Friday, March 24, 2006

Turkish Defense Minister Protest

So today there was a protest at the Beverley Hills Hotel, who under the Los Angeles World Affairs Council invited the Turkish defense minister, Vecdi Gonul. The protest was put on by the AYF, and there were up to 150 people outside. Protests don't appeal to me too much, I rather find a better way of being productive, so I decided to purchase a ticket and see the guy speak. The Beverley Hills Hotel was very nice, the food interesting, but most of all the people were really worth shoving the 55 bucks to get in. There are a lot of professionals that attend these events, and I ended up schmoozing on behalf of my fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Omega (Armenian fraternity). However, there were a lot of Turks in the crowd, including our table.

The minister was a so-so speaker, his english wasn't too good and his style was dull. He talked about Turkey's position in Eurasia and it's relationship with the United States, European Union, etc.. He outlined major points of Turkish policy that mirror American foreign policy (coincidence?). So anyways, on to the good part.. the question and answer session. The first person to ask a quesiton on the Genocide was actually an American lady (I had a brief but pleasant conversation withe her outside, really impressed me about how much she knew about the denial). The defense minister replied in the usual Turkish propaganda about denying the genocide and eventually one Armenian in the crowd yelled out "liar" and walked out. On the after the speech.. the protest..

Ok, so when I arrived there were about 100-150 protesters but when I came out the number dropped to around 30-50. I was talking with them, briefing them on what happened, and a thought occured to me, why weren't these protesters inside? In fact, why weren't a lot of Armenians inside? There only by my count 7 Armenians hearing the minister speak, while 100 of them outside. Wouldn't it have been more productive for the AYF to have purchased tickets and take people inside? I was a bit disappointed by the low number of Armenians inside the building, but this disappointment grew to a bit of frustration when I realized that so many Armenians came to just.... yell outside? Instead, they could have stared denial right in the face and hammered the minister with questions.

8 comments:

Tania said...

Levon,

You were not outside, I was. There was at least a 1,000 people outside. I spoke to the police who made the count, and they confirmed that minimum 800-1,000 were outside. By the time you came out, the buses had left, and the only people left at that time were the AYF monitors that did not have to leave with the buses. Basically those that had to clean up. The protest had ended already.

During the protest, we were not allowed to go into even the grass area of the hotel, because that was considered Hotel property, and not public, and there was security and police all around to make sure that I did not step out of the sidewalk, and I got yelled at several times for stepping into even the parking lot, which was considered Hotel property.

And as for why there weren't many Armenians inside. I totally agree that there should have been more, in fact, I would of loved it if the whole room was packed with Armenians, though you know if that happened the Minister would of probably canceled the event. This is why they most probably pre-sold most of the tickets to Turks, to prevent a room full of Armenians. However, I feel that if you went inside, it should of been for a purpose, not to just sit there and listen to the guys lies. You should of asked the tough questions, and kept insisting and putting pressure on the guy. Showed some signs of protest inside the room.

Now, if you're asking me, do we need a better way of "protesting"? I will agree that we need to come up with new and fresh ideas. And, that is up to us to do, we should not sit here and criticize each other, but become proactive.

Levon said...

Tania it was very difficult to ask the guy a question since there were a lot of other people there and limited time for the question section. As for being reserved, there were 2-4 tables reserved for turkish councils, and at least 10 in total. I doubt that they would have cancelled the event, but even if they did it would have been great, armenians putting pressure and not having the guy speak. I was surprised that there were even two questions on the armenians since there were only 7 armenians there (by my count... there could have been more) and one of the questions was asked by an american lady. We could have definitely used more armenians in the room. Bringing signs into a speech would have been impossible due to the tight security. An opportunity was missed, yes I am criticizing but that's because I went there and participated and got a first hand look at what could have been better, I'm not sitting at home and doing nothing about it.

Arman said...

Levon is right Tania.
See you ask for fresh ideas of protest right? Well what can be any fresher than buying out the majority of the tickets and when he cancels, as you said, we would come out on the winning side. If he had enough balls and did not cancel, then we would have bombarded them with questions. WIN WIN situation and a fresh way of protesting.

chris said...

no mention of me being there with you levon, also you should have wrote about the old couple outside, when you told them about the genocide and the turk from the mit, turkish "cia". turned around and walked when confronted by the truth.

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