Kurdish Activist to Keynote Evening of Tribute to Turkey’s Heroes of Conscience

UHRC ‘Opposite of Silence’ to Spotlight Growing Resistance to Oppression in Turkey

LOS ANGELES–The United Human Rights Council (UHRC) on Friday, January 15, will pay tribute to the activists of Turkey who have been targeted, harassed and even murdered for their efforts to advance Kurdish human rights, Armenian Genocide recognition, and freedom of speech and equality. The event, titled “The Opposite of Silence”, will feature a blend of art, music, video and speeches. It will begin at 8:00pm at The Glendale Armenian Youth Center, located at 211 West Chestnut St. Glendale CA 91204 (Behind St. Mary’s church).

The program’s keynote speaker, Kani Xulam of the American Kurdish Information Network, will discuss the ongoing plight of Turkey’s 30 million Kurds and their decade’s long struggle for liberation against Turkish oppression. The evening will also feature musical performances from Raffi and the Palm of Granite, slam poetry by Armen Soudjian and others. Socially conscious art by Ani Ishkhanian, Cynthia Kossayan, and Gayaneh Novshadian will also be on display.

“Xulam’s appearance will be all the more relevant considering the current conditions of Kurds in Turkey. We see the same oppressive practices of rounding up political leaders, violently crushing demonstrations and choking free speech that have marred recent Turkish history. Oppressed minorities such as Kurds and Armenians must work in concert to show Turkey’s true nature as a brutal occupier and violator of human rights,” said UHRC Director Sanan Shirinian.

The event will coincide with the third anniversary of the assassination of Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink. Charged, on more than one occasion, with the crime of insulting “Turkishness” under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, Hrant Dink was a champion of truth in a country plagued by denial and repression. He used his pen to speak out against the denial of the Armenian genocide. A firm believer in free speech, Dink was shot to death at the doorstep of his office in Istanbul on January 19, 2007.

This year the program will be spotlighting the injustices of the Turkish government and how Article 301, despite Dink’s murder, continues to promote an atmosphere of intolerance and prejudice, denying the citizens of Turkey their fundamental rights to free speech and truth.

Enacted in 2005, Article 301 of the Turkish penal code has made it illegal for any citizen or resident of Turkey to give credence to the Armenian genocide. Numerous journalists and scholars have been prosecuted for “denigrating Turkishness” under that statute, beginning with Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, who was charged for stating, “A million Armenia’s were killed in these lands.” Dink, himself, was prosecuted three times for criticizing the Turkish government’s longstanding policy of denying the Armenian genocide.

“Hrant Dink, Eren Keskin, Ayse Gunaysu, Akin Birdal and Leyla Zana are just a few of the many brave individuals in Turkey who have been targeted by the state and ultranationalist groups for their dedicated work in advancing freedom of speech and respect for human rights in urkey,” said Shirinian. “There’s a growing wave of dissent against injustice inside Turkey as more and more people begin to question and counter the official facts dictated to them about the Armenians and Kurds and it’s our responsibility to stand in solidarity with this budding free speech movement.”

The United Human Rights Council is a committee of the Armenian Youth Federation. By means of action on a grassroots level, it works toward correcting and exposing the human rights violations of governments that distort, deny, and delude history to disguise past and present genocides, massacres, and human rights violations. For more information about the Opposite of Silence or on the activities and mission of the UHRC, contact uhrc@ayfwest.org


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  1. Araxi said:

    … and turkey wants to become an EU member?  The Europeans should be aware of the rise of modern day ottomas. Erdogan is openly advocating the return of the ’empire’.
    Is the world going to shut up and allow theses murderers to go unpunished and commit genocide again and again? One wonders if oil has turned the leaders of the world deaf and blind!
    Oil is their salvation.

  2. dario said:

    nothing wrong with Turkish ottoman models as long as it is implimented in a way that comply with today’s standard,..but the world should not stay silent and not allow turkish murderers to go unpunished . one Turkey cleard the mess they should be allowed in Europe like other eastern european countries.

  3. KurdishPeaceLover said:

    Asbarez, thank you for all the great information and news you are publishing.
    Azat Ankhat Hayastan

  4. sami said:

    A visit from the Armenian President  to Baghdad and Northern Iraq will add pressure on the Turkish side

  5. Frank said:

    If Asbarez can give one page to the Kurds on each issue  that would be a nice jesture.

  6. Burak said:

    I think there is a big wrong with Turkey’s desire that is establishing ottoman model beacuse that directly implies they are not going to give right to other people who believe different religion or who come from different nation. I am telling these things because i know their political strategies. for instance, they are trying to solve Kurdish problem besides that they are still continuing to kill Kurds and as soon as they hear something about Kurdish Language and they totally  change and forget everything about solving problems.moreover, they deny their faults. recently, Kurdish legal political party(DTP) has been banned, even though  many Kurds have declared this party is our voice in council i mean a lot of Kurdish people believe DTP represents their rights in Turkish political area. anyway, i just want to say that if  Turkey wants to be one of the members of EU, firstly has to recognize and accept its faults such as Armenian genocide and massacres and then should solve Kurdish problem in amicable ways,for example,  with giving their rights and without making any mistake that have been done before.
    I am wishing just like every  Kurdish people that Turkey is going to be a country that everybody is happy and doesn’t complain about war, repudiation etc.

  7. Roj said:

    Turkey deny Armenian Genocide strongly…and the genocide continue till this moment of minorties specially kurds and Armenian ,and others,,,,,but unfortunately EU,USA and UN silent ,why?where is Human Right?