While Armenians are disturbed by the required screening of the documentary, called “Sarı Gelin: Ermeni Sorununun İç Yüzü” (Yellow Bride: The True Face of the Armenian Question), at primary schools, it has been revealed that the General Staff was not involved in making the documentary as had been previously claimed. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has said the documentary was sent to schools as an educational resource for teachers, not students. Armenians, concerned the documentary would confuse younger students, have sent a letter addressed to Prime Minister Erdoğan asking him to suspend the screening of the controversial documentary.
Karun Kovan, vice president of the Armenian group Karagözyan Vakıf, said Armenians believe the documentary should not be shown to children, or even adults, of any nation, let alone to students in Armenian schools in Turkey. “We want the screening to be called off because this will promote violence and discrimination and breed hatred among the students,” he added. The History Foundation of Turkey has also described the documentary as a propaganda film and said it was inappropriate for students because it would promote enmity.
In a memo sent to schools, the Ministry of Education asked that schools submit a report by Feb. 27 on the effect that the documentary had on students. The memo said the documentary had been prepared by the General Staff.
However, İsmail Umaç, who produced the documentary, said there was no link between the documentary and the General Staff, adding: “This documentary was prepared by our company. I distribute the documentary to anyone who pays for it. The documentary is not a biased production that promotes the Turkish view of the events. It is objective. There were 14 historians from different countries involved, and archives from nine countries were examined. If the documentary was biased, the [Armenian] diaspora would have shown a strong reaction when it was distributed in the European version of Time magazine and in Russia.”
Plans for sending the documentary to primary schools were initially discussed two years ago. A coordination committee set up to dispel baseless genocide claims sent the documentary to the Ministry of Education on March 15, 2007. On Dec. 17, 2007, 56,388 DVD copies of the documentary were delivered to the Board of Education and Discipline and then sent out to primary schools in the summer of 2008. In a statement issued on the recent controversy, the Ministry of Education said the documentary was sent to primary schools as an educational resource to be used by teachers, not to be shown to students, and said the distribution of the remaining half of the copies has been discontinued.
Meanwhile, Serdar Kaya, the parent of an 11-year-old girl, filed a criminal complaint yesterday with the Üsküdar Prosecutor’s Office on the grounds that the documentary negatively influenced his daughter’s psychology.
The “Yellow Bride” is the name of an Armenian folk song that is also popular in Turkey.
Armenia claims that the mass deportation of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 amounted to genocide, while Turkey strongly denies the claim.