PBS has received a number of complaints (163 e-mails, according to a spokeswoman) about their planned panel discussion following the airing of a documentary, The Armenian Genocide.
The documentary and discussion are slated for April 17, which precedes by a week the date marked by Armenians (April 24) as the start of the 1915 slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks.
According to the hosting Web site for an online petition, 6,702 signatures have also been collected by either a group or individual identifying themselves as Armenian Tidorts protesting the panel, citing the presence of two "genocide deniers" among the panelists.
PBS spokeswoman Jan McNamara says that, although PBS agrees with most historians that the genocide is estabished history, "we also feel there honestly are questions surrounding this issue. The Turksh government still denies that it took place. We felt it is important to continue to discuss it and shed light on the issues."
Below is a copy of the petition:
To: Ms. Jacoba Atlas, Senior Vice President of PBS programming
It is welcome news that PBS is planning to broadcast Andrew Goldberg's "The Armenian Genocide" documentary on April 17, 2006. However, we are immensely hurt by the news that this will be followed by a 25 minute long discussion by a panel that includes two genocide deniers.
We are confident that the Armenian Genocide scholars will present a superb scholarly case, but we strongly feel that debating the Armenian Genocide is akin to arguing about the Jewish Holocaust in order to project a sense of balance. Would PBS ever contemplate such a program?
Turkish denials of the genocide are part of a state-sponsored policy of propaganda that serves only the interests of Turkey. The historical truth of the Armenian genocide has been established beyond reasonable doubt by abundant documentary and eye-witness evidence from thousands of sources. Furthermore, denialist views of genocide are already included in the film; thus the panel discussion would serve to emphasize the Turkish state's official position and undermine the non political nature of your programming.
Broadcasting the panel discussion may result in a substantial loss of support from viewers of PBS.
We the undersigned urge you not to approve the airing of the panel discussion.
We thank you for your indulgence.