2583) Email To & From ABC TV Australia: Family Footsteps: Ref: H Blackley

----- Original Message -----
From: Harry Blackley
To: ***@abc.net.au
Sent: September 07, 2008
Subject: Family Footsteps Email to ABC

Dear Simon Melkman,
Thank you for responding to my complaint regards Family Footsteps- Armenia. . .

You are correct. The program did not state two million Armenians were killed during events in Anatolia in 1915. It stated over one million. Historians also contest this figure, as they do the alleged genocide. As such, the word alleged should have prefaced this number. The reason for my error is that Armenians have, over the years claimed three hundred thousand, then a million and now two million killed.

Bias can be overt or subtle. Words are potent. Even using the word alleged does not soften the horror of the word genocide, especially when this word genocide is used on several occasions.

You referred me to Eric Campbell’s report in Foreign Correspondent- Armenia/Turkey-Ghosts of the Past, broadcast on ABC earlier this year as providing as an example of how viewers were alerted to the alternative Turkish point of view.

I have read the transcript. Once again we have the power of words to subtly create bias. The so-called dark chapter in Turkish history was in fact a re-location not a deportation. Examples such as this have occurred in many countries including the USA and Australia during World War 2.

Hirant Dink’s (archival footage) words fails to elicit a fair, proper and detailed response from the Turks interviewed. That is, the Armenian took up arms on the side of Russia and the West to destroy the Ottoman Empire. The number of Muslim Turks killed in this conflict far exceeds the original claimed three hundred thousand Armenian who perished or left Anatolia for other countries.

Let me consider some of Campbell’s interviews and comments.

Campbell: At first glance, it seems hard to understand how Turkey could deny there was genocide. For centuries Turks and Armenians have lived side by side in the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire but in World War 1, some Armenians took sides with invading Russians. In reprisal Turkish leaders ordered mass deportation of Armenians to the Syrian Desert. Historians say as many as a million people perished, but history is viewed very differently in Turkey.

My response? Why is it hard to understand? Because Campbell knows only one side of the story! The Armenians were re-located to several areas, quite fertile areas in a number of cases. Campbell finds it hard to understand because he did not research the topic thoroughly. “Some Armenians took sides with the Russians? Obviously Campbell has no knowledge of people like General Andranik who commanded 50,000 Armenian volunteers operating behind the Ottoman lines.

The reference to the statue Mother Armenia is touching, as are the words of a woman of one hundred and two years. What she remembers is taught memory.

Campbell then refers to the museum in Yerevan with its meticulous details of events of expulsion and persecution. Did he make any effort to find out that the telegram is a proven forgery as is a picture of a pile of skulls that is in reality a Russian painting done before 1915?

Again I return to the power of words. Several references are made to an Armenian homeland. This naturally creates in the mind of the viewer that there was a recent Armenian State. This is not true. Thousands of years ago there existed many fiefdoms in the Caucuses ruled by Armenian, the same as existed in may parts of Europe.

Mr Melkman, in an earlier part of your response to m y complaint, you referred Verjine Svazlian as a historian specializing in the alleged Armenian genocide.

She is an ethnographer and a folklorist. She specializes in collecting anecdotal stories from survivors of the Armenian revolt against their sovereign state. This is not what a historian does.

Campbell states that writers who challenge the Turkish version of history risk imprisonment. True! But in fairness why does he fail to mention the death threats against American historians who challenge the Armenian claims of over a million dead and who also produce evidence, not anecdotal hearsay, that Armenians took up arms against their fellow citizens and massacred them?

My concerns regards ant-Turkish bias is well founded. I took issue with broadcaster Maria Zjilstra who produced a series on ABC radio about Cyprus. Every speaker from the Greek Cypriot side spoke perfect English and articulated their version perfectly. The Turkish Cypriot speakers did not speak even good English and spoke haltingly and with great difficulty in expressing their views.

Perhaps the ABC could counter my concerns by a Family Footsteps- Turkish North Cyprus. Now, there’s a thought. The ABC can include a visit to the museum how the Greek Cypriots murdered innocent women and children and starved the Turkish Cypriots thus forcing them to emigrate to countries like Australia.

Finally, let me refer to your comment – The ABC acknowledges that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War 1 remains a matter of contention. But, you write, the ABC is required to present a diversity of perspectives on these issues over time, to ensure that viewers are provided with an appropriate range of views on the controversial subject. In the ABC’s view, this requirement has been met.

Ah! Over time! I should live so long.

Two programs this year that are biased in favor of Armenians. Perhaps you can refer me to any program by the ABC that gives the Turkish perspective on this controversial subject.

Harry Blackley
7 September 2007
From: "ABC CORPORATE_AFFAIRS7" <***@abc.net.au>
To: <***@three.com.au>
Sent: September 04, 2008 10:39 PM
Subject: Re: Letter of concern- Your 28 August 28 Documentary?? Family
Footsteps Armenia

Dear Mr Blackley,
Thank you for your email regarding the episode of Family Footsteps broadcast on 28 August.

The ABC regrets that you were concerned by the content of this program and considered that it represented anti-Turkish bias.

