Turkish Scholars Are Accused of Being Paid off by Armenians

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Turkish Scholars Are Accused of Being Paid off by Armenians

By Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

Nov. 17, 2005

Turkish establishment’s displeasure with the three independent Turkish scholars who spoke at UCLA on November 6, expressing their disagreement with the Turkish government’s denialist views on the Armenian Genocide, keeps escalating.

Before the conference, professors Taner Akcam, Fatma Muge Gocek and Elif Shafak received insulting and threatening e-mails from individual Turks. Then the Turkish Students’ Association at UCLA offered to fly a denialist “scholar” all the way from Turkey to counter the three Turkish speakers, a suggestion that was declined.

Now the Turks are accusing these scholars of being paid by Armenians for their anti-establishment views. Milliyet reported in its Nov. 9 issue that the Turkish Consul General in Los Angeles Engin Ansay had told Alper Nakri, the reporter for the Dogan News Agency in Los Angeles, that Akcam earns $5,000 to $7,000 for taking part in such conferences. Ansay was quoted as saying: “The participants [of the UCLA conference] are pseudo-scholars. Akcam and Gocek are rendering this service for fame and fortune, in a highly conscious manner, and perhaps even in spite of their own beliefs.”

Needless to say, this accusation deeply offended the three scholars. Even though this was not the first time that Turkish journalists and officials had slandered them for challenging the Turkish government’s denials of the Armenian Genocide, it was the first time that such an accusation was made in the United States, thus making the slanderous article actionable under US libel laws.

Before considering any legal action, however, Prof. Gocek said in an e-mail that she contacted the Turkish Consul General to confirm Milliyet’s report. Mr. Ansay denied making those statements. Then someone from Milliyet contacted Dr. Akcam, asking him to write a rebuttal.

While we cannot be certain whether or not the Consul General was misquoted, most Turkish newspapers are notorious for publishing unsubstantiated and unverified news items. Even though from time to time someone has the courage and patience to sue them, the publishers of these papers consider the payment of court-mandated fines as the cost of doing business.

Because of their lack of journalistic standards, I have always refused all interview requests by the Turkish media. No amount of subsequent corrections or retractions could undo the damage to one’s reputation after a distorted version of one’s words is published.

TRT (Turkish State Radio and Television) and CNN-Turk are reportedly coming to the United States in a few weeks to interview Armenian Americans on Turkish-Armenian relations. Regrettably, some Armenians are going to accept to be interviewed by these Turkish TV stations either out of a desire to see themselves on TV or naïvely thinking that they would be educating the Turks on Armenian issues. Afterwards, when they see that their statements are distorted, they then blame the Turkish media and try to convince their fellow Armenians that they didn’t really make those terrible statements!

Complaining after an interview is distorted does not help matters. We need to learn from the sad experiences of thousands of others who have been victimized by the Turkish media over the years. Refusing to speak to the Turkish media is the best way to stay out of trouble!

NY Times Map Depicts Karabagh as Part of Armenia

The New York Times published a lengthy article on November 7 regarding the fraudulent parliamentary elections recently held in Azerbaijan.

Accompanying the article was a detailed map, prepared by The New York Times, showing both Armenia and Azerbaijan. The territory of Azerbaijan was shown in white, whereas Armenia was colored gray. Interestingly, the territory of Karabagh was also colored gray. Furthermore, on the map of Karabagh, in large block letters, it was written: “NAGORNO KARABAKH (ARMENIA).”

What The New York Times depicted is absolutely accurate from the point of view of every Armenian. Karabagh is de facto a part of Armenia, regardless of its current de jure status.

After angry messages from unhappy Azeri officials and their American lobbyists, The New York Times published on Nov. 11, a brief note under the rubric of “For the Record,” stating: “A map on Monday with an article about the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan designated the Nagorno Karabakh region incorrectly. It is part of Azerbaijan, not Armenia.”

The day would come when the map published by The New York Times on Nov. 7 would be the internationally recognized territory of the Republic of Armenia, including Karabagh as one of its districts.

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