New Wrinkle to Turkish Propaganda

Mesrob, Toronto, 14 December 2010
Originally sent by reader Mesrob to as a comment to our Turkbaijan Propaganda in Bloom editorial, we’ve decided to run this timely note as self-standing article. It’s informative and thought provoking. It calls for action.
To underline the issues raised by “Turkbaijan Propaganda in Bloom,” I would like to point out another Turkish government-sponsored ploy intended to put Diaspora Armenians on the defensive. I am referring to the “by invitation-only” Jan. 12 “Dialogue & Friendship” dinner, presented by the Canadian Intercultural Dialogue Center–a member of Intercultural Dialogue Institute. The theme of the “dialogue” is ‘Raising the Generation of Peace in the Toronto School of Diversity.’ The gathering will take place at the toney Royal York Hotel’s exclusive Imperial Room.

It all sounds so innocent. What’s more commendable than teaching diversity in the schools of the world’s “most multicultural” city? But there’s snake in the garden. The event is sponsored by the Anatolian Heritage Federation, SAVGI Turkish Canadian Academics Association, and the Turkish Canadian Chamber of Commerce.The not-so-secret agenda of the Turkish sponsors is to combat the recent success of Toronto educational specialists, to include Genocide of Armenians educational materials in the history curriculum of Grade XI students of a public school district in Toronto. The Turkish lobby fought tooth and nail to prevent any mention of the Genocide of Armenians, but failed to sway the Toronto educational leaders. Now the Turkish government and its local lobbyists want to see the material removed from the curriculum, as they fear other school boards might adopt the program.

Thus the keynote speakers and the hosting committee have been carefully selected to support the campaign to undermine the inclusion of Genocide of Armenians in Toronto public school curiculums. The keynote speakers are Dr. Sheldon Levy president of Ryerson University, and Dr. Brian Desbiens, chair of Education Quality & Accountability Office. The latter is a mandarin. The hosting committee includes two MPs, including Yasmin Ratansi, whose constituency includes a large number of Armenians and Rob Oliphant, who was in Armenia recently. Other hosting committee members included provincial member of parliament Tony Ruprecht (a long-time supporter of Turkish causes), educational specialists and Rev. Damian MacPherson, director, Ecumenical and Interfaith Att. Archdiocese of Toronto.Finally, among the hosting committee are the chief and deputy chief of Toronto Police. This is also a stroke of genius in light of Toronto Turkish community propaganda that the teaching of controversial subjects such as the “genocide” of Armenians encourages racism, discrimination, and violence among students.

I have two questions for Armenian activists in Toronto. How was a member of parliament, who has numerous Armenian voters in her constituency, saw it fit to be part of a Turkish propaganda front? Have our activists established contacts with a politician who, to a certain degree, depends on Armenian votes. How was she wooed by our antagonists to participate in this sham dialogue? And what about MPP Oliphant, who having been in Armenia, surely knows the game the Turkish lobby is playing in Toronto. Will our organizations approach Ms. Ratansi and Mr. Oliphant and let them know about what game is afoot?

An event like the above requires a great deal of money, effort, organization. Would anyone be surprised to learn that the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa is funding and organizing the event behind front men and front organizations?

The Toronto sham conference is part of a concerted Turkish government effort to diffuse the bad PR Ankara would suffer on the 100 Anniversary of the Genocide of Armenians. Expect to see similar campaigns elsewhere around the globe. But more important, organize to combat the Turkish strategy.

  1. Mesrob’s Comments/Artical

    Mesrob’s comment/article is very well written, very informative, analytical, farsighted, timely and raises important issues and prepares the Armenian communities world wide of what likely we will be experiencing in our communities as we head to 2015 when we will commemorate the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.

    As Merob rightly points, this conference and such conferences are subtle and yet are extremely potent in their subtlety for which we are to prepare ourselves.

    Mesrob indicates that this conference is meant to place us in a defensive position. We should not be concerned to be placed in a defensive position for we are claiming what should be rightfully claimed, the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and reparation. However, we all know that even the right cause should be pursued in the right manner; for the manner to pursue a cause is as important as the cause itself, specially in this day and age of headline news.

    That’s where the crux of the matter lies in my view, how to respond. Let us admit that we in Diaspora will be placed under more pressure. We cannot expect Armenia to assist us financially. For one we should be proactive instead of defensive. The Armenian community may well welcome the Azeri and Turkish Diaspora in Toronto to organize a forum but fault the organizers for making it a closed door by invitation only forum and for not having invited representatives from the Armenian community who advocated inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the curriculum to foster an open and tolerant society by teaching historical realities.

    After all it is ignorance or innuendoes that causes racism, discrimination and violence in a society, not education. A letter writing campaign should be initiated to the denizens of the city, especially those at official capacity, for accepting to be part of a closed forum to a topic that has direct implication for the multicultural society Toronto is and at a time when transparency is the driving social force.

