Ms. Syvlia Stead,
The Globe and Mail
Dear Ms. Sylvia Stead,
As a Canadian organization advocating for genocide education in Canada, we were disappointed to see the recent article by Doug Saunders in the Globe and Mail, who unfortunately questions the need to identify the Armenian Genocide for what it is. We would like to add our voice to the letter sent to you by the Armenian National Committee of Canada, Armenian National Committee of Toronto, and the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto.
In his article titled “Genocide: Is it a question worth answering?”, Mr. Saunders, on several occasions, questions whether the use of the term genocide is appropriate when referring to the Armenian case.
On one occasion he goes as far as presenting the recognition of the Armenian Genocide as an injustice to “unambiguous” genocides such as that of the Jews and Rwandans. First and foremost, he fails to recognize the unambiguous nature of the Armenian Genocide. He then goes as far as placing guilt on the shoulders of Armenians and many others who by recognizing the Armenian Genocide apparently cause injustice to victims of “unambiguous” genocides. Lastly, he insults Jews and Rwandans by using their name in making his derogatory point. One would wonder how Holocaust survivor, novelist, professor and political activist Elie Wiesel would define the Armenian Genocide and how he would feel about being used as a pawn in this argument? Wiesel was among the 126 Holocaust scholars who signed a joint declaration affirming that the Armenian Genocide was an “incontestable historical fact” in other words “unambiguous”. In fact he has also said "Genocide kills twice, the second time by silence." when referring to the denial of the Armenian Genocide.
According to the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), the leading authority on genocide scholarship, "There may be differing interpretations of genocide-how and why the Armenian Genocide happened, but to deny its factual and moral reality as genocide is not to engage in scholarship but in propaganda and efforts to absolve the perpetrator, blame the victims, and erase the ethical meaning of this history."
Media is often used in Canadian classrooms for a variety of reasons. For instance, articles published by your predecessor, The Globe, are often used when teaching students about eyewitness accounts and primary sources during the Armenian Genocide and the positive role media plays during international crises. The article in question, for instance, would be used to display examples of modern day denial of genocides. Genocide scholar Gregory Stanton states, claiming that what has happened doesn’t fit the definition of genocide is one of the twelve ways to deny genocide. Mr. Saunders’ views fit under this form of denial Stanton labels “definitionalist” denial.
As a strong educational tool, the media has the responsibility to provide accurate and clear information and not misguided opinion presented as fact. With this in mind, we are requesting that the Globe and Mail provide space for an article that clearly represents the newspaper’s traditional and factual reporting on this matter that dates back to the late 19th century.
Raffi Sarkissian, OCT, BEd, MEd
Founder and Chair
Sara Corning Centre for Genocide Education