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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who branded the legislation “discriminatory and racist ...
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Children Exposed to Racist Propaganda Movie - 18 February 2009, Wednesday
A "documentary" on the events of 1915 prepared by the Turkish army incites protest by NGOs and individuals. The nation-wide showing of the propaganda material in schools will instil hatred in a whole generation they warn.
The General Staff of the Turkish Army has prepared a six-part “documentary”, which was sent to all primary schools through the province authorities of the Ministry of Education. The DVDs are to be shown to children “at a convenient time”, and schools are to report back on the effects of the film by 2 March, so a letter sent to schools by the Ministry in January.
One of Turkey's most controversial issues
The film is named after a well-loved folk song, “Sarı Gelin” (Blonde Bride), a song whose melody is known in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia, yet, so the vehement critics, the film has nothing to do with promoting intercultural understanding.
The full title of this “documentary” is “Sarı Gelin: The Inside Story of the Armenian Problem”, and it was sent out to primary schools in June 2008.
It deals with the events of 1915, when, so many Armenian's and also an increasing number of Turks say, millions of Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire were forcibly sent into exile across to Syria. Definitions of the event range from a genocide (i.e. a deliberate plan to eradicate an ethnic group) to claims that the government was at the least negligent in letting so many people starve, die of exhaustion or be killed by gangs. The Turkish official discourse has long been to deny any wrongdoing, and rather blame nationalist Armenian gangs for causing upheaval in the Ottoman Empire and killing Turkish civilians.
A recent rapprochement between Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Armenian Serzh Sargsyan, as well as an initiative by Turkish intellectuals to apologise for the events of 1915 seemed to be indications of a lessening of polarisation. However, critics of this “documentary” say that it reiterates the Turkish nationalist stance.
"A generation fed on hatred"
The education trade union Eğitim-Sen has demanded that schools immediately stop showing this film. Trade union leader Zübeyde Kılıç told bianet that their report on the film would be published within a week, and that they may go to court in order to prevent further screenings at schools. According to Kılıç, the film would teach 12 million children, aged 6-14, to hate Armenian's and anyone who is different. It would “create a generation fed on hatred.”
She added, “These children are at an age when they accept information without interpreting it, when they accept what they are told as the truth, and when things are stored in their memory. It will be impossible for a child watching this film not to feel hatred for Armenian's.”
“As for the Armenian children (i.e. citizens of Turkey who will also be exposed to this film), they may be marginalised or discriminated against afterwards. This worry may lead to them hiding their identities.” Kılıç has called on an education which would teach the events of 1915, as well as other controversial parts of Turkey’s history, in a way that would heal wounds. “But this film encourages conflict.”
"Human rights violation"
The foundation added, “This documentary is using a language of hostility and discrimination to sow seeds of hatred in a society where hostility towards Armenian's exists already. The ‘justified reasons’ for this hostile attitude towards people who are ‘not one of us’ is built on manipulative and selective ‘arguments’ put forward in the film. The young pupils watching this film will accept those claims as the truth.”
The History Foundation further said, “All these children and their families are citizens with equal rights in this country. It should be expected from the Ministry of Education that it would respect such sensitivities in its practices. A safe environment, and societal peace, can only be created when education practices are in tune with such an understanding of citizenship. Damaged children’s brains can only stand in the way of societal peace.” Full Article
Court Did not Stop Racist Documentation "Sarı Gelin" The case filed by the International Hrant Dink Foundation against the Istanbul Provincial Directorate of National Education related to the screening of the controversial "Sarı Gelin" documentary at Turkish schools was dismissed by the Administrative Court. Read further ....