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THE ARMENIAN PATRIARCH AND THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN THE US

Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
27 September 2007 - ERAREN
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!ßõ  ellspacing="0" ceÿ$ :THE ARMENIAN PATRIARCH AND THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN THE US_

The conference of the Armenian Patriarch Mutafyan, which was scheduled to be held in Georgetown University in Washington entitled “the impass between Turks and Armenians must be broken”, has been cancelled due to pressure by some extremist Armenians living in this country.

Àst Armenians living in this country.

Who exactly hindered Mutafyan’s conference, for which reason and how did they do it?

The Tashnaks prevented the conference. This group is well known for its fanaticism not only in the ranks of the Diaspora but also in Armenia. It disrupts any view or idea which does not combine with theirs’. In this respect, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), as a Tashnak organization issued a letter to all congressmen depicting the Patriarch as being constantly under the pressure of the Turkish Government, allegedly tantalizing anybody who speaks freely about human rights. ANCA pretends that the Patriarch is a hostage, only allowed to follow the official views.

The reason for the Tashnaks being against Mutafyan lies in the account that the Patriarch does not follow their fanatic views. But what annoys the Tashnaks most is that Mutafyan declared being against the House of Representatives Resolution 106, which is expected to be passed almost certainly. Obviously, such an important Armenian figure as the patriarch being against this resolution is regarded likely to harm it.

The Patriarch stated that Georgetown University cancelled the conference on the grounds of “security”; as the Armenians might organize a demonstration. Unfortunately this justification is groundless, because everybody knows that the Armenians always try to disrupt any organization which represents a different view then theirs’. For this reason, the University, which invited the Patriarch, should have done everything necessary to hold the conference and counter the manifestation with it’s own means or with the help of the security forces. As the University did not do anything for the conference to be hold, we should conclude that it did not act honestly.

The most crucial point in canceling the conference is that freedom of speech was violated. It is quite interesting that such a violation occurred in a country which claims to be the champion of freedoms and that Georgetown University was not criticized for its act. This leads us to think that freedom of speech in the US is not compulsory but a flexible principle changeable due to conditions.

Hereby, it is noteworthy to remind to our readers that, when Mr. Gündüz Aktan and I visited the US last year in March to give a series of conferences dealing with the Armenian Question, these conferences were also under the risk of being canceled. As a matter of fact the conference in the University of Southern California, despite being announced and its invitation been sent, was indeed canceled due to a threatening letter sent by the Armenians.   

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