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PBS: Armenian Genocide Denialist Forum

Location: Washington, DC

PBS: ARMENIAN GENOCIDE DENIALIST FORUM -- (House of Representatives - March 29, 2006)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to express my extreme disappointment with the Public Broadcasting System's decision to give a forum to Armenian genocide denialists following the April 17 broadcast of Andrew Goldberg's documentary, ``The Armenian Genocide.''

PBS should be commended for deciding to run Goldberg's documentary. However, the documentary should stand on its own. I am troubled by the network's decision to conduct a panel discussion immediately after the documentary that focuses on Turkey's role in the death of Armenians during and after World War I.

The 25-minute panel discussion has generated an outcry because the panel will include two scholars who deny that 1.5 million Armenian civilians were killed in eastern Turkey from 1915 to 1923.

I urge PBS to reconsider the inclusion of the panel discussion. Despite the Turkish Government's continued concerted effort to deny and alter history, there is no serious academic historian willing to dispute the genocide, or extermination, of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923. There are literally thousands of pages of documents in our national archive confirming the Armenian genocide.

Prominent citizens of the day, including America's ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, and Britain's Lord Bryce, reported on the massacres in great detail. Morgenthau was appalled at what he would later call the ``sadistic orgies'' of rape, torture and murder. Lord Bryce, a former British Ambassador to the United States, worked to raise awareness of and money for the victims of what he called ``the most colossal crime in the history of the world.''

In October 1915, the Rockefeller Foundation contributed $30,000, a sum worth more than $.5 million today, to a relief fund for Armenia.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that despite overwhelming documentation and eyewitness proof of the Armenian genocide, Mr. Goldberg's documentary includes denialist views to present a comprehensive perspective. This completely alleviates the need to include PBS's panel discussion. It is exceptionally inappropriate for PBS to include these two nonobjective scholars on the public airwaves so they can spread their political propaganda.

And, Mr. Speaker, I would note that I would not feel any different about this issue if we were discussing Darfur, Rwanda or the Nazi Holocaust. Genocide deniers should not have a forum. The quest for fair and balanced information does not give a license to propagate false, misleading and offensive information about historical facts that relate to genocide.

It is said that PBS continues to defend its decision to provide air time to Armenian genocide deniers; however, it is encouraging to see a growing number of PBS affiliates refusing to air the panel. And I want to commend each of the 25 affiliates who have already announced their intentions to air the Armenian genocide documentary without the inclusion of the panel discussion.

Mr. Speaker, it is important that we urge PBS to maintain its commitment to public service, but no Member of Congress should accept PBS's decision to give credence to the denial of the deliberate murder of 1.5 million people, and I hope that PBS will reconsider its current position.

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