Friday, December 05, 2008

Amanpour Screams Bloody Murder... for some.

I guess not so bloody for others? CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour is know for her hard-hitting, ruthless style of journalism. She has covered some of the toughest stories CNN dares to tackle. It only makes sense that she take on the biggest human crisis known to man: Genocide. Tomorrow, CNN will broadcast her latest, Scream Bloody Murder of which Asbarez Daily Newspaper obtained a press screener and reports that In the almost 90-minute press screener, the Armenian Genocide was mentioned for about 45 seconds as an anecdotal reference to Lemkin's struggle for human justice. Using photographs now familiar to all Armenians and possibly obtained from Armin T. Wegner Collection, Amanpour illustrates the horror of the Armenian Genocide but does not delve into it in as in-depth and compelling manner as she does the other instances of Genocide. She also spoke directly with The Armenian Reporter, saying "... The fact that Turkey still denies it officially is a problem. We didn't find it so in our work, but it is an issue I know, especially for Armenia. We actually didn't focus entirely on the Armenian Genocide. The way we focused on it was to use it as this amazing opportunity to show where the word came from and what it actually infers; the Armenian Genocide infers to the words of Raphael Lemkin and that was incredibly important for us to highlight that. We focused a lot on the events that I've covered during my lifetime." I'm preparing to watch the program for myself, but given this much prior information, I have to ask. If you are going to cover the epidemic of genocide, starting with the campaign to criminalize genocide, continue to show the struggle so many have endured to (as you titled your program) "SCREAM BLOODY MURDER" while the world turned a deaf ear only to allow genocide to continue around the world, shouldn't you be talking about the biggest cover up of genocide, the very one which inspired Lemkin to coin the word, the very one which also inspired Adolf Hitler to follow through with the Holocaust? Afterall, it's this denial that scares CNN from ever using the word "Genocide" in their reporting on related matters. Thus, I turned my question on CNN. They are allowing the public to post questions in their ireport page prior to the program, of which apparently she will respond to during the show. Here's what I had to say:
Hi, My name is Arsineh Khachikian. I was born and raised in Washington, DC and I currently live in Armenia, the homeland of my ancestors. My grandfather was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, as are the grandparents of most Armenians across the globe. In fact, few of my friends have a family tree that extends beyond 3 generations. My question is this. What is the extent of research done by media outlets, including CNN, on the facts of genocide when covering a related story. In the case of the Armenian Genocide (as we saw in the coverage of the assassination of Turkish-Armenian Journalist Hrant Dink, as well as last year's controversial resolution passed in the House Foreign Affairs committee recognizing the Armenian Genocide), we rarely hear the genocide presented as a historical fact, rather as the "alleged" genocide, or "what Armenians say was genocide." How is that possible when a majority of historians worldwide site the Armenian genocide as a fact, providing amply evidence to support their argument. Isn't it true that by not presenting these facts, you are opening a forum for denial, which is the precedent that encourages other nations to follow the example, as Hitler followed Turkey's example when he said, "Afterall, who remembers the annihilation of the Armenians." Later the Hutus in Rwanda, and now Sudan continue to follow the same example. My second question is this. What do you believe to be the media's role in post-genocide story coverage, as pertaining to the denial campaigns by the perpetrator, which is widely considered to be the continuation of genocide committed. Thank you for very important program on this global epidemic.
You can find more interesting posted questions here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Best of All Worlds

In response to my blog on Change in Armenia (made on my facebook page), two of my friends raised concerns for change in a direction that is misguided, and another example of Western influence that is not necessarily positive progress. I ended up writing a very long response that I though was worth a blog in itself. So here it is... my response. Arsineh Khachikian wrote at 12:00am Anoush and Daniel, I have to say I agree and disagree on some level, but I'm glad you guys raised the issue. I think at times, we (including me) start to talk about Western influence as a quickly spreading disease that is threatening Armenia's society. I agree that Armenia can not be a copy of Western democracies, but this should not be a complete rejection of practices that take place in the West. When I said things were better this time around, I specified kindness and willingness to follow up and assist. This is a sign of professionalism that fuels efficiency. The case of Armenia is a little different because the system that was in place before no longer exists and cannot exist anymore. The Soviet days are over and turning back to them is no smarter than following in the steps of democracy. I'm not fond of consumerism, but I do believe in a form of democracy. There are many cases where diasporans have come from the US and implemented practices they learned in the US to create companies and NGOs that work very well in Armenia and employ hundreds of people, and primarily serve Armenia and Armenians, rather than globalization. In fact, our closed borders may be a blessing for that reason. I agree that quality of life cannot be found in consumerism. Quality of life is in compassion, love, respect. These are three characteristics I feel have been squashed in Armenia over the last 20 years. Every day, I meet more and more people holding doors open for each other, saying hello with a smile, and laughing with each other, and not just people of their same background. I believe that this is a result of people having work, managing their lives, and restoring their dignity. But there is a fine line between managing one's life and being squeezed in a capitalistic society that spins out of control... Here's my vision. We need to take the best of each society and apply it to Armenia. If there is one good description of Armenians in this world, it is that we are resourceful, often with the narrowest means. We have experts in all fields all around the world, and we are accomplishing great strides in our homeland against all odds. The bottom line is this. The world is going in a direction that affects us whether we like it or not. The world is interconnected, and it's better for Armenia to build a strong economy that can work with the West, but also stand on its own. It's a delicate game we are playing here, but this is a vision I believe Armenians can achieve. Thank you for your feedback guys, would love more discussion on this.