Editor’s Note: In response to a grossly inaccurate and fact-less opinion piece written by columnist Doug Saunders on October 19, 2013 in the Globe and Mail, the Armenian National Committee of Toronto sent the Globe and Mail’s editorial staff the following letter.
October 22, 2013
Ms. Sylvia Stead Public Editor
The Globe and Mail
Dear Ms. Sylvia Stead
On behalf of the Armenian National Committee of Toronto (ANCT), I am emailing you to express our disappointment over Doug Saunders’ column published on October 19, 2013, entitled “A Fight Over The Word ‘Genocide’ Is No Way To End The Aboriginal Crisis”.
I join my counterparts across the country, the Armenian National Committee of Canada, the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto, and the Sara Corning Centre for Genocide Education, in expressing my disappointment that your newspaper would carelessly allow such an article to be published. Mr. Saunders’ article is in line with the Turkish government’s denialist perspective rather than that of a legitimate journalist. He states that “Many people, especially Armenians, consider it a genocide, although this definition is controversial” – a statement that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, to honour the 50th Anniversary of the U.N. Genocide Convention on April 24, 1998, 150 concerned writers and scholars commemorated the Armenian Genocide of 1915 with a statement condemning the Turkish Governments denial of the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian Genocide has been recognized by dozens of Western governments, including the governments of Canada, Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, despite the tens of millions of dollars spent by the perpetrators, the Turkish Government, in an effort to make the issue somehow seem “controversial”.
Instead of applauding the Canadian Government for taking a firm and courageous stand on the issue of human rights, Mr. Saunders disgracefully mentions that it “has not gone over well in Turkey”, as though this may be more important than the systematic annihilation of millions of people. Turkey is a country in which journalists, academics, and authors such as Hrant Dink, Ragip Zarakolu and Orhan Pamuk have been fined, imprisoned, and assassinated for speaking out about the Armenian Genocide. However, Mr. Saunders makes no mention of this. Perhaps pointing out this truth may also not go over well in Turkey.
The writer then goes on to draw a distinction between the Armenian Genocide and the “unambiguous genocides” of European Jews and Tutsis in Rwanda. One wonders what sources Mr. Saunders had referred to when reaching his conclusions as to which genocides are legitimate. A further irony to his statement is that Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term genocide, did so largely based on the Armenian experience.
We are also disappointed in your paper for printing such a baseless article, for it has historically been at the forefront of this matter for almost a century. On January 9, 1920, the predecessor to the current newspaper, The Globe launched “The Call From Armenia” campaign which eventually raised $300,000 to help the lives of Armenians during the genocide. Further, on April 24, 2004, your paper issued an editorial entitled “Why Shouldn’t MPs Acknowledge Genocide?” where you stated that “The genocide of as many as 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey was the first attempt to murder an entire nation in a century riven with them. It was a blueprint for Hitler.” It is quite sad to see one of your journalists watering down your principled stance through this article.
While I remain quite offended by this article, I believe it does serve as an opportunity for something positive. The Armenian National Committee of Toronto would like to see The Globe And Mail provide space for an article that presents an report about the Armenian Genocide including: the causes, the evidence and facts, and the industry of denial. It is only with the courage to report the truth and unequivocally call a spade a spade that humanity may move on to a world with no more genocides.
Chairperson, Armenian National Committee of Toronto
cc: Phillip Crawley, Publisher and CEO John Stackhouse, Editor in Chief
Mr. Saunders’ original article can be found by clicking here.