AHI Initiates Grass Roots Campaigns
Actions to Stop Attack Copters to Turkey
On May 2, 2000, the AHI sent an Action Alert to its members and friends nationwide urging them to mount a grass roots campaign to block Turkey's efforts to buy 145 Cobra attack helicopters from the American company Bell-Textron by calling on President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright to deny an export license for the arms deal.
AHI joins Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Federation of American Scientists, the Armenian American community and many others in voicing their opposition to the sale.
The action alert notes with alarm that Turkey has illegally used American weapons, particularly Cobra helicopters, against Kurdish civilians during its 16-year war against its Kurdish minority in Southeast Turkey. In its 16-year war against its Kurdish minority, the Turkish military's failure to distinguish between civilian and military targets has resulted in the destruction of over 2,000 ethnic Kurdish villages, the displacement of over 2,500,000 ethnic Kurds and the killing by the Turkish military of over 30,000 civilian Kurds.
The alert also exposes the State Department's plan to issue an export license despite stating in 1998 that it would condition such approval on Turkey meeting eight human rights benchmarks. According to the State Department's own 2000 Human Rights Report on Turkey, Ankara has failed to meet these criteria.
"The Greek American community must act to stop the $4 billion sale of Cobra attack helicopters to Turkey as it is damaging to American interests and values," stated Nick Larigakis, Executive Director of AHI. He also stated that "AHI has initiated this nationwide effort to protest this unconscionable deal. To be successful requires all Greek Americans to contact President Clinton, Secretary of State Albright and Members of Congress."
The alert specifically asks people to take the following actions:
Action 1: Call and write to President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stating your strong opposition to this arms deal and urge them not to grant an export license to Turkey.
Action 2: Contact your congressional representatives and senators stating your strong opposition and urging them to inform the White House and State Department that they oppose this sale as against the best interests and values of the United States.
Action 3: Contact Vice President Gore's national security advisor Leon Fuerth and Governor Bush's foreign affairs advisor, Condaleeza Rice and urge them to oppose this sale because it threatens American values and interests.
The action alert supplies contact information, sample letters and telephone talking points to use in correspondence with these officials.
Actions to Counter Pro-Turkish Letter in Congress
On April 27, 2000 the American Hellenic Institute sent a letterto four Members of Congress protesting their "Dear Colleague" letter of April 14, 2000 urging support for Turkey during its presidential deliberations. Congressmen Norman Dicks (D-WA), Sonny Callahan (R-AL), Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Doug Bereuter (R-NE) sent the letter to their fellow members, urging them to join in signing a letter to President Clinton to "encourage the administration to remain proactive during this critical phase of our relationship with this partner."
The AHI letter cited "serious errors of fact and omissions of fact" and further urged the four members to withdraw their letter based on these factual errors. AHI noted the letter's reference to "several important business decisions," which clearly alluded to Turkey's pending decision to purchase 145 attack helicopters from the American company Bell-Textron. AHI, along with a number of human rights organizations, has denounced this potential sale in light of Turkey's ongoing illegal use of American in its scorched-earth campaign against its Kurdish minority and its intransigence on the issue of Cyprus.
The AHI letter also countered assertions made in the "Dear Colleague" document that Turkey is "on the verge of entry into the European Union." AHI asserted that the conditional candidate status the EU offered Turkey at its December 1999 Helsinki Summit lays out strict conditions Ankara must fulfill by 2004 before accession negotiations can even start. These conditions include far-reaching constitutional, economic and domestic reforms and a commitment by Turkey to take its unilateral claims against Greek sovereign territory in the Aegean to the International Court of Justice at The Hague and to settle the Cyprus problem.
AHI expressed its belief that only the "right pressure, in accordance with our American values, will bring about the changes necessary in Turkey's constitution and institutions." The full text of the letteris available on AHI's website at www.ahiworld.org.
AHI Initiates Grass Roots Campaigns Actions to Stop Attack Copters to Turkey