If Turks had not Denied the Genocide, CBS wouldn’t have Aired this Show

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By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
March 4, 2010

Turks have only themselves to blame for their unhappiness with the airing of a revealing program on the Armenian Genocide by CBS on February 28.

Were it not for the Turkish government’s constant denials and distortions, the Armenian Genocide could have become a forgotten episode in world history. Yet, because Turks refuse to face their crimes and persist in concocting outrageous lies, fair-minded people everywhere take various measures to set the record straight, as CBS did in “60 Minutes” last Sunday. As long as Turks continue their refusal to acknowledge the truth, they will suffer the indignation of being called mass murderers and genocide deniers by the international community -- an deserved punishment for committing such heinous crimes, and then covering them up! The Triumvirate of executioners of the Armenian nation -- Talaat, Enver, and Jemal -- could have never imagined that millions of people around the world, a century later, would still remember the dastardly crimes they committed in 1915?

It was noteworthy that several days before CBS aired this program, Turkish organizations were already urging their members to write to the network’s executives to complain about the segment on the Armenian Genocide, even though they had no clue about its content! The well-known Armenian saying, "kogh sirde togh," aptly describes this bizarre Turkish behavior. Loosely translated, this expression characterizes "a thief afraid of being exposed." With a guilty conscience, Turks constantly fear of being blamed for committing genocide and loudly proclaim their innocence, long before anyone accuses them of perpetrating such a crime.

The 12-minute segment on the Armenian Genocide totally debunked the Turkish myth of innocence in a most dramatic fashion. CBS correspondent Bob Simon along with Prof. Peter Balakian traveled all the way to Deir Zor, Syria -- “the Armenian Auschwitz” -- where they uncovered bone fragments of Armenian victims, by simply scratching the surface of the desert sand with their fingertips.

The shocking images must have left an indelible mark on the minds of millions of viewers. Fast talking Turkish denialists could not wipe away what the audience saw with their own eyes! No one could believe former Turkish Ambassador Nabi Sensoy’s deceptive words, that Armenians were not killed but simply deported. When pressed by Bob Simon, Sensoy first dismissed the significance of the unearthed bones, and then tried to couch his falsehoods in an aura of respectability by stating that UN’s definition of genocide required the element of "intent." He finally admitted that many Armenians "perished," but that was not the Turks’ intent. How could 1.5 million men, women, and children, rounded up from all corners of the Ottoman Empire, vanish into thin air? Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington, who was unceremoniously dismissed from his post after that interview, conveniently forgot to mention another clause of the UN definition of genocide: "Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction." It is regrettable that CBS provided a national platform to this genocide denialist -- something it would never do when airing a program on the Holocaust. Would CBS put on the air a Nazi or a Holocaust denier to present "the other side of the story?"

Of course, it is not possible to cover all facets of the Armenian Genocide in 12 minutes. The segment on “60 Minutes” could have been even more devastating to the Turks, had the producers of been a bit more diligent in their investigation. For example, it is not true that "no U.S. President has ever uttered the word genocide." It is well known that Pres. Reagan, in his Presidential Proclamation of April 22, 1981, made reference to the Armenian Genocide.

Bob Simon also stated that Turkish-instigated political pressure blocked the passage of a congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide in 2007. What he neglected to mention were the two resolutions that were adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1975 and 1984. When Simon asked the Turkish envoy why eight former U.S. Secretaries of State had rallied behind Turkey to kill the 2007 resolution, Amb. Sensoy responded by pointing to Turkey’s importance to the United States. He was implying that geopolitical considerations far outweighed the loss of 1.5 million lives!

Finally, Bob Simon wrongly asserted that the Armenia-Turkey Protocols contained a clause calling for the formation of a historical commission "to rule on whether a genocide took place." Although this clause is vaguely worded, it does not call for the establishment for such a fact-finding commission.

Regardless of these errors, millions of Americans who watched the program must have come away with the clear understanding that in 1915 the Turks had engaged in "race extermination," as U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau had reported to the State Department.

In order to counter the negative Turkish comments inundating CBS, readers are urged to send e-mails thanking "60 Minutes" for its enlightening program that effectively fights genocide denial. To view the TV program and send a comment, please click on: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6253043n.

We also thank Prof. Balakian for his eloquent explanations and for accompanying the CBS crew to the Syrian desert.