AVIM Commentary: Defending Ataturk, Defending Free Speech

AVIM Commentary: Defending Ataturk, Defending Free Speech

The Center for Eurasian Research Studies (AVIM) will be partnering with TASC to inform the public regarding political, economic and security issues in eastern Europe, Caucuses, Central Asia, and Middle East. TASC will publish commentaries of AVIM regarding the impact of these issues in the United States. This TASC issue features the commentary of Dr. Turgut Kerem Tuncel, “Lessons to be Learned from the November 10 Events in California”, which discusses radicalization of Armenian youth and the chilling effect on freedom of speech on campuses in California. On November 10, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), the youth branch of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation political party, attempted to disrupt an American Turkish Association of Southern California (ATASC) event at California State University Northridge (CSUN). The ATASC event included a lecture by Professor George W. Gawrych regarding the reforms of the first president of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Having failed to intimidate the CSUN administration into banning ATASC’s First Amendment event, the AYF resorted but failed in its intimidation tactics against Professor Gawrych and the audience. 

Dr. Tuncel’s commentary comes as two commissioners of the California Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) recently decided to release Hampig “Harry” Sassounian, a Justice Commandos terrorist who was convicted of assassinating the Turkish Counsel General of Los Angeles, Kemal Arikan, in 1982. Sassounian has been serving a life sentence for his act of terrorism. Sassounian admitted to assassinating Consul General Arikan because of his Turkish identity and because he disagreed with Mr. Arikan’s perspective on the events of 1915. Sassounian’s assassination was a hate crime combined with an extreme assault on freedom of speech. Over the years, Sassounian has received strong support from the AYF, of which he was a member when he assassinated Mr. Arikan. Sassounian’s provisional parole is under review by the Director of Parole Hearings, and possibly by the California Governor, as federal and state authorities investigate the decision of the BPH commissioners. To read Dr. Tuncel’s commentary, please visit: http://avim.org.tr/en/Yorum/LESSONS-TO-BE-LEARNED-FROM-THE-10-NOVEMBER-EVENTS-IN-CALIFORNIA

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