the deputies, who are the Armenian voters. The bill has reached to the highest number of support at the American Congress. That’s why; many political observers assumed that this time it would definitely be approved at the Congress.

However, it turned out to be different. The struggle that is given by the Turks, who has volunteered, was reflected to the press conference, which was organized by Adam Schiff, the representative of California State, and his three friends, who had presented the bill to the Congress with the signature of 176 representatives of the Congress. During the press conference two Turks asked the following question to Schiff and his three friends: “Did you know that the Foreign Minister and the Ambassador of the United States of America were Armenian origins during the time when genocide was claimed to be committed? Did you know that relocation was not applied to any of the Armenian origin Ottoman citizens, who inhibited at the West of Anatolia and it included only the ones, who revolted in the East, the Armenian citizens, who attempted fight against the Ottoman army under the Russian and French uniforms? At the present time, where the Middle East enjoys political turmoil and disturbances, do you believe that the United States of America, needs the friendship of Turkey, which has the strongest democratic more than ever? Do you think that discussing these issues at the American Senate can raise difficulties on the relations? While the Bolsheviks were to invade a part of USA and Russian origin American citizens were to support this move from inside, how would you evaluate this?”

Adam Schiff, the architect of the bill, and his friends answered the questions of Turks as following: “There were no Turks during our discussions at the Foreign Affairs Commission. There was only a telephone call. Your written documents have not arrived to the commission. You are not discussing the issue on the scientific base, you are just avoiding with a telephone call. Your Prime Minister is calling Bush. Your officers are calling our officers. There were members, who supported the Turkish side at the Commission. However, we convinced them with the documents and evidences.”

Raindrop in Dallas has signed a symposium may be for the first time in the USA organized by the Turks. The opening speech of the meeting entitled “Turkish-Armenian Dialogue Conference” at Southern Methodist University in Dallas on April 14, 2007, was delivered by Turkish Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan. Prior to his speech, he was protested by 4-5 Armenian youth, who are the members of Armenian National Committee (ANCA). However, Mutafyan had not done a speech to deserve that. On 20 April 2006, he had made a statement almost at the same content: According to the book of historian Yeğişe, who talked about the Iran-Armenian War, Turks and Armenians met about 1500 years ago, and physical violence in their relation is relatively few. The strategist, who incite the young generations against each other are committing sins.” Mutafyan opposes the genocide bill for he believes that it will have negative effect on the Turkish-Armenian relations, which lies beneath the anger towards the Patriarch.

However, even that, was enough for the Armenians to go crazy. When New York Armenian Archbishop Khajag Barsamian warned to “withdraw their support” with the letter he sent to the University, Jim Caswell, the deputy Rector of the University had to clarify that they have withdrawn their support. The University hosted the conference with the motive of “freedom of thought”; nevertheless, did not support the conference officially against these pressures.
In fact, the Turks, who had organized the meeting, had invited the Armenian academicians to present their announcements four months ago. A couple of them responded the call; but, none of them attended the conference. Gerard Libaridian, who was one of the names that was invited to the conference said: “They invited me as well. I could not attend the conference for I was having a surgery. The meeting was not a monologue. The Armenian academicians were also invited to the conference.” The Turks had even suggested the provocateurs, who shouted at Mutafyan, “to make a speech if they have something to announce, or else not to disturb the peace of the program”. As their intention was something else, they could not accept the offer that was presented to them, and they left the hall. Some Armenians, who attended the meeting, despite these protesters said: “We thought the meeting was in guidance of the Turkish government. But, it was not so. If we had done the meeting together, then the Armenian historians would also attend.” It seems that the continuation of these meeting would have repercussions.

It is not so easy to organize meetings of these kinds in the USA. As a matter of fact, a similar meeting, which was desired to be organized by the Turkish Embassy in Los Angles, was sabotaged. When some Armenian groups threatened to organize a march against a meeting that would be organized in Dallas, Turks retaliated by saying: “So, we will organize a march as well.” Then they gave up. Nevertheless, the same groups cancelled Mesrob Mutafyan’s speech entitled “The Dilemma among Turks and Armenians should be Passed Over”, which was due to be delivered in Washington at Georgetown University on 20 September 2007. Harut Sassounian, the owner of the California Courier claimed that “the secret hand” of the Turkish government was behind Mutafyan’s speech. America Armenian National Committee (ANCA) was indicating that Turkey was attempting to prevent the Armenian genocide bill, which is attempted to be passed from the USA Congress.

No doubt that the Turks in the USA need years for reaching to an influential points. As a matter of fact, Alp Aslandoğan, who is one of the Turks, who has been living in America for 17 years and who attends the activities of Raindrop said: “It is a long term business for the Turkish society to express herself. And it should not be limited with the Armenian bill. There is only one Armenian origin person in the American Congress. There are a lot of mistakes in the past of Turkey. She has always been in contact with the Republicans, and neglected the Democrats. For instance; there is dominantly Republican Party in Texas. Also, permanency at the relations is important.” Aslandoğan indicated: “Genocide is presented to the black origin members of Congress, which are attempted to be directed by the Armenians, as a humanitarian issue, which is similar to the instance of suppression of the black people, and it is also stated to some members of the Congress as: “The historians have detected the genocide; there is no more discussion over it. So, do pass this bill.”

Source: Zaman Daily Newspaper-15.01.2008

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