11 February 2008
2330) Action Alert: Toronto District School Board STILL Considering An Armenian Genocide Claims Course If You Do Not Act Now
The Toronto District School Board is still considering whether it will adopt a course teaching Armenian genocide claims to Toronto's 11th Graders.
Below is a sample letter to voice your objection to the course. Turks everywhere are asked to email the letter to the Canadian Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Ontario Deputy. Their email addresses are:
1. Prime Minister Stephen Harper
2. Minister of Defense Peter MacKay
3. You can email Deputy Dalton McGuinty (Toronto - Ontario) through the form You do not need to fill out the form with your contact information to send your email.
You need to include your email address for a reply. . .
RE: Course CHG38M (Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications) Under Consideration by the Toronto District School Board
To the Honorable Prime Minister Stephen Harper;
The Honorable Minister of Defence Peter MacKay; and
The Honorable Premier Dalton McGuinty:
I write to express grave concern about the Armenian Module of Course CHG38M under consideration by the Toronto District School Board. The way that module was developed and its contents evidence the intent to promote the vilification of people associated with a specific nation of origin, not to develop a course with academic merit. The Armenian module should therefore be replaced.
Course CHG38M intends to teach about genocides through three examples from the 20th Century: the Holocaust, Rwanda and the 1915 Ottoman-Armenian tragedy of WWI. While the Holocaust and events in Rwanda have been recognized by the United Nations as genocides, the events of 1915 have not. In fact, British tribunals formed in Malta after WWI to try Ottoman officials for war crimes failed to uncover evidence supporting any such charges.
In addition, renowned academicians, only some of which include Gunter Lewy, Stanford Shaw, Bernard Lewis, Norman Stone, David Fromken, Michael Gunter, Pierre Oberling, Heath Lowry, Avigdor Levy and Justin McCarthy, have published accurate disinterested accounts of the civil and ethnic strife of 1915 despite repeated harassment and violence by the Armenian community. Nevertheless, in the hopes of material gain in the form of land and money, special interest groups continue to dispute characterization of the events of 1915 (see www.turkishweekly.net/news.php?id=51247 ("[The Armenian parliament] prepared a bill of 14.5 billion USD regarding the incidents of 1915"); www.armtown.com/news/en/azg/20071214/2007121401/ ("The Armenian Cause is not about genocide recognition, but the pursuit of … reparations.")).
Forged documents, false references and that Armenia continues to conceal archives concerning the activities of Armenian revolutionaries in the Ottoman Empire before and during WWI complicate resolution of the issue. Expert historians investigating the matter have concluded telegrams expressly ordering annihilation of Armenians attributed to Ottoman rulers are forgeries and claims that Hitler referenced the Armenian tragedy to justify the Holocaust are false (see e.g., Gunter Lewy, The Armenian Massacres in ottoman Turkey, A Disputed Genocide, pp. 64-73; Erich Feigl, A Myth of Terror (Ed. zeitgeschichten-Freilassing- Salzburg 1991); Michael M. Gunter, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Aug. 1989), pp. 419-422). Yet, these still form the basis for Armenian genocide claims, while Armenian sources evidencing that the tragedy of 1915 occurred due to civil war and ethnic strife are ignored (see e.g., The Manifesto of Hovhannes Katchaznouni First Prime Minister of the Independent Armenian Republic; K. S. Papazian, Patriotism Perverted (Boston, Baikar Press 1934) ("A discussion of the deeds and the misdeeds of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the so-called Dashnagtzoutune")).
In addition, CHG38M's Armenian module was developed in secret for over two years, without notice to, or input from, Canadian citizens in the Turkish community in violation of the Ministry of Education's policy and procedures for locally developed course material. Canadians in the Turkish community first learned about CHG38M in November 2007 due only to an unusual coincidence. Although excluded from the development of the course for two and a half years, when the Toronto District School Board met on January 16, 2008, only two Canadians from the Turkish community were allowed to speak for five minutes each, in contrast to five proponents of CHG38M. From all appearances, it seems Canadians of Turkish origin are being deliberately disenfranchised from the process.
Furthermore, during its meeting, the Board took irrelevant and historically inaccurate statements from MP Jim Karygiannis, who made reference to population exchanges between Turkey and Greece, claimed Hitler based the Holocaust on the Armenian tragedy, that Turks committed a genocide against Greeks, killed his family because they were Greek and burned "Smyrna," and based these statements on intentionally vague references to the Internet.
