Lakers G Kobe Bryant (above, left) recently inked a 2-year pact to serve as a spokesmodel for Turkish Airlines, the Republic Of Turkey’s state-owned air carrier. AFYwest.org, the Southern California web outlet of the Armenian Youth Federation notes, “as victims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government from 1915-1923, Armenians are angered that Bryant would sign a contract with a country that denies justice to the victims.”
Soon after the announcement of Bryant™s deal, disappointed callers flooded the lines of AM 570, the Laker radio station for over 30 years. Many in the community wonder how Bryant, who plays in a city with such a significant Armenian-American population, can sign a deal with a carrier which represents a country with such a deplorable human rights record.
The AYF urges Kobe Bryant to stay true to his loyal fan base and rescind his contract with Turkish Airlines. The AYF further asks Bryant to put out an official statement affirming his commitment to ending human rights abuses and voicing his support for House Resolution 252, calling on the United States Congress to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide.
œWe ask our community to reach out to Kobe and urge him to speak out about the Armenian Genocide and recognize the wrongdoings of the Turkish government, said Caspar Jivalagian, a member of the AYF. œWhether it is through his Twitter account or by calling local sports talk shows on Fox™s AM570, or ESPN™s AM 710, he really needs to hear from his fans about this ill-advised business agreement.
The United Human Right Council, a grassroots activist group, echoed these concerns, œTurkey has a long history of human rights violations, including the occupation of Northern Cyprus, brutal repression of its Kurdish population, and imprisoning its citizens to suppress free speech. These types of abuses cannot be ignored.
œKobe has a proven track record of aiding various humanitarian efforts, and this is an opportunity for him to become a true œglobal ambassador of truth and publicly speak out about the Armenian Genocide, added Jivalagian.