Ruling Against Armenian Groups, France's Highest Court Upholds Law Criminalizing Holocaust Denial

The French Constitutional Council, France’s Highest Court, has upheld the Gayssot Act, a law criminalizing Holocaust denial, rejecting claims that Holocaust denial should be protected free speech. Allying themselves with a known Holocaust denier, French Armenian groups had joined a challenge to the law, maintaining that since the French Court had previously ruled that questioning the Armenian allegation of genocide was a proper exercise of free speech, so should be questioning the Holocaust. In the alternative, the Armenian groups argued that the Holocaust and the alleged Armenian genocide were historical equivalents and, therefore, that denial of both ought to be criminalized. The French Constitutional Council disagreed with the Armenian groups on both counts. The Court emphasized that since the international law had established the Holocaust as a genocide, its denial can be punished. This is in stark contrast to the Armenian allegation, which has never been upheld by a court. The Court enunciated a sensible rule: that an event cannot be considered a genocide unless it is established as such by a court of law and that parliaments or governments cannot declare an event a genocide. TCA concurs that neither politicians nor the media should pre-judge the Armenian case. Rather, the contested events should be freely examined by all historians using all existing historical documents. TCA therefore restates its demand for the opening of Armenian archives in this country and in Armenia.

Turkey Caucus Grows

The Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkey Relations and Turkish Americans reached 152 members with the addition of Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA/4th). Currently, the Turkey Caucus is represented in 43 out of the 50 states and all six of the U.S. territories. The Turkey Caucus is a bi-partisan platform for members of Congress to focus on U.S.-Turkey relations and issues that concern Turkish Americans.

TCA Participates in Meeting on Development Projects in Latin America

On January 14, TCA participated in a meeting with Turkish Embassy officials and Strategies for International Development (SID) to review economic development projects sponsored by the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) for Native American farmers in Central and South America. As the recipient of the TIKA grants for these developmental projects, SID gave a status report. Due to TCA’s initiatives in building bridges between the Turkish and Native American communities, TIKA became interested in sponsoring projects for Native Americans not only in Latin America, but also in the United States.

TCA President Hosts DEIK Chairman for the Americas

TCA President G. Lincoln McCurdy accompanied Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) Chairman of the Americas Aykut Eken to meetings during his visit to Washington, DC. Eken met with a staff member of the Subcommittee on Europe, Asia, and Emerging Threats of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Phil Kosnett, Director of Southern European Affairs at the U.S. Department of State; and Turkey Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY/1st).

Bahcesehir University American Studies Program Visits DC

On January 26, TCA hosted a meeting with students from the American Studies of Program at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul as part of the group’s visit to Washington, DC. TCA gave presentations and answered questions about the U.S. government, civic engagement, congressional caucuses, and TCA programs and activities. On January 27, TCA accompanied the Bahcesehir students on a tour of the U.S. Capitol and facilitated meetings on Capitol Hill with staff members of Turkey Caucus Co-Chairs Congressmen Gerry Connolly (D-VA/11th) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY/1st).

TCA Scholarship Program for Students of Minority and Heritage Communities

One student was selected as a recipient of the TCA Study Abroad Scholarship for Students of Minority and Heritage Communities in January, bringing the total number of scholarship recipients to 470 since the program began in 2008. The program benefits American students of African, Armenian, Bosnian, Filipino, Hispanic, Macedonian, and Native American heritage. Scholarships are awarded to eligible undergraduate and graduate students who have been accepted to a university study abroad or language program in Turkey, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), or Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The student who received a scholarship in January attends American University.

TCA 2016 Turkey Study Tour Grant Applications Open

TCA is pleased to announce that it is accepting applications for the 2016 TCA Turkey Study Tour Grant. Established in 2011, the TCA Turkey Study Tour Grant supports educational travel programs to Turkey by American universities and educational institutions. It subsidizes participation costs for students and provides a general incentive to institutions to choose Turkey as a study tour destination. All applications must follow the proposed letter of intent format, which can be found on the TCA website. Only institutions planning an educational study tour program to Turkey between April 2016 and April 2017 may apply. All applications are due Wednesday, March 23, 2016.

TCA 2016 Summer Internship Program Applications Due

Applications for the 2016 TCA Washington Summer Internship Program were due on Friday, January 29. The TCA Internship Program is open to currently enrolled undergraduate, students, graduate students, and recent graduates of Turkish American heritage. Now in its ninth year, the Internship Program has provided 146 internship opportunities for young Turkish Americans at Congressional offices and nonprofit organizations. Designed to enhance Turkish American participation in political life, the program provides an opportunity for young Turkish Americans to live and work in Washington, DC, learn about the American political process, contribute to U.S.-Turkey relations and the TCA mission, and explore career opportunities in public affairs. TCA also partners with the Atlantic Council to provide Turkish Americans with educational opportunities in global affairs and public policy through TCA Washington Summer internships at the Atlantic Council. The TCA Washington Summer Internship Program lasts up to 10 weeks, between June-August 2016. TCA facilitates the placement of the selected interns and provides a monthly stipend.