DID KOBE LIE?
by Allen Yekikan
Thursday, December 16th, 2010
Once A Voice to End Genocide in Darfur, Kobe Bryant Now Promotes
Sudan~Rs Ally in Denial and 20th Century~Rs First Perpetrator of
In 2008, Kobe Bryant was a strong voice calling for an end to the
genocide in Darfur, but today, he has signed a deal to represent the
Republic of Turkey, which denies any genocide in Darfur and is the
infamous perpetrator of the first Genocide of the 20th century.
In May 27, 2008 Bryant made a public service announcement through
the Los Angeles-based non-profit Aid Still Required, urging action
to unite to end the Genocide in Darfur.
~SIn Darfur hundreds of thousands have been murdered, mutilated,
families torn apart. Please take a stand with us. We have the power
to save lives, to restore lives,~T Bryant said in the PSA, published
on Youtube. ~SIf we can unite people, who are willing to take a stand,
miracles can happen.~T
Since 2003, the Sudanese government in Khartoum has slaughtered half
a million people in Darfur, while forcibly uprooting nearly 3 million
more from their homes in February 2003. The Sudanese government,
like the Republic of Turkey, denies it is committing genocide.
Turkey is among Sudan~Rs greatest allies, covering up its genocide and
providing arms to the Sudanese government, led by Omar al-Bashir, who
has been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
In November 2009, Turkey came under intense international criticism
for agreeing to host al-Bashir. Turkey~Rs Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, even defended his ally, refusing to arrest al-Bashir and
denying the genocide in Darfur. According to Erdogan, there was no
genocide raging in Darfur, the international warrant for his arrest
was a ~Smistake,~T and Bashir may simply have only ~Smismanaged
As 2010 comes to an end, Bryant finds himself again in the
headlines over the issue of Genocide. This time, however, not as the
anti-genocide activist he seemed to be in 2008, but as what appears
to be an accomplice to the denial of at least two genocides.
Earlier this week Kobe signed a two-year agreement with Turkey~Rs
national airline carrier to serve as its ~Sglobal ambassador,~T
effectively becoming the face and image of the company and its manager,
the Turkish Republic.
Kobe~Rs decision has caused uproar within the Armenian-American
community in the United States and especially within Southern
California, which boasts the largest population of Armenians outside
of Armenia, ranging between 600,000 to 750,000.
Armenians are angered that Bryant would sign a contract with a country
that not only denies that the Ottoman Turkish government committed
genocide against 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 , but also actively
works to defend modern day perpetrators of the crime.
~SWe don~Rt understand how Kobe could forget about Darfur and overlook
Turkey~Rs gross record on human rights and its complicity and support
for the genocide there,~T said Caspar Jivalagian of the Armenian Youth
Federation. ~SIt is troubling that the very country that perpetrated
the first genocide of the 20th century and actively supports the first
genocide of the 21st century, is now contracting a strong opponent
of the Darfur genocide to represent its global brand.~T
For Jivalagion, Bryant~Rs decision and his complete silence on the
matter sets a very bad example for young fans who ~Slook up to Kobe
both on and off the court.~T
~SKobe is not just a basketball player, he is local, national, and
global a role model with a responsibility to set a positive example to
the millions of people who look up to him and support him,~T Jivalagian
said, adding that Bryant made a poor play by signing a deal with
a Genocide perpetrator after making a video calling for an end to
genocide in Darfur. ~SThis shows a disconnect between Kobe and the
many communities that make up Los Angeles and the Lakers fan base.~T
Armenian Americans hope that Kobe would balance what clearly looks to
be a profitable business deal with a strong moral statement against
Turkey~Rs violations of human rights, including its ongoing denial
of the Armenian Genocide.
~STurkish Airlines is not like United or American~Vit was founded
by the Turkish government, which still owns some 49 percent of the
They are supporters of groups like the American Turkish Council
who lobby against U.S. Affirmation of the Armenian Genocide,~T said
~SKobe is a champion on the basketball court, and we look to him
to be a champion of human rights by speaking truthfully about the
Armenian Genocide, supporting U.S. Congressional passage of the
Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.252) ~V and ultimately dropping
this ill-advised endorsement deal,~T Jivalagian added.
More information about the issue can be found here.
From: A. Papazian