For Immediate Release (# 55)

Contact: Kani Xulam: 202.483.6444

April 30, 2001

At about noon hour today, three Turkish speaking males approached the ongoing Kurdish Vigil at the “Cell of Atonement” in Sheridan Park and after engaging in a verbal exchange threatened to be back tonight to “dismantle it.”

A group of Kurds and their American friends have been keeping a silent vigil for the last 57 days in a replica of Turkish prison cell, “Cell of Atonement”, across from the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC, to highlight and effect the freedom of four Kurdish parliamentarians who have been imprisoned for the last seven years and 57 days.

The above referenced individuals first wanted to know who had given us the permit to engage in “anti Turkey” activities. They then demanded to see our permit. When confronted with the question of their own identity, they said, “We are from the Park Police.”

When they were asked to show their own identification papers, they engaged in some obscenities and threatened to be back tonight to “dismantle it”.

The Park Police were immediately contacted and the incident was recorded.

“This Vigil is not anti-Turkey,” said Kani Xulam, one of the organizers of the “Cell of Atonement”. Our most prominent sign is a mural of scenery from Kurdistan with the following caption: “Turkey, Catch up with the World; Free the Kurds”.

“If Turkey frees its Kurds, it will also free itself from the burden of oppressing them. This is the only way onward and upward for a country that wants to remain competitive in the world. Any other course will retard Turkey and doom its future,” added Mr. Xulam.