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July 19 2018 | 2:19am AET

Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Communities Reject Appeasement of Genocide Denial by SBS CEO [VIDEO]

Source: ANC Australia | Friday, 15 June 2018
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SYDNEY: The leading public affairs committees of the Armenian-Australian, Greek-Australian and Assyrian-Australian communities have slammed SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) CEO, Michael Ebeid after he answered Senator Kristina Keneally's probing questions at Senate Estimates, by committing to his Editorial Policy that appeases denial of the Armenian Genocide, which was the systematic attempt by Ottoman Turkey to rid the world of its Armenian, Greek and Assyrian inhabitants during and after World War I.

The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU), the Australian Hellenic Council - NSW (AHC) and the Assyrian Universal Alliance - Australian Chapter (AUA) have released a joint statement as descendants of survivors of the 1915 Genocide, targeting the "flippant" responses given by a "stubborn" Ebeid, who continuously downplayed the overwhelming scholarly evidence that proves the genocide as indisputable fact. He also ignored the academic criticism of his earlier defence of this policy.

Following these earlier responses under Senate Estimates questioning by then-Senator Scott Ludlam, Ebeid had received a letter of protest from the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS - the leading world association of recognised genocide scholars), as well a statement signed by a group of 43 Australian-based experts in genocide and human rights, who urged SBS to recognise the Armenian Genocide and report on the events without qualifiers or euphemisms, as per the network’s policy when referring to the Jewish Holocaust.

Despite this protest from unimpeachable scholars on genocide, Ebeid responded to Keneally’s reference to the letter and statement by stating: “... I have seen that and I have seen that it’s been signed by 43 scholars and historians. And I can assure you that I could probably find another 80 scholars and historians that would deny that it was called a genocide.”

The joint statement from the ANC-AU, AHC and AUA reads: "With this irresponsible and offensive statement, Mr. Ebeid has questioned the credibility of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, which includes luminaries such as Israel Charny and Roger Smith, while by specifically attacking the statement of the 43 Australian academic signatories, he has suggested the likes of Professor The Hon. Gareth Evans, Professor Colin Tatz and Professor Peter Stanley are simply representatives of one side of a two-sided argument on genocide."

"This is simply unacceptable and downright offensive to the many thousands of the descendants of these crimes against humanity living in Australia. If Mr. Ebeid feels assured that he can find 80 equally credible scholars to those aforementioned, who deny the Armenian Genocide, we would like to see him produce that list. As the CEO of a public broadcaster, it is in the public interest for our leading public servants to serve the public interests and back their outlandish claims with action."



After highlighting further inconsistencies in Ebeid's testimony, the strongly-worded statement from ANC-AU, AHC and AUA adds: "Armenian-Australians, Greek-Australians and Assyrian-Australians are asking why does Mr. Ebeid continue this stubborn editorial policy positioning, despite the glaringly obvious inconsistencies in his justification of said policy?"

"The SBS Charter states: 'The principal function of the SBS is to provide multilingual and multicultural radio, television and digital media services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia's multicultural society'."

"On behalf of the Armenian-Australian, Greek-Australian and Assyrian-Australian communities, we state that this unacceptable position appeasing genocide deniers does nothing to 'reflect Australia’s multicultural society'. We call on Mr. Ebeid to change his policy immediately, or for the SBS Board to take that decision out of his hands."

The community groups had worked closely with the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (AIHGS), in particular director Meher Grigorian, on advancing this issue into the public domain.

ANC-AU Executive Director, Haig Kayserian stated that this collaborative effort will continue while thanking Keneally for asking these "very important questions".

"Senator Keneally has taken up a foundation issue for the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian communities in Australia by asking these very important questions to Mr. Ebeid, who has been forced to answer them on the public record," Kayserian said. "The irresponsible and unacceptable responses by Mr. Ebeid need to be further unpacked and our community organisations make clear with our statement that the SBS CEO is falling short of his responsibilities by forcing his staff to use language that appeases deniers of the Armenian Genocide, who are equally abhorrent as deniers of the Jewish Holocaust."

Kayserian added: "There is much more work to be done, and we at the Armenian National Committee - along with the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Australian Hellenic Council and the Assyrian Universal Alliance - are committed to redoubling our efforts on behalf of our respective communities."


COMPLETE STATEMENT BELOW



JOINT STATEMENT


Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Communities Reject Appeasement of Genocide Denial of SBS CEO


As the public affairs committees of the Armenian-Australian, Greek-Australian and Assyrian-Australian communities, we jointly condemn SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) CEO, Mr. Michael Ebeid’s stubborn insistence to appease the genocide denialist viewpoint of the Turkish Government and its supporters, with respect to the genocide of the indigenous Christian population of the Ottoman Empire during and after World War I.