    It would be educational for all of us to hear the views and suggestion of Keghart readers and come to census as to how to best prepare ourselves and respond the planned Toronto conference and to these unfolding realities as we head towards the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. 2015 is not too far off.

    1. Vahe’s suggestions make sense

      Vahe’s suggestions make sense and hoepfully people will heed to his proposals:

      1. Write to organizers asking them why they have left the Armenian organizations or their representatives out of this forum.

      2. Write to the participants in the forum and let them know what they may be supporting and are probably being used by the organizers.

      May I add, that the Armenian organizations in Toronto should take an active role in exposing the malicious intent of this forum. A signature drive too signed by Armenians would probably be an important tool.

      Non-Armenian intellectuals, who are familiar with the case of the Genocide of the Armenians, should be alerted on time and lend their support as they did when introducing the subject into the curriculum was debated. Their invaluable contribution made a difference.

      Thank you Mesrob for bringing to the public’s attention this highly important matter.

  2. Wake-up Call for Canadian-Armenian Activists

    I would like to second the ideas Mesrob expressed re the activities of the Turkbaijan lobby in Canada.

    Tony Ruprecht, MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament) from Toronto, has a long history of close association with the Turkish Embassy in Canada and Turkish denialist policies.

    Ruprecht has been on all-expense paid trips to Turkey and to Azerbaijan. I am told that at Queen’s Park (Ontario’s Legislature) his semi-humorous title is "unofficial Consul of Turkey." He has introduced the Turkish consul during parliamentary sessions and organized receptions for Turkish diplomats to meet various MPPs. This past year he arranged a meeting between the Turkish consul and Frank Klees, a Conservative MPP who is spearheading a motion to declare April 24 a memorial day in Ontario. We can imagine what the Turkish diplomat said to Mr. Klees to dissuade him from pursuing his noble enterprise. Mr. Ruprecht also distributes genocide-denying material produced by the Turkish Embassy.

    As for MP Yasmeen Ratansi, she was the president of the Canadian-Azerbaijan Friendship Association. She has organized trips for MPs to Azerbaijan and, in partnership with the Azeri Embassy, mounts lectures in Ottawa for politicians and for the public to disseminate Baku propaganda.

    In 2008 Stephan Dion, then-head of the federal Liberal Party, sent a proclamation to be read during April 24 commemoration at the Toronto Armenian Centre. The gathering was organized by the three Armenian political parties. Ratansi intercepted the proclamation and bowdlerized Dion’s "genocide" to "tragedy."

    The above are facts are known to Toronto Armenians who follow our struggle against Turkbaijan propaganda campaigns. But what hidden facts of the Turkbaijan activities don’t we know? For example, we know that millionaire arch-conservative Fathi Gulen of Pennsylvania funds some 30 foundations and organizations in Canada to promote his fundamentalist version of Islam and to elevate the stature of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. But that’s the limit of our knowledge about the infusion of Turkish money to promote the cause of Turkey in Canada.

    I wonder whether Armenian activists and lobbyists are on top of these developments. If not, why not? And if they are aware, why are they seemingly asleep at the wheel, while our antagonists make headway in the public and political arena?

    Isn’t it time for our activists to give to an account of their activities? I know this is a permanent challenge because our activists and lobbyists are volunteers. We dare not be demanding because they just might walk away. However, what’s at stake is of supreme importance to Armenians. We have the right to expect more from those who "carry our flag."

    1. ANC of Canada to Respond
      Armenian National Committee of Canada may be best equipped to organize a community-wide response. 

    2. This is a failure of the

      This is a failure of the Armenian community in Canada.

      Continue having annual bazaars, church fundraisers, kef nights; continue paying huge heating bills for the many unnecessary churches, community centres, clubs, etc. and leave the Armenian Cause to unpaid, well-intended but amateur individuals.

      We have so many brilliant lawyers, political scientists, historians, etc. etc. but are they working for a professional and powerful lobby for the Armenian Cause? I think not.  Why should anybody take the Genocide of Armenians seriously if  WE don’t?  We have only ourselves to blame. Meanwhile, the genocide continues… communities dissapear and all is left is a plate of pilaf and some lahmajoon.

  3. New Gulen Propaganda

    I would like to add a brief addendum to my email about the so-called "Dialogue and Friendship Dinner" in Toronto, orchestrated by the murky Canadian Institute of Intercultural Dialogue and its shadowy Canadian Intercultural Dialogue Centre.

    For a quick scan of a pathetically transparent propaganda gimmick, Google "Canadian Institute of Intercultural Dialogue." In a jiffy you will discover that the whole shebang is a Fethullah Gulen fabrication. And guess what? It features "intercultural trips." There are 195 states in the world. You have one guess as to the destination country of these intercultural trips. One hint: It’s a country which denies that it killed 1.5 million Armenians and deported 500,000 others.

    I bet that if you swap "Canadian" with "American", "British", "German", "Italian"… on Google, you will come across other Gulen-financed Turkish nationalist and Turkish-style Islamic fundamentalist propaganda websites around the world.

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