May 22, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC – The Turkish Government has dramatically escalated its official campaign of genocide denial, requiring, at the direction of its Education Minister Huseyin Celik, that all students in Turkish schools be taught to deny the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“We have shared news of this development with the State Department and explained the urgent need for our government to immediately protest this policy directly to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “It is absolutely disgraceful for Turkey to seek to poison its school children with its hateful message of genocide denial.”

Local community activists have already begun registering their views to Secretary of State Colin Powell by sending a free ANCA WebMail urging him to protest Turkey’s extension of its denial campaign to its public schools.

The Turkish newspaper “Cumhurriyet” and articles in several Armenian language newspapers printed in Turkey, have revealed that Minister Celik issued a decree on April 14th stating that all schools must utilize their resources to combat “Armenian claims,” as well as deny that the Turkish government ordered actions against the Greek and Assyrian minorities in the early part of the 20th century. School administrators have been asked to bring in “experts” regarding the “Armenian allegations,” trained to deny the facts of the Armenian Genocide at special conferences hosted at Turkish universities. Students will be tested on the course material at the end of each term.

The Turkish daily “Hurriyet” also reported that Minister Celik is also calling on school administrators to arrange essay contests on the theme that the “so called Genocide allegations of the Armenians are groundless.” The article notes that several Turkish intellectuals and the Turkish Human Rights Advocates have issued a statement according to which “They are against efforts to contaminate their children with the seeds of hatred and they are also against the use of youngsters for propaganda purposes.”

Even prior to becoming Education Minister, Celik had established a long record of Armenian Genocide denial. In January of 2001, Celik served as part of a delegation of Turkish parliamentarians that traveled to France to lobby French government officials to oppose a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The resolution was signed into law later that month.

In a recently published article titled “A History Profile,” in the National Education Ministry’s publication, “Education in the Light of Science and Wisdom,” Celik dismissed the murder of over 1.5 million Armenians with the following phrase: “Upon betrayal of rebellious Armenians who collaborated with the enemy, the Ottoman State was obliged to take a decision on May 27th, 1915 on relocation of the Armenian population from the war zone to southern regions of the Empire for the safety of the army and its supply routes.”


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 * Email.anca@anca.org
Your generosity empowers our advocacy, inspires our work, and sustains our momentum.