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      PBS Acknowledges Armenian Genocide...

PBS Acknowledges Armenian Genocide...   16/02/2006

PBS Acknowledges Armenian Genocide In Response to Petition and E-mails

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

Several positive developments have taken place since my last week’s column calling for the boycott of those PBS stations that would air a debate on the Armenian Genocide immediately after the broadcast of Andrew Goldberg’s documentary, The Armenian Genocide, on April 17.

First, a couple of individuals under the name "Armenian Tidorts" initiated a petition, http://www.PetitionOnline.com/pbspanel/petition.html, asking everyone who is against "the debating of the Armenian Genocide with Genocide deniers and giving deniers equal air time," to sign it. In just a few days, more than 3,500 individuals of various nationalities from 55 countries (as of Monday night) have signed this petition which is being sent to Jacoba Atlas, the Senior Vice President of PBS Programming, urging her "not to approve the airing of the panel discussion" after the documentary. The petition is still on-going with more signatures pouring in every hour from around the world!

Second, many individuals have sent e-mails to Jacoba Atlas (Jatlas@PBS.org), urging her to cancel the panel discussion. In its response to these e-mails, PBS stated for the first time that it acknowledges the Armenian Genocide. PBS said that Goldberg’s documentary "features extensive never-before-seen footage and shares one of the largely untold stories of the 20th century, detailing what happened and why. The documentary also explains why, to this day, the Turkish government denies that the Armenian genocide took place. PBS is proud to air this film. The panel you mention was not designed to be a forum for those who deny genocide took place. We, like the majority of historians, nations and news organizations, accept that it did."

Third, several PBS stations have already indicated that while they would be broadcasting the Armenian Genocide documentary on April 17, they would not be airing the offensive follow-up panel discussion that includes genocide deniers Justin McCarthy and Omer Turan.

In view of these significant positive developments in just a few short days, I encourage everyone to continue pressing PBS to do the right thing and not to cave in to Turkish pressures. The above results indicate how sensitive PBS is to viewers’ comments, especially to those who support PBS stations financially.

For those who think that a call to boycott PBS is an attempt to stifle free speech, I would say that there would not be a boycott if PBS would cancel its plans to air the insulting panel discussion. Furthermore, calling for such a boycott is exercising one’s right in a free society to decide whether to watch or contribute to a particular TV station. On the contrary, remaining silent in the face of one-sided pressure on PBS by the Turkish government would be going along with Turkey’s offensive efforts to bury or tarnish the truth.

There is no question that the truth about the Armenian Genocide would prevail in any confrontation with the deniers and liars. Since the panel discussion was pre-taped last week, we have been reliably informed that Professors Balakian and Akcam dealt a devastating blow to the baseless arguments of denialists McCarthy and Turan. But that is not the issue. The Turkish deniers win even when they do not win the debate. All they have to do is show up on a panel and make it appear to the unsuspecting American public that there are "two sides" to this "controversial" story! This is not simply an academic exercise. For those who think that a debate on the Armenian Genocide would help educate the Turkish public, we agree. The place to do that is on Turkish TV. There are plenty of Turkish scholars now who are very knowledgeable about the facts of the Armenian Genocide and can handily debate Turkish deniers in Turkey, if only the government would allow such a thing. However, there is no need for a debate on the veracity of the Armenian Genocide on American TV. There are no two sides to the genocide which is a well established fact confirmed by the overwhelming majority of genocide and holocaust scholars, scores of parliaments, international organizations, and the archives of many countries. It is grossly offensive to the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and their descendants that PBS would schedule a debate on April 17, just a few days before the 91st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide!

Until PBS announces its decision to cancel the airing of the panel discussion after the broadcast of the Armenian Genocide documentary, I urge everyone to sign the petition currently circulated, http://www.PetitionOnline.com/pbspanel/petition.html. Clicking on this link would also reveal the names as well as the number of those who have already signed the petition. Also, send an e-mail to Jacoba Atlas, the Senior Vice President of PBS Programming, to protest her plans to air an offensive and unnecessary debate on the Armenian Genocide with the participation of notorious genocide deniers. Her e-mail address is: Jatlas@PBS.org


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