March 4, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC – In it most recent instance of complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, the State Department’s annual human rights report on Turkey, released last week, used the phrase “the alleged genocide of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire” in describing the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee Of America (ANCA).

In recent years, the State Department has, in many cases, stepped back from its post-1982 policy of explicitly calling into question the reality of the Armenian Genocide. Instead, State Department documents have typically made use of evasive or euphemistic terminology, and State Department officials have opposed efforts to commemorate or recognize this crime on the grounds that they would complicate U.S.-Turkish or, more recently, Armenian-Turkish relations. This year’s human rights report represents a break with this pattern.

The following two sections appeared in the “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2003: Turkey,” released by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor on February 25, 2004:

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

In June, authorities arrested and indicted teacher Hulya Akpinar for comments she made during a conference in Kilis Province on the alleged genocide of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire. Prosecutors also charged six other teachers for following Akpinar out of the conference. Akpinar was temporarily dismissed from duty following her arrest. A Kilis court acquitted Akpinar and the other six teachers in December.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Disability, Language, or Social Status

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

In April, the Education Ministry issued a circular urging all schools to have their fifth and seventh graders prepare a one-page essay arguing that allegations that the Ottomans committed genocide against Armenians “baseless.” The country’s Armenian schools were included in the distribution. Leaders of the ethnic Armenian community criticized the measure, saying it put psychological pressure on Armenian students. The Ministry also asked schools to organize conferences on the issue, and police arrested seven teachers for comments made at one such conference (see Section 2.a.).

Click here for the full report on human rights in Turkey can be found at:

“We are profoundly troubled by the State Department’s use, once again, of the modifier ‘alleged’ to describe the Armenian Genocide,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. There is, very simply, no historical basis for such a description.”

“While we were pleased that the State Department report did note the Turkish Education Minister’s decree forcing students to deny the Armenian Genocide, we remain troubled by the long-standing absence of any formal, public U.S. government protest against what is, by an measure, a hateful policy aimed at perpetuating Turkey’s policy of genocide denial into the coming generation.”

In a related initiative, the ANCA has organized opposition to the State Department’s webpage on Armenian history, which fails to make any mention of the Armenian Genocide. The ANCA, in an action alert, has made the point that this glaring error represents a serious disservice to all those who turn to the State Department for an accurate understanding of Armenia and the surrounding region. The alert includes a draft letter to Margaret DeBardeleben Tutwiler, the State Department’s Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

Click here to view the State Department’s profile of Armenia.

The ANCA alert can be viewed here.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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