Turkish Denial Campaign Continues in California
Last month, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) reported that Turkey's ongoing global campaign to suppress the truth about the Armenian Genocide was dealt a major blow in a U.S. District Court. Chief Judge Mark Wolf issued a ruling in favor of the Massachusetts Department of Education (Department), which allows the Department to continue teaching the facts of the Armenian Genocide, and other crimes against humanity, in public schools across the Commonwealth, as constitutionally protected government speech.
Shortly after this landmark decision, as part of an ongoing campaign to derail human rights education, the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) indicated, through a June 23 letter to the editor of the Boston Globe from its attorney Harry Silverglate, that it intended to appeal Chief Judge Wolf's decision in the case of Griswold v Driscoll. The appeal was officially filed on July 13, in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts.
"The Armenian Assembly appreciates the court's ruling in the matter and will work to ensure that it is sustained on appeal. This decision clearly demonstrates to Turkey and its revisionist allies that history cannot be rewritten to further Ankara's state-sponsored denial campaign," said Assembly Board of Trustees Chairman Hirair Hovnanian. Carolyn Mugar, the Board's President, added, "Given the overwhelming historical and legal evidence documenting the incontestable fact of the Armenian Genocide, this ruling is a victory for all those concerned about genocide education and prevention."
When this suit was initiated four years ago, the Assembly immediately responded by hiring one of the nation's preeminent First Amendment expert, Duke University Professor Irwin Chemerinsky, and co-counsel Arnold Rosenfeld of the firm K&L Gates LLP. Throughout this process, the Assembly, along with others, challenged the ATAA at every turn by filing a series of pleadings including an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief. The brief was intended to assist the Court in bringing the case to a conclusion in favor of the Commonwealth.
Assembly's Board Vice-Chair and Counselor Robert A. Kaloosdian chaired the committee that responded to the lawsuit: "Through the federal court's ruling, the Griswold case rejected ATAA's attempt to require the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Education to insert 'contra-genocide' citations into its curriculum guide. Judge Wolf wrote in his decision that 'plaintiffs do not have a right to receive contra-genocide information in the classroom.' In addition he wrote that 'the curriculum guide required defendants to include materials concerning the 'Armenian Genocide.'"
"This ruling sends a message not only to the ATAA, but also to others who may seek to distort history," said Krikorian. "This was certainly a direct blow to ATAA's plan to get a favorable ruling here and then repeat the tactic in every school district across the country. The court's decision cuts them off, destroys that plan and protects the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Department of Education from being subject to manipulation from a genocide denialist organization, which is carrying out its campaign of dishonesty from coast to coast," added Krikorian.
ATAA Threatens to Oppose Human Rights Education and Passage of California Genocide Awareness Act
At the California Senate Education Committee public hearing, the ATAA and Armenian Genocide denier Bruce Fein testified against the passage of the Genocide Awareness Act. He also questioned whether the mistreatment of the Armenians, and the parallel cases in Cambodia and Darfur were genocide, despite the fact that the California legislature has repeatedly recognized and annually commemorated the Armenian Genocide since 1968.