a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Now it’s fit to print: Armenian genocide

Posted by Thomas Nephew on April 19th, 2004

The New York chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America has issued a press release reporting that the New York Times has revised its policy on the use of the term “Armenian genocide”:

According to a news release by the International Association of Genocide Scholars, The New York Times revised guideline for journalists states that “after careful study of scholarly definitions of ‘genocide,’ we have decided to accept the term in references to the Turks’ mass destruction of Armenians in and around 1915.” The policy goes on to note that “the expression ‘Armenian genocide’ may be used freely and should not be qualified with phrasing like ‘what Armenians call,’ etc.”

The New York Times guidelines continue, noting that, “by most historical accounts, the Ottoman empire killed more than one million Armenians in a campaign of death and mass deportation aimed at eliminating the Armenian population throughout what is now Turkey.” Finally it advises journalists that “while we may of course report Turkish denials on those occasions when they are relevant, we should not couple them with the historians’ findings, as if they had equal weight.”

Way to go, New York Times. And high time. While some Turks are now speaking out for an honest reappraisal of their country’s history, the Turkish government and establishment has engaged in constant, tenacious, and all too often successful efforts to deny the reality of the Armenian genocide of 1915-1918. That campaign has been an ongoing insult to the memory of the victims of that genocide and a source of real pain to their descendants, and has probably been part and parcel of Turkey’s pattern of human rights abuses against Kurds and political dissidents.

If my father-in-law were still alive today, I know he’d be extremely pleased to see this victory. Here’s to you, Arnie.

Additional links:

UPDATE, 4/26: A New Yorker “Talk of the Town” item by Gary Bass confirms the story, and specifically credits the Boston Globe and Times executive editor Bill Keller for the policy change. Via Amygdala.
EDIT, 4/26: The EU resolution was passed in 2002, not 2004.

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