Rep. Schiff Leads Congressional Opposition to PBS Providing Platform for Armenian Genocide Deniers

–System Of A Down mobilizes fans against PBS panel

WASHINGTON DC–Authors of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the US House of Representatives–Adam Schiff (D-CA) and George Radanovich (R-CA)–and Armenian Caucus co-chairmen Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ)–have urged their colleagues to join with them in signing a Congressional letter expressing opposition to plans of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to provide a platform to deniers of the Armenian genocide.

Amid tremendous controversy–PBS recently announced plans to broadcast a panel discussion including Armenian genocide deniers Justin McCarthy and Omer Turan following the airing this April of the documentary "The Armenian Genocide." The ANCA has formally protested PBS’s decision–and established an online WebFax program through which thousands of individuals have already registered their protests. Additionally–over 12,000 protests have been sent to PBS through an online petition set up by Armenian Tidorts: www.petitiononline.com/pbspanel/petition.html

The Glendale News Press highlighted the ANCA’s leadership on this issue–and reported that–"Rep. Adam Schiff–who represents Glendale and Burbank–is eliciting the support of other members of Congress to come out in opposition. He was one of four Congressman to send out a message Wednesday asking counterparts to sign a letter–which they plan to send to PBS voicing concerns over the piece. ‘Despite the Turkish government’s concerted and well-financed effort to obscure and alter history–there is no serious academic dispute about the Armenian genocide,’ the Congressmen’s letter to PBS reads. ‘We urge you to stand by PBS’ commitment to public service and not give voice to those who would deny the deliberate murder of 1.5 million people.’"

The Washington Post reported on February 16 that–"Thousands of Armenian Americans are protesting the Public Broadcasting Service’s planned panel-discussion program about Turkey’s role in the deaths of Armenia’s during and after World War I. The 25-minute program has generated an outcry because the panel will include two scholars who deny that 1.5 million Armenian civilians were killed in eastern Turkey from 1915 to 1920."

"We welcome the leadership of Representatives Schiff–Radanovich–Pallone–and Knollenberg in expressing Congressional opposition to PBS’s decision to provide public airtime to deniers of the Armenian Genocide," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We look forward to helping to generate bipartisan support for this letter and to pursuing other avenues to impress upon PBS that it should not become complicit in the Turkish government’s campaign to deny this crime against humanity."

In a letter sent this week to their House colleagues–the four legislators sought support for a strong Congressional message urging PBS not to put its "imprimatur on those who deny the murder of 1.5 million people." Noting that–"unfortunately–PBS has included on the panel two professors who deny the Armenian Genocide," the four Congressmen noted that–"their opinions run counter to the vast majority of academicians who have examined the events of 1915-23 and are no more credible than the assertions of those who deny the Holocaust."

The Congressional letter–addressed to PBS’s Acting President and Chief Operating Officer–Wayne Godwin–specifically asks that–"PBS not provide a national platform to those who deny the Armenian genocide… Despite the Turkish government’s concerted and well-financed effort to obscure and alter history–there is no serious academic dispute about the Armenian genocide." The letter closes by noting that–"Surely–PBS would not consider broadcasting a documentary on the Holocaust–followed by a panel that included Holocaust deniers. A commitment to balance does not mandate the inclusion of opinions that are objectively false."

Grammy Award-winning band System Of A Down is also raising awareness about the PBS panel by posting on its website the ANCA action alert that calls on PBS to back away from plans to broadcast the panel.

The band–known for its worldwide genocide prevention efforts–has been at the forefront of the effort to end US complicity in the Turkish government’s campaign to deny the Armenian genocide. System has pressed aggressively for the adoption of Armenian genocide resolutions before the US Senate and House of Representatives–including through a personal visit last September to the Batavia–Illinois district office of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

To sign the petition go to www.petitiononline.com/pbspanel/petition.html. To send a WebFax go to www.systemofadown.com.

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