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    Academics angered by film’s screening

    Hürriyet Daily News
    19 Şubat 2009 - 00:00Son Güncelleme : 18 Şubat 2009 - 20:00

    ISTANBUL - Academics and Armenian citizens are angered after it was revealed that the Ministry of Education sent a controversial documentary about the Armenian question to all elementary schools in Turkey.

    A written statement sent by the Ministry of Education to all elementary schools at the end of January, said "Sarı Gelin -- The True Face of the Armenian Question," a documentary filmed by the General Staff, was sent to all schools by the Ministry of Education on Jun. 25, 2008. 

    The documentary was criticized by academics for reflecting the official ideology of the Turkish Republic about the incidents of 1915 and undermining the claims of an alleged Armenian "genocide". The documentary mentioned the 1915 incidents. It is mostly criticized as unscientific and weak in its claims because it exaggerated the deaths of Turks while undermining Armenian deaths in an attempt to dismiss Armenians claims of "genocide".

    "The students were forced to watch that documentary, which indeed had no scientific background. That would only increase hatred and discrimination against the Armenians," the History Foundation of Turkey said in a written statement on Tuesday.

    Also, 500 Armenians and intellectuals have sent an open letter to the prime minister protesting this incident, daily Radikal reported yesterday. The letter asked the prime minister to exempt at least Armenian schools and Armenian students who attended the same classes with Turkish students from watching the documentary in order to "prevent them feeling guilty, ashamed and excluded from the others."

    The statement sent by the ministry requested that school directors show the film to all students and send a "conclusive report" back to the related administration by Feb 29, 2009.

    Totalitarian state

    For academics, involving children in a conflicting situation is wrong, according to Ali Bayramoğlu, a columnist at daily Yenişafak "This is to make the official ideology and the public opinion exactly the same. This is similar to the practices of a totalitarian state," said Bayramoğlu, adding that it is undemocratic that Armenian schools and Armenian students attending the same classes with Turks were told to watch the documentary. "Imagine if Turks living in Bulgaria were forced to watch a documentary saying that ’Turks have been the cruel toward Bulgarians in history.’ Would you accept that?" Bayramoğlu said to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

    Mensur Akgün, an academic from Istanbul Kültür University, said although he did not watch the documentary, he guessed it was a type of propaganda. "In a period when relations between Armenia and Turkey are improving, it is wrong to distribute propaganda materials, especially to children," said Akgün.

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