CBS Exposes Turkey’s Violation of Greek Minority Rights, but Ignores Armenians

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

CBS Network’s “60 Minutes” program aired on December 17 a devastating exposé of the violations of the rights of the Greek minority in Turkey.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Greek Orthodox Church, headquartered in Istanbul, courageously criticized the Turkish government for treating him as a “second-class citizen.” He went on to state that he felt like he was being “crucified.”

This is perhaps the first time that a major American TV network has dared to broadcast a program that reveals the discriminatory practices of the repressive Turkish regime against the Greek minority. It would appear that CBS was able to withstand the intense pressure Ankara and its highly-paid Washington lobbyists routinely apply to censor programs that expose the Turkish government’s abusive behavior.

Not surprisingly, various Turkish officials, including Pres. Gul, reacted angrily. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu disingenuously suggested that the Greek Patriarch should have submitted his complaints to the authorities in Ankara. The Foreign Minister acted as if he was unaware that for years countless complaints had been lodged by the Patriarch about the injustices suffered by his people. The Turkish government not only has remained unresponsive to these complaints, but has carried out a deliberate policy of harassment and intimidation to force thousands of Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians and Jews to abandon their homes and businesses and relocate overseas.

Bob Simon, the correspondent for “60 Minutes,” reported that “at the turn of the last century, there were nearly 2 million Orthodox Christians in Turkey; 1.5 million were expelled in 1923, and another 150,000 left after violent anti-Christian riots in Istanbul in 1955. Today, in all of Turkey, there are only 4,000 Orthodox Christians left.” The figures quoted by Simon refer only to Greeks.

”I have visited the Prime Minister, many Ministers, submitting our problems…asking to help us,” Patriarch Bartholomew told Simon. He never got a response.

“60 Minutes” further reported on its website that “Turkish authorities have seized Christian properties and closed Christian churches, monasteries and schools.” The Greek “parishioners are afraid that the authorities want to force Bartholomew and his church — the oldest of all Christian churches — out of Turkey.” The Turkish government “would be happy to see the Patriarchate extinguished or moving abroad, but our belief is that it will never happen,” Bartholomew told Bob Simon.

Periodically, the harassment of Greeks and other minorities becomes deadly, as was the case with Armenian journalist Hrant Dink who was assassinated in January 2007 in front of his Istanbul newspaper office. In fact, just as Simon was ending his tour of the Greek Patriarchate’s headquarters, a Turkish policeman reported that there was a threat on Bartholomew’s life. Previous threats had been serious enough for the Turkish authorities to place cameras and barbed wire around the Patriarchate and provide the Patriarch with 24-hour protection.

Simon was soon to uncover that despite its Islamist façade, Prime Minister Erdogan’s government routinely violates the tolerance preached by the Prophet Muhammad who had written a letter to the Greek monastery on Mt. Sinai almost 1,400 years ago, offering protection and religious freedom to Christians. Simon lamented the fact that Muhammad’s message of goodwill had not been put into practice by the Turkish authorities. The Halki School of Theology, the only Greek Orthodox seminary in Turkey, was closed down by the government in 1971. Since Turkish law requires that all priests and Patriarchs be native Turkish citizens, the shutting down of the seminary made the training of new priests impossible, jeopardizing the Church’s continued existence in Turkey.

Unfortunately, CBS completely ignored the fate of Armenians and other persecuted minorities in Turkey, never once mentioning any of them! In fact, Simon seemed to be deliberately ignoring their existence.

In one particular segment of the program discussing the location of the Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul, Simon went as far as describing the neighborhood as having been “Greek and Christian.” This was yet another attempt to avoid acknowledging the Armenians. Without diverting attention from the trials and tribulations of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey, Simon could have made a passing reference to Armenians — the country’s largest Christian minority – who also suffered many injustices, including genocide!

Readers are urged to post a comment on the CBS website, praising the network’s outstanding exposé of the abuses and persecutions experienced by the Ecumenical Patriarch and his flock in Turkey. Readers should also inquire as to why there was not a single mention of Armenians or other minorities who have also suffered under the Turkish yoke. To post a comment, please click on the following link: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=60017n#comments

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7 Comments

  1. John Chookasian said:

    CBS, 60 Minutes Program
    The Violations of the Greek Minority In Turkey
    Mr. Bob Simon

    Dear Mr. Simon,

    On one hand I applaud CSB and you for having the courage and fortitude of exposing the centuries of many thousands of injustices, abuses, violations, outright murders and deportations of millions  of innocent indigenous Greek people that lived in Turkey; that were committed by the various Sultans of the past, leading up to the present day Government of Turkey. The Greek and Christian minority and the other Christian nationalities living in Turkey since the invasion of the Ottoman Turks in 1453, have also lived with centuries of inhumane acts, that were committed against them and suffered greatly the same fate, since the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople and took over the ancient home-lands that have belonged to the Christian Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians and other minorities.

    Mr. Simon, I am confident that you have researched the tragic histories of past and the present day Christian minority living in Turkey today prior to your CBS broadcast. Why did you not mentions the Armenians and all of the similar abuses that they have suffered and endured since their occupation of their historic 3,000 year old lands by the Turks during your broadcast?
    I am very, very disappointed and dismayed by you and your CBS Company for excluding the Armenian and Assyrian people’s horrible trials and tribulations that was perpertrated under the Turkish rule for centuries and for not including and telling your viewers the full catastrophic, illfated genocidal story of the Armenians and the Assyrians during your broadcast! Again, why were the Armenians and Assyrians ommitted from your broadcast? It is a horrible shame that CBS told their viewers only about the present day Turkish Government’s intolerance against the Greeks and fully ommitted the Turkish Govenrments past and present continuous barbaric and shocking treatment against the Armenians and Assyrians!
    This totally unacceptable! I hope in the future that you re-edit and re-broadcast this program by telling the FULL TRUTH which would include the very sad, savage and cruel treatment of the Armenian and Assyrian people living in Turkey for millennia.

    Most of my family, my wifes family members and their thousands of townspeople, that lived in the interior of Turkey were fully humiliated, called “Pigs,” exiled, robbed of all of their possessions, tortured, raped and murdered in numerous barbaric ways by the Turkish soldiers, police, moslem criminals, mercenaries, and Kurds during the 1915 Genocide of the Armenians living in Turkey and also the other Christians living in Turkey! Yet CBS choose to ignore these undenialable facts and ommit us! Again, why?

    By ignoring and not commenting about the Armenians and Assyrians in Turkey on your broadcast, you have offended and angered millions of people around the world and have lost their future support of CBS!
    If you wish to make amends and recieve the support of the millions of people that you have alienated around the world, I would recommend that you re-edit or create another similar CBS program which would include the story of Armenian and Assyrian people of Turkey, that parallels the broadcast of the Greeks and their present day tradegy and violations.
    Sincerely,

    John Chookasian

  2. Baron's Life said:

    Hey…the rhetoric question was why are we Armenians being ignored…when everybody else…well almost every body else, is being heard…and listened to….?
    The answer is simple…..!!!
    Our Diaspora leaders are kissing the wrong asses…pure and simple…..if 90 years of trying hasn’t paid off…I say…it’s time to look at what we are doing wrong and at getting rid of the leadership that did not accomplish what we wanted…recognition of the Genocide…the bottom line is it ain’t happening…we need new leadership…we need to be pragmatic, we need to be and become smart in our approach…enough crying, enough self pitty, enough self degradation…what we need is a clear plan and vision to accomplish the objective peacefully and sincerely.
    Can we do it ?…. Yes a Genocide Denider….Mr. Obama said….YES WE CAN….makes me laugh…you need to wonder why he ever said he would, as President,  recognize the genocide,…there just isn’t enough Armenian votes in the USA to make a difference in his election….or is there?
    We need to gather, collect, review and act in order to achieve success

  3. Garen (Love Greek People) said:

    I don’t understand why are you people so upset???Do we ever mention Greeks in our cries for  Int. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, It wasn’t only an Armenian genocide, it was a Greek Genocide too.  Just be happy that at least the Greek Community has enough influence to have a show of that magnitude aired here in the states and show to the millions of viewers how barberic and (HETAMNATS) (t)urkish government is. 

  4. Mego said:

    In Islam there is a concept called Nasekh and Mansokh , which means say , write ,or do something  now , and later on say ,write , or do the opposite baised on your needs.  The Quran is half  Nasekh and half Mansokh . so  Muhammd’s letters of protection  to the Greeks of Turkey , and  the Armenians of Jerusalem  means nothing . On a related issue last week in Bethlehem the Greek patriarch ordered an attack on the Armenian priests inside the Nativity church in an on going attempt to shift focus from  selling of  land that belongs to the Palestinian Orthodox christians to Israel , and control over the  priesthood  by  holding higher positions within the church in Greek hands , while celebrating Greek Orthodox Christmas the palestinians  yelled traitors . 
    John and Baron you make me proud .

  5. Karo said:

    For such a news program to talk about the Armenian situation, it would be necessary to contact and conduct interviews with the Armenian patriarchate (AP) in Istanbul. I don’t think the AP would even grant such an interview. If it by chance did, it would not be so candid about harms done to it by Turkish citizens and by an indifferent government. The AP does not have the backing of 300 million followers, as the Greek patriarch does. It simply cannot afford to be openly critical of Turkish leaders, institutions, or anything Turkish, particularly to the outside media. Hrant Dink could have done these things because he was an intellectual of the left, but the AP is a community organization of an endangered minority. I understand that the suggestion was never made by anyone here for the AP to be covered in such a news piece, but a news piece done about Armenians would have to cover it – it is too important to be ignored.

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