AAA: National Geographic Reporting Includes Term: Armenian Genocide

Armenian Assembly of America
122 C Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-638-4904
Email: [email protected]

June 23, 2004
CONTACT: Christine Kojoian
E-mail: [email protected]

Turkish Protests Fail to Overturn Editorial Policy

Washington, DC – The Armenian Assembly commended National Geographic
magazine for continuing to characterize as “genocide,” the events of 1915 in
its July issue, thereby rejecting Turkish accusations of bias following a
22-page report in its March issue entitled, “Armenia Reborn.”

In an introductory note to its “Forum” section, the editors said the March
article and photos, “inspired more than 1,600 letters – the most mail
elicited by any one story in the past five years,” and published four
responses including a joint letter from Armenian Assembly Board of Trustees
Chairman Hirair Hovnanian and Board of Directors Chairman Anthony Barsamian.
The editors also reported that the magazine received “hundreds” of positive
letters from the Armenian community.

The Assembly letter said in part:

“[Armenian Reborn] captured the essence of the Armenian identity
historically and the values that animate our people today. As for the
cataclysmic event in our past – the Armenian genocide under cover of World
War I – National Geographic has not only told the truth, but is also in good

Armenian Assembly Executive Director Ross Vartian, along with Public Affairs
Director David Zenian and ANI Director Dr. Rouben Adalian, also expressed
appreciation and praise for the magazine report during a face-to-face
meeting with Washington editors in March.

The magazine’s last major report on Armenia was published in 1978.

In addition to the subject of the genocide, “Armenia Reborn,” written by
Frank Viviano and photographed by Alexandra Avakian, looks at the 3,000 year
history of Armenians and leads up to current events including independence,
the 1988 earthquake and the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

But it was the magazine’s coverage of the Armenian Genocide and by
extension, Turkey-Armenia relations, which sparked a Turkish outcry. Both
the Turkish government and Turkish lobby in the United States voiced their
criticism, mounting a worldwide letter-writing campaign challenging
accuracies in the story. The publishers of the magazine’s Turkish language
edition excluded “Armenia Reborn” from their March issue.

The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.


Editor’s Note: Below is the published text of the Armenian Assembly letter
to National Geographic editors.

March 12, 2004

William L. Allen
Editor in Chief
National Geographic
1145 17th Street
Washington, DC 20036.

Dear Sir:

The article captured the essence of the Armenian identity historically and
the values that animate our people today. As for the cataclysmic event in
our past – the Armenian Genocide under cover of World War I – NATIONAL
GEOGRAPHIC has not only told the truth, but is also in good company. One
hundred and twenty-six Holocaust and Genocide scholars signed a petition on
March 7, 2000, calling the Armenian genocide “an incontestable historical
fact.” As recently as February 2003, the International Center for
Transitional Justice concluded that what happened to the Armenians includes
“all the elements of the crime of genocide … and legal scholars as well
as historians, politicians, journalists and other people would be justified
in continuing to so describe them.” The “controversy” today lies squarely
with the Turkish government as it continues to attempt to coerce the world
to be complicit in its denial. Turkey’s aspiration to be fully accepted as a
full member of European society will not be realized without facing its own
history – just as coming to terms with the destruction of Native Americans
and the stain of slavery made America what it is today: more humane and


Hirair Hovnanian
Chairman, Board of Trustees

Anthony Barsamian
Chairman, Board of Directors
Armenian Assembly of America