Sassounian’s column of Feb. 8, 2007
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
It took a little more than a year and a half, but it was well worth the wait. After lengthy, sometimes complex, but mostly amicable discussions, the European edition of TIME magazine, in its Feb. 12, 2007 issue, published a full-page text on the Armenian Genocide and distributed a complimentary DVD, in English and French, which contains a compelling 52-minute documentary on the Armenian Genocide by French director Laurence Jourdan. The DVD also includes a 46-minute interview with Dr. Yves Ternon, a leading expert on the Armenian Genocide.
This issue of the magazine, which has been on newsstands since Feb. 2 in 67 countries throughout Europe, parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, was sold out within the first 48 hours of its availability. Extra copies can be ordered by contacting : email@example.com.
Both the DVD and the full-page ad were provided free of charge by TIME Europe (circulation 550,000) after realizing that its staff, without proper review, had inserted a Turkish DVD as a paid advertisement, under the guise of promoting tourism in Turkey in the June 6, 2005 issue of TIME Europe.
The Turkish DVD, paid for by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, was a deceitful attempt to spread malicious lies and denialist propaganda on the Armenian Genocide. Sinan Aygun, the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, subsequently disclosed that Turkey’s General Chief of Staff had approved the DVD for distribution through TME. He also revealed that the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism had prepared the sinister DVD.
When scores of TIME subscribers, the Switzerland-Armenia Association (SAA) and this columnist complained to TIME executives, Managing Editor James Kelly in a letter to SAA dated Sept. 2, 2005, apologized for having disseminated the Turkish DVD which he said "was not adequately reviewed by anyone at TIME." Furthermore, he acknowledged that the Turkish DVD did not "meet TIME’s standards for fairness and accuracy."
Moreover, TIME (Europe) published in its October 17, 2005 issue, a critical page-long letter to the editor — possibly the longest letter ever published in the history of the magazine — jointly signed by the following five French organizations : Memoire 2000, the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations of France, Comité de Defense de la Cause Armenienne - ANC France, J’Accuse, and the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples. In an Editorial note, TIME restated its earlier apology for disseminating the Turkish DVD.
In December 2005, these five organizations along with the Switzerland-Armenia Association, the French Association of Armenian Lawyers and Jurists, the EUROPEAN - ARMENIAN FEDERATION for Justice and Democracy, and The California Courier newspaper reached an amicable agreement with TIME executives ensuring that the facts of the Armenian Genocide will not be distorted again in the pages of the magazine.
TIME agreed to distribute free of charge in its European edition an Armenian Genocide documentary selected by the Armenian side. The magazine paid the licensing fee for use of the DVD as well as the cost of duplicating over half million copies. TIME also agreed to publish free of charge a full-page ad on the Armenian Genocide.
In addition, Michael Elliott, the Editor of TIME International, issued the following significant written statement : "Please be advised that, in common with other leading news organizations, it is TIME’s policy and practice to refer to the Armenian genocide as a historical fact. Accordingly, I will be informing our correspondents and editors that the term ’Armenian genocide’ should be used without qualification."
The above mentioned organizations are pleased that the very costly Turkish attempt to distort the facts of the Armenian Genocide backfired and was properly countered by TIME magazine which placed journalistic ethics above all other considerations.
Turkish officials, on the other hand, were very displeased with this turn of events. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, when asked for his reaction to the DVD in TIME magazine, told CNN TURK last Friday : "Now millions of people [in Europe] will be brainwashed against Turkey." Turkish TV networks and newspapers provided extensive coverage of this unexpected development. Turkish denialist circles have already launched an e-mail campaign against TIME magazine. Those wishing to counter the Turkish complaints should send their e-mails to : firstname.lastname@example.org, thanking TIME executives for reaffirming the true facts of the Armenian Genocide.
The above achievement is the result of lengthy discussions with TIME executives. For the first time, several Armenian and non-Armenian organizations throughout Europe and the United States worked together on a common project. Now that such a network is in place, it becomes easier to organize such a multinational coordinated effort in the future on other significant issues.
The Turks paid over a million dollars to advertise their denial of the Armenian Genocide in seven languages. With the kind assistance of TIME, the Armenians and their friends succeeded in organizing a successful response using nothing more than the language of truth !
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