As noted above, the Hitler claim is baseless, and Greece's unprovoked 1919 invasion of western Anatolia and population exchanges Turkey and Greece agreed to undertake by treaty after 1923 are wholly irrelevant to the events of 1915. That time was spared to take irrelevant and historically false information about unrelated events from one who is neither an expert, nor possesses knowledge related to the issue in dispute, while the community excluded from the development of CHG38M for two years was only allowed to present ten minutes of material, raises additional troubling questions concerning the motive for including the Armenian module in CHG38M.
Its proponents claim the motive for developing CHG38M is to eliminate the impetus for genocide. There can be no better goal than to promote unity, tolerance and acceptance among people of different races, ethnic backgrounds or religions. However, the motive CHG38M's proponents allege is not supported by (i) the covert manner in which the Armenian module was developed; (ii) that it was not prepared based on a critical analysis of the objectives of Ottoman Armenian revolutionaries or events taking place before and during WWI; (iii) is contrary to, and ignores the work of, expert academicians; (iv) is based upon and/or contains selectively referenced content that is either false, or war time propaganda, published to establish a rationale for entering, and to motivate the Entente powers' reluctant public to engage in, WWI.
Rather, the conduct of CHG38M's proponents suggests that the Armenian Module was developed as a tool to use Toronto's education system and its students to promote the desire of one ethnic community to stigmatize and vilify another less politically connected one. That is undemocratic, divisive and the antithesis of what, and how, we should teach impressionable young adults.
I urge you to (i) encourage the Toronto School District Board to replace the Armenian module in CHG38M with the study of an indisputably uncontested genocide, such as that of the Cambodians, and (ii) to reiterate Canada's support for, and again encourage Armenia to accept, Turkey's proposal for a joint historical study of the events of 1915.
To Dave Rowan, Associate Director
Nadine Segal, Superintendent
Toronto District School Board
I write to you as the author of several well-known books on the role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and the fate of the Gypsies and American Indians. My study of the mass killing of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, published by the University of Utah Press in 2005 as The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide, began as part of a comparative study of genocide. The fact that I left Nazi Germany as a Jewish boy of fifteen is probably one of the reasons why I have been drawn to the study of genocide, a phenomenon of modern times that unfortunately is not limited to the Holocaust.
I commend the Toronto District School Board for its decision to organize a course on "Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications, " however it is my considered judgment that the inclusion of the tragic fate of the Armenian community during World War I is a mistake.
According to the Genocide Convention of 1948, intent is a necessary condition of genocide, and most other definitions of this crime of crimes similarly insist upon the centrality of malicious intent. Hence the crucial question in this controversy is not the huge loss of life in and by itself but rather whether the Young Turk regime intentionally sought the deaths that we know to have occurred. Both sides agree that several hundred thousand men, women and children were forced from their homes, and during a harrowing trek over mountains and through deserts uncounted multitudes died of starvation and disease or were murdered. To the victims it makes no difference whether they met their death as a result of a carefully planned scheme of annihilation, in consequence of a panicky reaction to a misjudged threat, or for any other reason. It does make a difference for the accuracy of the historical record, not to mention the future of Turkish-Armenian relations.
Armenians and their supporters concede the absence of Turkish documentary evidence to prove the responsibility of the Ottoman government for the massacres, but cite the reports of foreign diplomats and missionaries on the scene. Given the large number of deaths and the observed complicity of local officials in the murders, it is not surprising that not a few of these witnesses concluded that the high death toll was an intended outcome of the deportation process. Still, well-informed as many foreign observers were about the events unfolding before their eyes, their insight into the mindset and the real intentions of the government in Istanbul was necessarily limited. Indeed, to this day the inner workings of the Young Turk regime, and especially the role of the triumvirate of Enver, Talaat, and Djemal, are understood only very inadequately.
Many Turks, too, misread the historical record. Quasi-official historians speak of "so-called massacres" or blame the deaths on starvation and disease that are said to have afflicted a far larger numbers of Turks. And yet there exists an important difference between deaths lost as a result of natural causes such as famine and epidemics, blows of fortune that afflicted Muslims and Christians alike, and deaths due to deliberate killing. It is undeniable that thousands of Armenians died at the hands of their corrupt escorts and the Kurdish tribesmen who occupied their route southward to Ottoman Syria.
