Turks living in the United States sent 1,000 letters to a parole board to oppose parole for Hampig Sassounian, an Armenian terrorist convicted of killing a Turkish diplomat in 1982.
Sassounian gunned down Turkey's Los Angeles Consul General Kemal Arıkan on Jan. 28, 1982, while the diplomat was waiting at a red light in the Westwood area of Los Angeles. He was a member of the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide (JCAG), an Armenian terrorist group that targeted Turkish diplomats in the 1970s and 1980s in revenge for what they call the genocide of Armenians during the last years of the Ottoman Empire.
Günay Evinch, head of the Turkish-American National Steering Committee (TASC), which is one of the non-profits behind the campaign against parole for Sassounian, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that convicts were eligible for a parole hearing every 18 months. He said a parole hearing for Sassounian was scheduled for June 29. "Turkish society here is very sensitive about this matter. We believe we will be influential [for denial of parole]," Evinch said, adding that the case will ultimately will be decided by the California governor. Gov. Jerry Brown has rejected previous pleas for parole. He now has six months to approve or reject any verdict by the board. Brown has said that he believed Sassounian would be "an unreasonable danger to society if released." Sassounian was originally sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole; however, he became eligible for parole after admitting his guilt and formally apologizing in 2002. Previous demands by Sassounian were rejected by parole boards in 2006, 2010, 2013 and 2015.
Between 1973 and 1993, a total of 33 Turkish diplomats, employees and families based at Turkish diplomatic missions abroad were murdered by Armenian terrorist groups, with the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) being the most infamous one. The ARA, previously known as JCAG, was affiliated with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF-Dashnaktsutyun), a political party dating back to the early 20th century that still operates in Armenia. These militant groups, cooperating with each other and other terrorist groups despite differing in ideology, were mainly based in civil-war-torn Lebanon, from where Sassounian's family emigrated to the U.S. Armenian terrorist groups also targeted civilians in various attacks, including the 1982 Ankara Esenboğa Airport attack, which killed nine, and the 1983 Paris Orly Airport attack, which killed eight.