Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Interview on UPN (KCOP-TV) On the Armenian Genocide

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

FOX-TV (KTTV, Channel 11) and UPN (KCOP-TV, Channel 13) in Los Angeles, in their evening news hours on April 23, interviewed this writer on the eve of the 91st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. During both interviews, live footage was aired via satellite of the procession of hundreds of thousands of Armenians at the Genocide Memorial Monument in Yerevan.

The transcript of the 6-minute long in-studio interview with FOX-TV was published in an earlier column. Here is the transcript of the more than 5-minute long in-studio interview with KCOP-TV:

Anchor 1: Joining us now in studio to help us put some perspective on the anniversary is Harut Sassounian of the United Armenian Fund.

Anchor 2: Let's start off by just getting all of our viewers up to speed on exactly what happened with the Armenian Genocide. Can you quickly tell us what happened, where, and when this all occurred?

Sassounian: Armenians lived in their historic homeland for thousands of years. They were later on occupied by what turned out to be the Ottoman Empire. On the eve of World War I, while the world was busy with its own fate, the Turkish government decided to eliminate the Armenians, as a result of which 1.5 million Armenians were deported and killed from what was historic Armenia.

Anchor 1: We have already mentioned that Turkey does not call it genocide. How do they define these events at this time, and what would it mean politically if they do?

Sassounian: They -- the whole world, including the Turkish leaders -- recognize the facts, but they just don't want to admit it. For political and psychological reasons, they [the Turks] think that it would be like a scar on their history, if they recognize it. But I think they would be better off if they recognize it because they're trying to join the European Union, and they would be classified in the rank of civilized European countries. Just like Germany recognized the Holocaust, Turkey should recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Anchor 2: We had some live pictures earlier from Yerevan. Can you tell us what's going on there right now, because it is the next day -- its actual day.

Sassounian: It's already April 24th. Its the 91st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Yerevan, Armenia - they are 12 hours ahead of us -- and hundreds of thousands of people, despite the rain, are proceeding in a solemn procession to the Eternal Flame, the Monument of the Armenian Genocide, putting flowers there and paying their respects. And this year especially, they're paying tribute to U.S. Ambassador John Evans, who's being recalled because he said a word that hes not supposed to say, according to the State Department -- the Armenian Genocide. So they're recalling him. So there's a yellow ribbon campaign - I'm wearing one myself -- as a tribute to his good sense of recognizing the truth and the facts of history.

Anchor 1: That's right, you mentioned that the U.S. Ambassador John Evans did in fact call it a genocide. He has received some flack obviously from the State Department. President Bush calls it a tragedy, does NOT call it a genocide. What would it mean if he actually called it, recognized it, as a genocide, and what peacemaking or peacekeeping effects would it actually have between Turkey and the U.S.?

Sassounian: Of course, President Bush, when he was a candidate, he did call it a genocide. But when he won and became President, he started calling it tragedy and massacre. He even said 1.5 million Armenians were killed. So he used all the words to describe what happened factually, except the word [genocide]. It would not have a major legal effect -- just like President Reagan issued a Presidential Proclamation in 1981 saying genocide -- but it has more a moral and psychological effect in acknowledging the fact, that it's something that the victims and their descendants would feel much better if people did not lie about what took place. As they say, truth is the last victim of genocide.

Anchor 2: Now, in Turkey, how are they recognizing what's going on tomorrow?

Sassounian: Well, there's a leftover, a small Armenian community in Turkey, and they're under all sorts of repressive situations - circumstances -- so they do not dare to talk about it. They do not commemorate it, they do not have any special ceremonies, except maybe they go to church and say their prayers. But more and more, recently, Turkish scholars themselves are coming out and writing books and articles, saying it is genocide. So there's a slight movement under pressure from the European Union.

Anchor 2: Now tomorrow, there are many things going on around town [L.A.], right?

Sassounian: Right. At 10 a.m., there's a huge march in Hollywood, Little Armenia. Between 50,000 and 80,000 Armenians will gather. I'm the keynote speaker there. And in the afternoon there's a protest in front of the Turkish Consulate, on Wilshire.

Anchor 2: Thank you so much, best wishes for tomorrow.

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