Genocide Photos Returned to Ellis Island Exhibit

* National Park Service reverses earlier decision to eliminate photographs–captions–and text documenting the Genocide. WATERTOWN–Mass.–National Park Service officials at Ellis Island agreed today to return photographs and text documenting the Armenian Genocide to an exhibit at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum–ending a three week controversy surrounding the Park Service’s decision to censor these items from its exhibit on Armenian immigration–reported the Armenian National Committee of America-Eastern United States.

The agreement with the Park Service was reached at a meeting Monday afternoon between the Superintendent of Ellis Island–Diane Dayson–and a delegation of Armenian American community leaders which included the curator of the exhibit–Margaret Tellalian-Kyrkostas–representatives of the Armenian National Committee–the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church–the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of North America–the Armenian Missionary Association–the Armenian General Athletic Union–AIM magazine–and representatives of the original exhibit committee. Also present was a representative of the office of New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone was present. Vallone was instrumental in advocating for the inclusion of the photographs.

As part of this agreement–the Park Service will return photographs–add descriptive text and display titles which correctly characterize as "genocide" the Turkish government’s systematic and deliberate campaign to destroy its Armenian population.

"We are satisfied that the National Park Service has taken steps to place the Armenian Genocide within its appropriate historical context as the leading cause of Armenian immigration to the United States," said Grace Kehetian Kulegian–executive director of the ANC Eastern United States.

"It is important to note that thousands of individuals from throughout the United States and around the world wrote–called–e-mailed and faxed their concerns to the officials responsible for resolving this conflict. Armenian-Americans proved–once again–that they have the power to make change and set the historical record straight."

"I am satisfied that this issue has been resolved consistent with the historical record," stated Tellalian-Kyrkostas. "There are still some puzzling questions as to why and who was responsible for the censorship one week before the exhibit opening–after NPS had the narrative and photo labels in their possession for two years. However–I am confident that the exhibit now tells the story of Armenian immigration to the United States."

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ)–Co-Chairman of the Congressional Armenian Caucus–Rep. Pat Kennedy (D-RI)–and Vallone were among the elected officials who protested the Park Service’s decision to censor the exhibit. The controversy received extensive news coverage–including a Sept. 11–article in The New York Times–a National Associated Press story–and a Fresno–California press conference by ANCA Chairman Mourad Topalian which was covered by the local affiliates of ABC–NBC–CBS–and Fox television.

Tellalian-Kyrkostas is the Director of the Anthropology Museum of the People New York–co-founded by Margaret Mead and affiliated with Queens College of the City University of New York.

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