CANBERRA: 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.”
The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU), which has a pending “Freedom of Information” request since the article appeared in The Australian requesting specific correspondence regarding SBS’s editorial policy on the Armenian Genocide, slammed Ebeid’s responses to Ludlam during the hearing.
“Since when is a broadcaster – public or not – a mouthpiece for the Australian government?” said ANC-AU Managing Director, Vache Kahramanian. “For example, the New York Times has a clear editorial policy against euphemisms when referring to the Armenian Genocide, regardless what the United States government position is on the matter. There are countless such examples from around the world.”
“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,” Kahramanian added.
“Armenian-Australians reject Mr. Ebeid’s and SBS’s editorial policy as offensive and inaccurate in its responses to analogies with the Holocaust. In his position, Mr. Ebeid should know that the term genocide was coined in the United Nations using the Armenian Genocide as its prime example. He should know that the International Association of Genocide Scholars recognises the Armenian Genocide and condemns its denial. He should know that ‘community sensitivities’ from mouth-pieces of a country that jails scholars and journalists who mention ‘Armenian Genocide’ is based on the type censorship SBS is offering with its ill-fated decision.”
ANC-AU also thanked Ludlam, who continued on his path for truth and justice for the Armenian Genocide.
On April 24, his statement on behalf of the Australian Greens called on the Australian government to recognise the Armenian Genocide.
It read: “ANZAC prisoners of war bore witness to some these vicious acts, we owe it to them to challenge any attempts to distort or outright deny the truth of the Armenian Genocide.”
Kahramanian said: “Our community thanks Senator Ludlam for siding with truth and bringing to light something we have been seeking via Freedom of Information channels. e will work with the Senator and our other friends in the Federal Parliament to correct this wrong at SBS to correct this wrong at SBS.”