FOX-TV Airs Armenian Genocide Program

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FOX-TV Airs Armenian Genocide Program

By Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

April 27, 2006

In recent days, thousands of articles were published on the Armenian Genocide in newspapers around the world. In addition, in dozens of countries, TV and radio stations provided extensive coverage of the commemorative events for the 91st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

This writer brought his share by delivering public remarks and participating in several Armenian and non-Armenian TV programs. Last year, the Los Angeles affiliate of FOX-TV (KTTV, Channel 11) interviewed him on the eve of the 90th anniversary, while airing live satellite pictures of the procession of hundreds of thousands of Armenians at the Genocide Memorial Monument in Yerevan.

This year, FOX-TV invited this writer again to their studios on April 23rd, while airing live satellite footage of the procession at the Genocide Monument in Armenia. An hour later that night, he was interviewed by UPN (KCOP-TV, Channel 13). The transcript of that second interview will be provided at a later date. Here is the transcript of the FOX-TV interview:

FOX-TV anchor 1: It’s Monday morning in Armenia where an entire nation is marking the 91st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

FOX-TV anchor 2: The Los Angeles area is home to 350,000 people of Armenian descent. The Genocide, long denied by the Turkey, is a very emotional issue for Armenians here and around the world.

Anchor 1: And now you are looking at a live shot of Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, where ceremonies are underway commemorating the start of the Genocide on April 24th, 1915. It’s estimated over one million Armenians were killed between 1915 and 1923.

Anchor 2: Joining us now in studio is Harut Sassounian of the United Armenian Fund. It’s nice to have you back. Thanks for coming in. And yet, I feel that when we begin to ask you questions in 2006, the questions don’t differ a whole lot from in 2005. Does that make you feel sad, to an extent that the progress has not been as quick as you would like it to be?

Sassounian: It’s frustrating because the facts of history are clear, but for political reasons, people play games, and that is what’s frustrating to us -- because they know the truth, and yet, they want to cover up the truth for political considerations.

Anchor 1: Let’s go back a step and be more precise here. You would like the United States government to recognize that there was an Armenian Genocide, in the first place, and the Turkish government as well?

Sassounian: The United States government in the past has had no problem recognizing it, but in recent years, because of political considerations in the region, they have started playing word games. They don’t want to come out and flat out to say it. There is a resolution in both the House and the Senate which the administration is blocking from coming to a vote. If it would come to a vote, it would pass with an overwhelming majority.

Anchor 2: I would also like you to speak to the live pictures that we are seeing in Yerevan.

Sassounian: Every year on April 24, it’s already April 24 -- Armenia is 12 hours ahead of Los Angeles -- so already tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Armenians are starting the solemn procession from early morning hours till late at night. They pay their respects and they place flowers. The government leaders are there as well as the ambassadors of various countries.

Anchor 2: Speaking of ambassadors, you have been writing a lot of editorial pieces, a lot of articles lately about the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, talking about the U.S. government calling him back to the United States after he said what?

Sassounian: Amb. Evans was in Los Angeles last year, in February 2005. He met a large number of Armenian groups and in one of his meetings, he made a statement acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, calling it "the first genocide of the 20th Century." A few days later, when he got back, they [the State Dept.] slapped his hands and told him, "that’s a no-no! You’re not supposed to say that. Issue a clarification, saying that that was your personal opinion as opposed to the policy of the U.S. government." He issued that [clarification]. Then they made him retract a part of his clarification. They did not like the way he had clarified it. They made him make a second clarification. Then the American Foreign Service Association gave him a "Constructive Dissent" award. They gave him an award for dissenting from policy. Right before getting the award, the State Dept. forced the Association to rescind the award. So they took the award away, and now they are firing him!

Anchor 1: Does this say more about politics of the word genocide?

Sassounian: The facts are clear. There is no dispute about the facts. Even the founder of the modern Turkish Republic, Kemal Ataturk, recognized the Genocide in a 1926 interview. Turkish tribunals tried and sentenced to death the masterminds of the Genocide. The U.S. government…Pres. Reagan recognized it in a Presidential Proclamation in 1981. The U.S. Congress -- the House of Representatives, twice in 1975 and 1984, passed resolutions recognizing it. There are millions of documents in the U.S. national archives testifying to that fact. The U.S. Ambassador back then in 1915….

Anchor 1: What the Turkish government says is that there were casualties on both sides. That’s why they are reluctant….

Sassounian: Even though they know better…. The good news this year, as opposed to last year, more and more Turkish scholars are coming forward saying, "look, we started this, it is genocide, and it is time for Turkey to face the facts of history." So that’s the new development.

Anchor 2: Which is what the U.S. State Dept. has said it is encouraging. That’s its position. It says that we believe we want other countries, we encourage other countries to examine themselves, examine their own issues. Why is that not good enough for you?

Sassounian: It’s not good enough because the U.S. government, first of all, before the United States starts giving a lecture about democracy to foreign countries, it has to practice what it preaches itself, by recognizing a fact of history that happened 91 years ago, And then, only then, when you are on a solid ground, you can give a lecture about bringing democracy to Iraq, Russia or China. Then, that would make it more credible, if we practice what we preach ourselves.

Anchor 2: Is there concern, I am looking here at, from the United Nations, there are adopted resolutions on what genocide is and on what the ramifications are when signatory countries dispute genocide, as they are right now? Is it possible that this could end up in the International Court of Justice should the United States make a wrong step? Is that actually what you are concerned about?

Sassounian: We would not take the U.S. to court. But there is a lot of conversation in the Armenian community worldwide, consulting with international legal experts on possibly taking Turkey to the international court.

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