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Armenia: CNN Genocide Coverage Controversy

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Too short for Armenians and too long for the Turkish government, a two-hour CNN documentary by Christiane Amanpour on genocide [1] includes a 45-second mention [2] of the WWI extermination of Ottoman Empire's indigenous Armenian population. Premiered on December 4, 2008, Scream Bloody Murder has made many Armenian bloggers angry, leading them to recall Hitler's rhetoric for impunity, “Who, after all, remembers the Armenians?”

Armenia-based blogger, photographer and designer Arsineh had concerns even before watching the documentary. Writing on Ars Eye View, she says [3]:


I'm preparing to watch the program for myself, but given this much prior information, I have to ask. If you are going to cover the epidemic of genocide, starting with the campaign to criminalize genocide, continue to show the struggle so many have endured to (as you titled your program) “SCREAM BLOODY MURDER” while the world turned a deaf ear only to allow genocide to continue around the world, shouldn't you be talking about the biggest cover up of genocide, the very one which inspired Lemkin to coin the word, the very one which also inspired Adolf Hitler to follow through with the Holocaust? Afterall, it's this denial that scares CNN from ever using the word “Genocide” in their reporting on related matters.


She also posts a video question to CNN [4].

Writing in detail, West of Igdir says a previous CNN press release suggested the coverage of the Armenian Genocide was going to be more intense [5].


The release specifically mentioned [6] Armenia as one of the cases of genocide it would be examining. This naturally created some excitement that finally a major news organization would be dedicating a program partly to the so often overlooked Armenian Genocide of 1915 and inform a nationwide audience about it.


I had been feeling hopeful about the documentary and might have given it more of a pass on this omition until I saw this interactive map [7] on the section of Scream Bloody Murder section of CNN's website about the world's killing fields. It appears that despite the fact when it had first been announced Armenia was prominently mentioned as one of the examples of genocide that would be covered, it was overlooked as being pinpointed on the interactive map as an example of genocide.


Clearly the documentary did not go unnoticed in Turkey, despite the fact it says almost nothing about the Armenian Genocide, as the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet yesterday declared “Genocide feature worrisome.” [8]


Sevana at Life in the Armenian Diaspora is also unhappy [9].

When will this second class genocide victim status end? I guess CNN is afraid that CNN-Turk will be cut off the air if they include the Armenians… how very, very sad.

Another diasporan voice, Seta’s Armenian Blog posts an action alert [10] by the Armenian National Committee of America to protest CNN’s almost exclusion of the Armenian Genocide.

Dozens of users of CNN's iReport have also reacted to the documentary by posting comments on anchor Christiane Amanpour’s page [11], most of them condemning a short mention of the Armenian Genocide.

One user writes [12]:

[…] It[‘]s unfortunate that today, Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, or whatever new term one uses for this act, still happens today and yet nothing is really done to stop it. Hitler once said (referring to the Armenian Genocide) “Who remembers the Armenians”… and yet, I'm still waiting for someone to answer that question. I thought it might be answered in “Scream Bloody Murder”, but it was not, and again the question remains unanswered….

That's Sprezzatura is angry [13] not only about the brief mention of Armenians but also because there was no mention of Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time.


Amanpour, by the power of her camera and microphone, breathed life to the screaming voices of the forgotten activists, and deservedly amplified the “bloody murder” calls of the moral few, such as: Eli Wiesel, Father Francois Ponchaud, Peter Galbraith, Richard Holbrook, Romeo Dallaire and other unsung heroes, but Amanpour chose dead silence instead to the screams of Henry Morgenthau, the US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time of the Armenian Genocide — Morgenthau too, ‘screamed bloody murder.’ Give that honorable man some credit and the 1.5 million Armenian victims some respect.


In addition, the blog calls the documentary a “Bloody Shame Whisper.”

Shameful in the eyes of many Armenians, even the short mention of the WWI genocide, nonetheless, has angered nationalist Turks. The blog of the Turkish Coalition of America, for instance, posts YouTube videos [14] by Bruce Fein, a conservative Harvard lawyer with strong links to Turkey, challenging CNN’s inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the documentary.

Furthermore, the blog of The New York Turkish Times posts an action alert [15], apparently a letter that a Turkish organization sent to CNN before the broadcast, asking supporters to sign the letter which says it “condemn[s] CNN for its decision to broadcast a two-hour special report titled ‘Screamed [sic] Bloody Murder’ that will include a discussion about ‘So-Called Armenian Genocide’ on December 4, 2008.”


Genocide is a legal term. The only legally recognized genocides are the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide. How can CNN Intl Correspondent Christiane Amanpour criminalize denial of a so called genocide that does not even legally and historically exist? As you probably might know according to article 2 of the UN Convention on Genocide of 1948 “there has to be an intension to exterminate a race, ethnic group..”

While there is a clear international law for the term genocide, why don't Armenians take the so-called case to an international court.


I can promise you that broadcasting this “so-called” documentary will result in a substantial loss of support from viewers of CNN. As the President of FTAA [Federation of Turkish American Associations], I urge you not to approve the airing of the “Screamed [sic] Bloody Murder” that plans to air on December 4th.