Friday, April 24, 2015

100th Anniversary of Armenian Massacres or Genocide?

Armenian Prisoners, Kharper, Armenia, Ottoman Empire
April, 1915 (Wikimedia)

Today marks the day that hundred years ago, over 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire. According to most historians this was a genocide, i.e. the systematic destruction of all or a significant part of a racial, ethnic, religious or national group - according to Wikipedia, which lists as examples of genocides, the Holocaust, the Rwandan and Bosnian Genocides, and the Armenian Genocide. Turkey, however, does not want to call this tragic episode a genocide. What do eyewitnesses say? The Washington Post's article "Is this genocide? What four Americans saw happening to Armenians 100 years ago" presents quotes from a recent book Great Catastrophe: Armenians and Turks in the Shadow of Genocide by Thomas de Waal, an expert on the South Caucasus region. One quote is from then U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau in a cable sent to Secretary of State Robert Lansing on July 10, 1915:

"Persecution of Armenians assuming unprecedented proportions. Reports from widely scattered districts indicate systematic attempts to uproot peaceful Armenian populations and through arbitrary arrests, terrible tortures, wholesale expulsions and deportations from one end of the Empire to the other accompanied by frequent instances of rape, pillage, and murder, turning into massacre, to bring destruction and destitution on them. These measures are not in response to popular or fanatical demand but are purely arbitrary and directed from Constantinople in the name of military necessity, often in districts where no military operations are likely to take place."

Morgenthau went on, explaining the shocking reasons behind the violence:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Danny Schechter (1942-2015), Journalist, Filmmaker, Author and Activist

It's with deep sadness that I have to announce that Danny Schechter, journalist, filmmaker, television producer, author and friend died on March 19, 2015 after a battle with cancer.  Danny Schechter was a unique personality, in person and professionally. His media background started in the 1970s on the radio as "The News Dissector" at WBCN-FM in Boston, where he informed his listeners about the news infused with his typical sense of humor. In 1980, he joined CNN, the cable news network that just had been founded by Ted Turner, and later on he was a producer with the ABC News magazine 20/20, where he won two Emmy Awards. Independent-minded as he was, in 1988 he co-founded the production company Global Vision together with Rory O'Connor, where they produced many documentaries, including "South Africa Now", an award winning public television series.

Danny's passion always was on the crossroads of media and human rights: he reported on how the mass media informed or rather misinformed on many topics. He had maintained that the media were critical to a well-run democracy, but over the years realized that the media were no longer a solution to the problems in the world, but part of the problem. Danny also covered some of the major issues of our times: from the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and the civil war in Bosnia, to civil rights in the U.S., the debt crisis in this century with his film "In Debt We Trust: America before the Bubble Burst" and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Danny Schechter was not only a radio host and filmmaker, but also an active blogger and author of 17 books. Among his books, he released the following