I should first explain that the program did not state that two million Armenians were killed during events in Anatolia in 1915, as you suggest. Moreover, the program narration did in fact use the word "alleged", as you have suggested it should have, at numerous points when describing the events in question. For your reference, the four uses of the word "alleged" in the narration were as follows:

- "During World War I, the Turks killed over one million Armenians in the first alleged genocide in modern history."

- "During that year [1915], refugees would have been fleeing the alleged genocide, and taking their treasured rugs with them."

- "Verjine Svazlian is an historian specialising in the alleged Armenian genocide."

- "Her Armenian experience also inspired Joanna to visit her grandmother in America, who herself was a refugee from the alleged genocide."

Your concern regarding anti-Turkish bias is noted. I should explain that Family Footsteps is categorised as topical and factual content for the purposes of the ABC's Code of Practice. This content category allows for the presentation of programs which reflect a wide range of audience interests, beliefs and perspectives, including programs containing controversial opinion and comment and programs focusing on particular points of view. Where such programs deal with matters of contention or public debate, a diversity of principal relevant perspectives must be demonstrated across the network or platform in an appropriate timeframe.

Each episode of Family Footsteps tells a personal story of an Australian journeying to his or her family's country of origin and experiencing its culture. In doing so, the series explores some historical and cultural aspects of each country; however, the personal journey of each participant always remains the key focus.

The episode broadcast on 28 August featured the story of Joanna Kambourian, who travelled to Armenia to learn more about her culture and her family's past, and to confront the spectre of her great-grandfather's actions during World War I, which resulted in a sense of shame within her family. Ms Kambourian's journey included a visit to the Genocide Museum in Yerevan, where she learnt more about the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I. These events were central to her family's past, and coming to terms with them was a significant part of her Armenian experience. For this reason, they were looked at in some detail during the program.

The ABC acknowledges that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I remains a matter of contention. To this day, different people and groups hold very strong opposing views in relation to these events, views which are incompatible with each other. Accordingly, ABC Television is required to present a diversity of perspectives on these issues over time, to ensure that viewers are provided with an appropriate range of views on the controversial subject.

In the ABC's view, this requirement has been met. In this episode of Family Footsteps, the narrator stated, "The Genocide Museum tells the horrific story of the systematic destruction of the Armenian people, a history that is still disputed by the Turkish government today", which alerted viewers to the existence of the alternative Turkish point of view. Earlier in the year, Foreign Correspondent presented a report entitled 'Armenia/Turkey - Ghosts of the Past' (http://abc.net.au/foreign/content/2008/s2227791.htm), which included the views of Suat Kiniklioglu, a Turkish MP who accepts that there were Armenian deaths but does not believe that the Turkish actions amounted to a planned extermination of the Armenian population. It also included the views of Fuat Turgut, a Turkish lawyer, who stated, "We never did such a thing. And we Turks feel very bad when we are falsely accused of it. We did not carry out genocide. On the contrary, the Armenians carried out genocide against us." In addition to these examples, when appropriate, ABC news reports have made reference to the events and provided a range of relevant perspectives. Over time, viewers have been made aware of the highly contested nature of the subject, and have been given the opportunity to consider the different perspectives and form their own conclusions. This approach is consistent with the requirements of the Code of Practice.

Please be assured that your concerns about this program have been brought to the attention of the ABC TV Documentaries department and ABC Television management. Thank you for bringing these concerns to the ABC's attention. I have attached a link to the ABC's Code of Practice for your information: http://abc.net.au/corp/pubs/documents/200806_codeofpractice-revised_2008.pdf

Yours sincerely,
Simon Melkman
ABC Audience & Consumer Affairs
To: Audience & Consumer Affairs
From: Harry Blackley (***@three.com.au)
Subject: Letter of concern- Your 28 August 28 Documentary?? Family
Footsteps Armenia
Date: 29/08/08 08:27

I am a Scottish-born Australian. I have studied the Armenian claim of Genocide. The statement that 2 million Armenians were killed during events in Aantolia in 1915 is false and should never have been included in the program without the disclaimer "it is alleged". The continuing anti-Turkish bias within the ABC and SBS is to be deplored. When will Turks be given the opportunity to show the falsity of all claims made by the Armenian diaspora?

Harry Blackley
Love & Death in Cyprus
Kibris'ta Ask ve Olum
Network - ABC1
RecipientName - Audience & Consumer Affairs
Referer - Contact

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Aquitaine said...

« Campbell states that writers who challenge the Turkish version of history risk imprisonment. True! »

True? The Blue book of Toynbee and Bryce, some books of Yves Ternon and V. Dadrian... are translated into Turkish and available in some bookshops of Istanbul. The editors were never threated to prison.

Almost all the writers attacked in justice by a small nationalist group of Turkish lawyers, for pro-Armenian views, were acquitted.

« But in fairness why does he fail to mention the death threats against American historians who challenge the Armenian claims »

There were not always simple « death threats ». The house of Shaw family was half destroyed by a bomb in October 1977. It was the night, the Shaws were sleeping, and could be killed. Stanford J. Shaw's office, in UCLA, was broken. His lectures were systematically disturbed by Armenian activist during the 1980's. Prof. Shaw was forced to cancel his regularly scheduled classes and go into hiding.

Several lectures of Gilles Veinstein, professor at the Collège de France, were disturbed by French-Armenian activists, including in Aix-en-Provence, during the late 1990's.

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