January 27, 1973 – Santa Barbara, California
Turkish Consul General
Turkish Vice Consul
On January 27, 1973, Armenian American extremist, Gourgen Yanikian, assassinated the Los Angeles Turkish Consul General Mehmet Baydar and Vice Consul Bahadir Demir, after inviting the Turkish diplomats to his hotel suite to present the Turkish Government with gifts. Soon after killing the diplomats, Yanikian surrendered to police, was tried in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Santa Barbara, was convicted of first-degree murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Ten years later, California Governor George Deukmejian, who was of Armenian descent, ordered the release of Yanikian, who died of natural causes soon thereafter. The Armenian Reporter, commemorated Yanikian, declaring that he had “opened [a] new era of political struggle” and “changed the course of Armenian history.
The Yanikian murders were the start of modern day Armenian terrorism by the Armenian terrorist organizations, Marxist ASALA and neo-fascist JCAG. To date, ASALA and JCAG, have carried out over 300 terror attacks, mostly bombings in public areas, and hate crimes against people of Turkish heritage. ASALA and JCAG have claimed responsibility for the deaths of more than 77 people, including Americans; woundings of over 700 people, mostly non-Turks; and billions of dollars of property damage worldwide. In the 1980s, Turkish and Israeli intelligence cooperated to uproot Armenian terrorists in Lebanon’s Syrian-occupied Bekaa Valley.
January 28, 1982 – Los Angeles, California
Turkish Consul General
On January 28, 1982, two Armenian gunmen assassinated Turkish Consul General, Kemal Arikan, in his automobile while waiting at an intersection. JCAG claimed responsibility. One of the assassins, Hampig Sassounian, a 19-year-old Armenian American member of the JCAG, was arrested shortly thereafter. Sassounian’s father stated on public television, “I am glad that a Turk was killed, but my son did not do it.” Sassounian’s accomplice, believed to be Krikor Saliba, escaped to Beirut. Los Angeles police searched Sassounian’s automobile and seized a .357 caliber bullet and a one-way airline ticket from Los Angeles to Beirut. Police also searched Sassounian’s home, where they seized a gun receipt, pistol targets, and a manifesto of “The Armenian Youth Federation.” Although Sassounian pleaded not guilty, the Court convicted him of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Sassounian’s sentence was later changed to 25 years-life in an appeal agreement in which he finally confessed to the killing.
The Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) condemns these acts of violence against innocent individuals and remembers these tragedies with great sorrow and deliberation to bring the perpetrators and their supporters to justice.