I spent many months studying this sad episode in the archives of the German Foreign Ministry, the Public Record Office in London , and the National Archives in Washington , and I immersed myself in the published recollections of survivors and other eye-witnesses. It was and remains my conclusion that the relocation of the Armenian community of Anatolia to the interior of the Ottoman Empire involved a badly mismanaged war-time security measure, aimed at denying support to Armenian guerilla bands and to remove the Armenians from the war zones. This relocation took place at a time of serious military setbacks for the Ottoman regime while well-armed Armenian guerillas were cutting roads and lines of communication in the rear of the Turkish army. Henry Morgenthau, the American ambassador in Constantinople , reported to Washington on May 25, 1915 that nobody put the Armenian guerillas "at less than 10,000, and 25,000 is probably closer to the truth." After World War I had ended, Boghos Nubar, the head of the Armenian delegation, proudly told the Paris Peace Conference that his people had played a crucial role in the war and that the Turks had devastated the Armenians "in retaliation for our unflagging devotion to the cause of the Allies." Hence callous and brutal as was the expulsion policy of the Ottoman government, it can hardly be called unprovoked.
Many aspects of the relocation process contradict the idea of a premeditated program of extermination and hence genocide:
The large Armenian communities of Constantinople , Smyrna and Aleppo were not relocated and survived the war largely intact. These exemptions are analogous to Hitler failing to include the Jews of Berlin, Cologne and Munich in the Final Solution.
The relocation experienced much variation that depended on geography and the attitude of local officials. In many places Protestant and Catholic Armenians as well as needed artisans were exempted. The same goes for the large number of Armenians who often were allowed, or even forced, to convert. In the absence of a large Kurdish population, no massacres took place in Cilicia , and a substantial part of the exiles sent to Southern Syria and Palestine survived.
While some respected historians call these events the first genocide of the twentieth century, other historians, including distinguished scholars of Ottoman history such as Bernard Lewis, Roderic Davison, and Andrew Mango, while not questioning the horrible events that transpired, have raised doubts about the appropriateness of the genocide label for the occurrences of 1915/16. It is thus simply wrong to assert that the Armenian genocide is an "incontestable historical fact."
Since we are dealing here with a genuine historical controversy, in my view the Armenian massacres do not belong in a high school teaching unit on genocide. Apart from the Holocaust, the 20th century provides other well-established instances of genocide, and it therefore should not be difficult to substitute another calamity such as, for example, the Cambodian genocide. If you do decide to reaffirm the inclusion of the Armenian massacres as a case of genocide, the unit, at the very least, should include references to the many scholarly works that challenge the genocide thesis.
Very sincerely yours,
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
University of Massachusetts/ Amherst
16 January 2008 - TDSB - Program Committee Deputations
in opposition and in favour of the course CHG38M (Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications)
While the citizens concerned about the course material were granted only two deputations, the group in favour of the course was granted four deputations (five speakers). TDSB is informed of our disappointment about this imbalance. Turkish Community was not heard for 2.5 years, this was Turkish Community's first chance to be heard. It would have given TDSB officials a much-needed fair and just image. While it is unfortunate that the Program committee missed this opportunity to display their commitment to equality, we are hopeful that fairness and balance will prevail in the review committee.
Videos of the entire session :
I:Speeches by Lale Eskicioglu and Prof. Dr. Ozay Mehmet
II:Speeches in favour of the course by Leo Adler, Aris Babikian, Prof. Frank Chalk, and MP Jim Karygiannis
III:Fourth speech in favour of the course by David Warner and closing remarks by TDSB
Please contrast what you see in the videos with what is written in the Press Release (at the bottom of the page) by Armenian National Committee of Canada, titled Turkish Ultranationalists Try to Silence Prominent Canadians.
Notice how the Turkish Community members are portrayed as Turkish Ultranationalists (not Canadians) while the members of the Armenian Community and their supporters are Canadians.
Excerpts from Armenian Lobby's Press Release:
* Turkish Ultranationalists Try to Silence Prominent Canadians — We are Canadians of Turkish descent and we are not Turkish Ultranationalists
* The Turkish Government's propaganda machine tried to — Neither the Turkish Government nor any kind of propaganda was present at the meeting. We talked on behalf of Turkish Canadians and other concerned Canadian citizens.
