Monday, January 21, 2008

Turkish Ultranationalists Try to Silence Prominent Canadians

Armenian National Committee of Canada
January 18, 2008
Comité National Arménien du Canada
Contact: Kevork Manguelian

Turkish Ultranationalists Try to Silence Prominent Canadians

Toronto—The Turkish Government’s propaganda machine tried to intimidate and silence many prominent Canadians who had come forth to make deputations during the monthly meeting of the Toronto District School Board's (TDSB) program and services committee.

During the Jan. 16 meeting the TDSB committee provided an opportunity to two Turkish representatives (Ozay Mehmet of the Council of Turkish Canadians, and Lale Eskicioglu) and four Canadians (Prof. Frank Chalk, director of the Montréal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies; David Warner, former Speaker of the Ontario Legislative Assembly; Leo Adler, prominent criminal lawyer and human rights advocate; and Hon. Jim Karygiannis, MP) to present their points of view on the board’s Grad 11 'Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications' curriculum.

The Turkish representatives protested the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the curriculum. The prominent Canadians’ group praised the TDSB for its moral fortitude, vision, and commitment to develop such a timely curriculum and asked for the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the curriculum.

Mr. Warner read a letter signed by prominent Canadians from all walks of life, urging the TDSB to “stand firm by its decision and not to be swayed by politically-motivated pressure groups.” Among the signatories were Stephen Lewis, Gerald Caplan, Jack Layton, Bob Rae, Joy Kogawa, Amir Hassanpour, Jacques Kornberg.

During the presentations of Chalk, Warner, Adler and Karygiannis, ultranationalist Turks hackled the speakers and tried to stop them from speaking. Several times committee chair, trustee Chris Bolton, was forced to call for order and ask the Turkish representatives not to disrupt the meeting.

After the meeting, members of the Turkish group approached some of the pro-Genocide inclusion speakers and taunted them with abuse and profanities. The scene was reminiscent of the trials of many righteous Turkish individuals who in recent years have challenged the Turkish Government on its denial of the Armenian Genocide and have been silenced under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code.

At the meeting, Aris Babikian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, tabled a petition in support of the curriculum. The petition carried 2,643 signatures. Among the signatories were many teachers from the TDSB system.

For the past two years the TDSB has been developing 'Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications' curriculum for Grade 11 students. The course comprises of three genocide case studies: the Armenian Genocide; the Holocaust; the Rwandan Genocide, in addition to other cases of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

The course has been approved by the Ontario Minister of Education. An overwhelming majority of principals, teachers and program directors have commended the TDSB for this timely project. They have also indicated that they are eager to teach the program.

In the last two months the Turkish denial machine has launched a vicious campaign of falsehood, misrepresentation, unsubstantiated accusations, innuendo and revisionist historical discourse to persuade the TDSB to remove the Armenian Genocide from the curriculum.


The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues.

Regional Chapters/Sections régionales

Montréal – Laval – Ottawa – Toronto – Hamilton – Cambridge – St. Catharines – Windsor – Vancouver



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