For Immediate Release
Contact: Doug Geogerian
tel: (917) 428-1918
String of Articles in Massachusetts Newspapers Slam Lawsuit Filed by Assembly of Turkish American Associations
ANC Eastern Regional Chairman Dikran Kaligian and Former State Senator Warren Tolman Lambast Turkey's Attempt to Corrupt Public Education
NOTE TO THE EDITOR: Below find the text of an Op-Ed article that was published in the December 9, 2005 issue of the Boston Herald. It was authored by ANCA Eastern US Chairman Dikran Kaligian and former Massachusetts State Senator Warren Tolman. Tolman was an original author of legislation, which called for students in Massachusetts to learn about the Armenian Genocide. The piece responds to a lawsuit that tries to have federal courts force Massachusetts to legitimize denial of the Armenian Genocide in its state curriculum guide. The piece appears five days after the Boston Globe published an Op-Ed by author Peter Balakian and Gregory Stanton, vice-president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, who explained the baseless and morally bankrupt nature of the lawsuit. ANC Eastern Regional Board Member George Aghjayan wrote about the lawsuit the following day in The Worcester Telegraph and Gazette. The lawsuit’s lead plaintiff is the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), which is the Turkish government’s main proxy for pressuring U.S. governmental offices, media outlets and academic institutions to deny the Armenian Genocide.
Kaligian and Tolman conclude their Op-Ed by writing, “The education of our students is too important for it to be distorted by a foreign government using American courts to clean up its bloody history. Just as we would not allow teaching by those who would deny the Holocaust, we must not allow teaching by those who would deny or somehow forget the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians.”
In their December 4 piece in the Boston Globe, Balakian and Stanton write, “The Board of Education’s decision to drop Turkish websites from a curriculum aimed at teaching about genocide was a corrective to an egregious situation in which a foreign government managed to intervene (with the help of the ATAA) to insert historical falsehoods in a Massachusetts curriculum…The politics are transparent; the intellectual discourse on the Armenian Genocide is the result of mainstream, international scholarship over many decades, while Turkey’s denial is the product of its government and a few scholars who work with it.”
In The Worcester Telegraph and Gazette on December 5, George Aghjayan wrote, “For nine decades, the Turkish government has actively pursued a campaign of denying the Armenian Genocide. Hundreds of books, articles and Web sites exist, sponsored by the Turkish government, just as hundreds of similar books and Web sites deny the Jewish Holocaust. Our Constitution allows these books to be printed and Web sites to exist, regardless of how racist and repulsive the information contained within may be. However, the First Amendment does not require government to endorse such views.”
AS PRINTED IN THE BOSTON HERALD
It’s elementary: Turks committed genocide
By Warren Tolman and Dikran Kaligian
Friday, December 9, 2005
The recent lawsuit challenging the teaching of the Armenian Genocide as genocide purports to be a defense of First Amendment rights. What it actually is, despite all protestations to the contrary, is yet another attempt by the Republic of Turkey to distort history, this time in the
curriculum of Massachusetts public schools.
The Turkish government has spent millions of dollars and the better part of 90 years denying that the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey committed genocide by murdering over 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. It has endowed chairs at Princeton and Georgetown, and has convinced defense contractors and other U.S. companies doing business in Turkey to lobby Congress to defeat any bill mentioning the Armenian Genocide.
Today, despite majority support in the U.S. House and a 40-7 vote in the House International Relations Committee, Speaker Dennis Hastert refuses to schedule a vote on an Armenian Genocide resolution. However, the House has already gone on record calling the Turkish actions genocide in 1975, 1984 and 1996. The European Parliament and 15 other countries have done the same.
Thirty-eight states have recognized the Armenian Genocide. Because it has consistently lost in the political arena, Turkey has opened up a new front in the federal courts. This lawsuit was initiated by the Assembly of Turkish American Associations, an organization founded and funded by Turkey to act as its proxy in this country. It has attacked a curriculum guide prepared by the state Department of Education after the Legislature unanimously voted for a law requiring that cases of genocide and human rights violations — including the Armenian Genocide, the Great Hunger in Ireland, the slave trade and the Holocaust — be taught.
This lawsuit attempts to create the impression of a “controversy” among historians over the events of 1915. This controversy has been wholly concocted by Turkey and its PR firms.
For decades, Turkey, despite having one of the world’s worst human rights records (including systematic torture and repression of Kurds) has used its strategic and geographic position to try to force other nations to accept its distorted version of the history of 1915-1923.
Turkey is trying to gloss over the worst parts of its record in order to gain acceptance to the European Union. Because the European Parliament has decided that it should not be admitted until it accepts responsibility for the Armenian Genocide, Turkey must resort to lawsuits and compromised scholarship.
Before World War II, Hitler, when pressed on whether he could pursue his plan for exterminating Jews, rhetorically asked: “After all, who remembers the Armenians?”
The education of our students is too important for it to be distorted by a foreign government using American courts to clean up its bloody history. Just as we would not allow teaching by those who would deny the Holocaust, we must not allow teaching by those who would deny or somehow forget the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians.
Warren Tolman is a former state senator and an author of the genocide legislation.
Dikran Kaligian is chairman of the Armenian National Committee for the Eastern US.