* tried to intimidate and silence — Nobody was intimidated or silenced, on the contrary, Armenian group had 5 speakers while Turkish Canadians had only 2 speakers. Please watch the videos very carefully, because if you blink, you may miss the intimidation and silencing claimed by the following press release.
* Turkish representatives — Should read Canadian or Turkish-Canadians, because we weren't just off the plane from Turkey, hence "Turkish representatives" is false, we are Canadians who live and work in Canada.
* Ozay Mehmet — That's Professor Emeritus Ozay Mehmet.
* ultranationalist Turks hackled the speakers and tried to stop them from speaking — there were no ultranationalist Turks, please watch the videos to judge for yourself about the hackling.
Enough examples. If Armenian National Committee of Canada can blatantly falsify and misrepresent the events of a public meeting that took place only a few days ago, then imagine how they would narrate the events that happened more than 90 years ago. Judge for yourself.
We feel that the claims in this press release are ridiculous. Please write to us (CTC at TurkishCanadians.com) if you agree with us that this is a divisive, incorrect and racist message, the kind that proves the Turkish Community's claims that they are not considered real Canadians, they are branded as Turkish Ultranationalists and portrayed as second-class citizens.
Full Text of ANCC's (Armenian National Committee of Canada) Press Release:
Turkish Ultranationalists Try to Silence Prominent Canadians
* From: ANCC National Office firstname.lastname@example.org
* Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2008
Armenian National Committee of Canada
Contact: Kevork Manguelian
Turkish Ultranationalists Try to Silence Prominent Canadians
Toronto-The Turkish Government's propaganda machine tried to intimidate and silence many prominent Canadians who had come forth to make deputations during the monthly meeting of the Toronto District School Board's (TDSB) program and services committee.
During the Jan. 16 meeting the TDSB committee provided an opportunity to two Turkish representatives (Ozay Mehmet of the Council of Turkish Canadians, and Lale Eskicioglu) and four Canadians (Prof. Frank Chalk, director of the Montrééal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies; David Warner, former Speaker of the Ontario Legislative Assembly; Leo Adler, prominent criminal lawyer and human rights advocate; and Hon. Jim Karygiannis, MP) to present their points of view on the board's Grad 11 'Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications' curriculum.
The Turkish representatives protested the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the curriculum. The prominent Canadians' group praised the TDSB for its moral fortitude, vision, and commitment to develop such a timely curriculum and asked for the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the curriculum.
Mr. Warner read a letter signed by prominent Canadians from all walks of life, urging the TDSB to "stand firm by its decision and not to be swayed by politically-motivated pressure groups." Among the signatories were Stephen Lewis, Gerald Caplan, Jack Layton, Bob Rae, Joy Kogawa, Amir Hassanpour, Jacques Kornberg.
During the presentations of Chalk, Warner, Adler and Karygiannis, ultranationalist Turks hackled the speakers and tried to stop them from speaking. Several times committee chair, trustee Chris Bolton, was forced to call for order and ask the Turkish representatives not to disrupt the meeting.
After the meeting, members of the Turkish group approached some of the pro-Genocide inclusion speakers and taunted them with abuse and profanities. The scene was reminiscent of the trials of many righteous Turkish individuals who in recent years have challenged the Turkish Government on its denial of the Armenian Genocide and have been silenced under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code.
At the meeting, Aris Babikian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, tabled a petition in support of the curriculum. The petition carried 2,643 signatures. Among the signatories were many teachers from the TDSB system.
For the past two years the TDSB has been developing 'Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications' curriculum for Grade 11 students. The course comprises of three genocide case studies: the Armenian Genocide; the Holocaust; the Rwandan Genocide, in addition to other cases of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
The course has been approved by the Ontario Minister of Education. An overwhelming majority of principals, teachers and program directors have commended the TDSB for this timely project. They have also indicated that they are eager to teach the program.
In the last two months the Turkish denial machine has launched a vicious campaign of falsehood, misrepresentation, unsubstantiated accusations, innuendo and revisionist historical discourse to persuade the TDSB to remove the Armenian Genocide from the curriculum.
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues.