Row over film about Armenians

ISTANBUL – The Turkish Education Ministry has stopped distributing a documentary about the events leading up to the mass killings of Armenians in the latter days of the Ottoman Empire, almost a hundred years ago. The film, distributed to primary schools, was heavily criticised because it could stir up hatred between different ethnic groups, daily newspaper Radikal reports today.

The distribution to schools of the documentary film ‘The true face of the Armenian issue’ started several months ago.  The most important criticism is that the film, made by the army general staff, only gives the Turkish state version of the events that lead to the killing of between 500,000 and one and a half million Armenians. The film speaks of ‘Armenian terrorist gangs’ that set Turkish villages on fire, and about the ‘rebellious nature of the Armenian people’, without shedding any light on the death march that thousands of Armenians were forced to take to the borders of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey denies any genocide, while many Armenians claim there was.

Intellectuals and scientists believed the film incited hatred among different ethnic groups in schools. Earlier this week 500 concerned Armenians wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Erdogan, calling on him to stop the distribution of the film. Especially in classes where Turkish and Armenian children watched the documentary together, Armenian children would feel ashamed, guilty and left out. Even though the ministry claims the film was not meant to be shown in class, it admits is was used that way and could have caused harm.

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