For the second consecutive year, Mr. Ebeid’s defence of the public broadcaster’s editorial policy of using qualifiers when referring to the Armenian Genocide, thus appeasing the genocide denialist viewpoint, has been the subject of Senate Estimates questioning. On the 23rd of May 2018, Senator Kristina Keneally took Mr. Ebeid to task on this position, which forces staff to use the following sentence when referring to the Genocide which took the lives of 1.5 million Armenians and over 1 million Greeks and Assyrians: “mass killing of Armenians considered by many to have been a genocide, which Turkey denies”.

These questions from Senator Keneally come one year after the first Senate Estimates challenge to Mr. Ebeid of this position by then-Senator Scott Ludlam, where the CEO of the public broadcaster argued that “... this [Genocide] is a matter of contention that historians the world over dispute...".

Between the questions from Senators Ludlam and Keneally, Mr. Ebeid received a letter of protest from the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS - the leading world association of recognised genocide scholars), as well a statement signed by a group of 43 Australian-based experts in genocide and human rights, who urged SBS to recognise the Armenian Genocide and report on the events without qualifiers or euphemisms, as per the network’s policy when referring to the Jewish Holocaust. In particularly the letter from the IAGS noted: “The sticking point for us as genocide studies scholars is your argument that academically recognised historians dispute the genocide. This is a falsity. There are a handful of historians who deny the genocide who are not recognised as scholarly academics by the majority of genocide studies scholars.”

Despite this overwhelming weight of scholarly insistence that the Genocide of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians by the Ottoman Empire is indisputable, Mr. Ebeid responded to Senator Keneally’s reference to the statements from these unimpeachable referees by flippantly stating: “... I have seen that and I have seen that it’s been signed by 43 scholars and historians. And I can assure you that I could probably find another 80 scholars and historians that would deny that it was called a genocide.”

With this irresponsible and offensive statement, Mr. Ebeid has questioned the credibility of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, which includes luminaries such as Israel Charny and Roger Smith, while by specifically attacking the statement of the 43 signatories of the Australian statement, he has suggested the likes of Professor The Hon. Gareth Evans, Professor Colin Tatz and Professor Peter Stanley are simply representatives of one side of a two-sided argument on genocide.

This is simply unacceptable and downright offensive to the the many thousands of the descendants of these crimes against humanity living in Australia. If Mr. Ebeid feels assured that he can find 80 equally credible scholars to those aforementioned, who deny the Armenian Genocide, we would like to see him produce that list. As the CEO of a public broadcaster, it is in the public interest for our leading public servants to serve the public interests and back their outlandish claims with action.

Under further questioning by Senator Keneally, Mr. Ebeid repeated that the Australian government’s position on the Genocide of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians is among the “variables” considered when SBS drafts its editorial policy on controversial issues. He listed other “variables”, including whether the nation or party accused of genocide has admitted to committing the genocide, stating that the German Government’s acceptance of the Jewish Holocaust is one of the reasons SBS does not use qualifiers when referring to the Jewish Holocaust.

Does this mean that SBS will appease deniers of the Jewish Holocaust if the German Government did not admit to the crimes of Nazi Germany?

The policy of denial by the Turkish Government of the genocide of the indigenous Christian population of the Ottoman Empire is no less repugnant and offensive than the denial of the Holocaust by neo-Nazis and fringe elements.  Genocide denial does not become acceptable (and a basis of media policy) just because it is undertaken by a State. A State, no less, which has one of the worst human rights records around the world today, and which has imprisoned hundreds of journalists and tens of thousands of other members of its own population merely because they disagree with the Turkish State.

Another “variable” Mr. Ebeid lists as an influencer of his network’s decision on editorial policy is the position of other media entities, where he told Senator Keneally that the New York Times was among the publications which does not correctly depict the Genocide. However, the New York Times has a well-publicised editorial policy unequivocally directing the use of the term Armenian Genocide without qualifiers. The New York Times is joined with a SBS-contradicting policy by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Boston Globe, LA Times, Haaretz and many others.

Armenian-Australians, Greek-Australians and Assyrian-Australians are asking why does Mr. Ebeid continue this stubborn editorial policy positioning, despite the glaringly obvious inconsistencies in his justification of said policy?

The SBS Charter states: “The principal function of the SBS is to provide multilingual and multicultural radio, television and digital media services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia's multicultural society.”

On behalf of the Armenian-Australian, Greek-Australian and Assyrian-Australian communities, we state that this unacceptable position appeasing genocide deniers does nothing to “reflect Australia’s multicultural society”. We call on Mr. Ebeid to change his policy immediately, or for the SBS Board to take that decision out of his hands.

Dated the 25th of May, 2018


[signed]
Mr. Haig Kayserian (Armenian National Committee of Australia)



[signed]
Mr. George Vellis (Australian Hellenic Council of NSW)



[signed]
Mr. Hermiz Shahen (Assyrian Universal Alliance - Australian Chapter)


[END]