Australian human rights experts call on SBS to change position on Armenian Genocide


SYDNEY: 43 experts on the Holocaust, genocide and human rights have signed a statement, organised by the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide (AIHGS) Studies, reaffirming the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide and calling on Australian multicultural broadcaster, SBS (Special Broadcasting Corporation) to candidly report on it.

The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) welcomed the statement by the AIHGS, which adds to pressure being applied on SBS since it emerged that their editorial policy demands the use of euphemisms instead of “genocide” when referring to the Ottoman Empires 1915 massacres of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians.

“We welcome this statement by such a distinguished group of Australian experts, and it will no doubt add to the massive condemnation of SBS’s unjust, inaccurate and unacceptable policy supporting genocide denial,” said ANC-AU Managing Director, Vache Kahramanian.

Last month, the International Association of Genocide Scholars – the global historical authority on genocides – released a statement slamming SBS’s position as one that supports genocide denialism (click here for this story).

In May, Head of Special Broadcasting Corporation (SBS), Michael Ebeid was grilled on the broadcaster’s unacceptable editorial position on the Armenian Genocide during an Australian Parliament Senate Estimates hearing by Greens Senator, Scott Ludlam.

Ludlam, who is the Foreign Affairs spokesperson for the Australian Greens, asked Ebeid to shed light on a May 15th article in The Australian, which claimed: “…SBS News and Current Affairs has a specific policy on referring to the Armenian genocide that prohibits its reporters from naming it as such. Instead reporters are instructed to refer to the event not as a genocide but as a ‘mass killing of Armenians considered by many to have been a genocide, which Turkey denies’.”

Ebeid responded: “We at SBS refer to it as ‘mass killing of Armenians considered by many to have been a genocide’ and I think that way we make sure that our viewers understand that this is a matter of contention that historians the world over dispute…”

Ludlam interrupted, asking: “Is it? Iran and Syria deny the Holocaust, but you don’t [have a similar position on that].”

To this, Ebeid said: “No, I don’t think there is a lot of debate on that one.”

Ludlam continued: “There is unfortunately. And the Nanking Massacre is denied by Japan, but we don’t call it the so-called Nanking Massacre, and yet we are quite heavily guarded, SBS appears to be guarded in the way it refers to the Armenian Genocide, which is really upsetting for Armenians.”

Under the barrage, Ebeid responded as follows: “I think, you know, as long as the Australian government doesn’t call it a genocide, I think it is very difficult for us to do that. We would probably change our protocol if the Australian government had a different perspective on it.”

At the time, Kahramanian said: “Since when is a broadcaster – public or not – a mouthpiece for the Australian government? If the media is to cease its role as the Fourth Estate, and simply regurgitate government positions – including wrong ones such as this – our very democracy is threatened.”

The full statement from the 43 Australian experts can be viewed below: