Canadian Armenian Journalist Jirair Tutunjian’s complaint to BBC

August 14, 2020
Complaints Dept.
London, UK
Dear Sir/Madam,
I would like to complain about Mr. Sackur’s interview with Mr. Pashinyan of Armenia.
Mr. Sackur has a reputation to maintain as a tough interviewer but his behavior was hammy from A to Z.  A performer rather than a prober. He was “tough” armed with hostility towards Armenia and the questions his producer/writers had drafted for him. He was rude while visibly preening about his interview method. I am certain he would have handled Mr. Netanyahu with kid gloves in fear of losing his job. But with Armenia–small, impoverished, and blockaded country–it’s easy to have a field day–especially since the leader of Armenia hasn’t had the benefit of English language instruction–which Mr. Sackur has enjoyed–at one of your public schools.
Even before the beginning of the interview, Mr. Sackur revealed his anti-Armenian/anti-Pashinyan bias when he “headlined” the interview with the question: “Is Armenia preoccupied with fighting old battles?” A loaded question which no professional journalist should pose without evidence or before an interview. What’s the point of the interview when you already have the answer?
The rhetorical question, which was intended to tell viewers that “Armenia is the bad guy”, is pregnant with the following insinuations:
A) Armenia is reactionary
B) Armenians and their government are backward
C) Armenians are not only belligerent but also must have started the recent fighting with Azerbaijan
D) Armenians are vengeful
E) Armenians are troublemakers
F) Armenians are inflexible
G) Armenians are revanchists
H) If there’s a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan/Turkey, we should stay neutral because Armenia isn’t entitled to our help
When Mr. Pashinyan tried to explain the cause of the Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabagh conflict, Mr. Sackur cut him off.  He didn’t want to give Mr. Pashinyan the opportunity to explain the cause of the conflict.
Artsakh was part of Armenia as early as 6th century B.C., according to ancient Greek historians. Its name was Artsakh then. Mr. Sackur tried to make fun that Armenian nationalists had changed the name of Nagorno-Karabagh [by the way, a colonialist name] into Artsakh not realizing that Armenians had merely restored the original name. Artsakh was part of Armenia when the Azeris (they are Turks) and Turks didn’t even exist. Azerbaijan was fabricated by Russia in 1918. Yet this fabrication says Armenia is part of Azerbaijan and should be called Western Azerbaijan.
I am not surprised by Mr. Sackur’s superficial knowledge. Many so-called “star” journalists are performers first and reporters second. Mr. Sackur is typical: he is as deep as tissue paper and apparently has the memory of a guppy.
Finally, Artsakh (pop. 90 percent) Armenian, was handed to Azerbaijan by Lenin/Stalin to earn the favors of Turkey because the USSR wanted to win Ataturk’s Turkey to its side. They also gave another Armenian region (Nakhichevan) to the Azeris. During 70 years of Azeri rule, Azerbaijan tried to change the demographics of Artsakh by settling Azeris there. When the Soviet Union was cracking up, the Armenians of Artsakh voted to separate from the oppressive, corrupt, and alien Azerbaijan. Baku declared war and launched pogroms of Armenians who lived in Azerbaijan. That’s when Armenia came to the rescue of Artsakh Armenians. By the way, when the USSR collapsed, the Armenian region of Nakhichevan had 17 Armenians left. In the previous decades, Armenians had moved to Armenia as a result of Azeri persecution.
Jirair Tutunjian
[Address & Phone Number]
P.S. For Mr. Sakur’s benefit, “interview” means the exchange of views. He had his views firmly on his note pad. He was not interested in the views of Mr. Pashinyan or whether his viewers would have been interested in what Mr. Pashinyan would say.
  1. The “interviewer” was obviously a brainwashed, impolite individual, who should be summarily fired, unless of course his superiors share his warped views of history and reality. Shame!

    1. Anti-Armenianism is deep rooted within British circles. Didn’t British PM D’Israeli said “our ships can not climb Armenian mountains” ?

  2. Bravo, right to the point. England is still on the side of genocidal Turks; they continue not to recognize the Genocide. It’s obvious they continue to be pro Turks against Armenians. Shame.

  3. Mr Sackur ,you interrupted Mr. Pashinian when he mentioned

    ” Artsakh has a 2000 year existence in that region “,
    and YOU shamelessly said
    ” we can’t go back few thousand years through your history ”
    Hypocrite :,
    the reason he gave, why Britain should give the Jews the land of Palestine, by reminding the British cabinet, the presence of Jews 2000 years ago in the land of the Palestine ,

    1. Thank you for this, agree with every word. He also crossed the line blaming Armenia for “toxic” relations with Turkey, it was disgusting.

      1. What shocked me the most was when he asked Pashinyan to say sorry to Azeris. This interview was a best case of victim blaming.
        The only way to remedy this shameful interview would be to interview Aliyev and pose much harder questions!

  4. Շատ դիպուկ են ձեր խօսքերը, բայց ինչպէս կըսէն ըսողին լսող է պետք։

  5. The Brits never in the last 200 years cared for or helped Armenia or Armenians even during the Genocide. Always remember what the British replied to Armenians, “our ships can’t climb mount Ararat”, but the French ships helped to evacuate all the Armenians of Musa Dagh to safety.

  6. Sackur played judge, jury and executioner merely posing as a journalist. Why bother showing up for an interview if you are not going to be given a chance to talk? At least be prepared to be sarcastic in the face of such rude and obnoxious behavior. Those who agree to appear on HardTalk and come out smelling like roses are only those favored by the New World Order.

  7. Thank you Mr. Tutunjian, well explained.
    One issue I would like to add that Mr. Sackur was not interviewing MP Pashinyan, but he was trying only to interrogate (Investigate) based on his pre-prepared written questions.

  8. I fully endorse the contents of the complaint written by the Canadian Armenian Journalist, Mr. Jirair Toutounjian. In my view, Mr. Sackur’s tone toward Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, was harsh and condescending, his questions demonstrated a high degree of bias and insufficient knowledge of history and the geopolitics of the area. Such an interview could be supported only by the adversaries of Armenia’s and Artsakh’s people, but certainly not by the global Free World.

  9. I think this so called interview was designed to push visible pressure on Mr. Pashinian as if the hidden pressures from UK and US for Amulsar was not enough to force Mr. Pashinian’s green light for Amulsar.

    1. Fully agree with Mr Tutunjian. Mr Sackur appeared to be – indeed was – fully predisposed to downgrade the Prime Minister, and Armenia, from the start of the interview.
      While mentioning reports from international bodies regarding negative outlooks about Armenia, he categorically refused to listen to positive reports from equally important other international bodies that Mr Pashinian tried to interject.
      One wonders what instructions or benefits Mr Sackur had for his deplorable, shameful, disrespectful attitude towards the Prime Minister.

  10. The brits have a habit of using convenience as an argument in dissecting the truth. The Brits have and had created massive problems in practically every century from the year DOT. This interviewer had an agenda and that agenda was to totally fail to understand the historical facts in that area. In short he had no clue. But all the same SHAME ON THE BBC FOR ALLOWING THIS INTERVIEW TO BE CONDUCTED THE WAY IT WAS. AN ABSOLUTE DISGRACE. The interviewer also critised Pashinyan for not wearing a mask. Did he forget about the british PM who also wore no masks or has that escaped his fractured mind. If you are ready to be critical of somebody make sure you have full knowledge of your own country’s faults. Get your facts and avoid being BIASED.

  11. The BBC is full of such ‘reporters’ and ‘journalists’ who think that attacking and judging before even the questions are asked makes them good journalists. The more I view such interviews, the more I see them to be a monologue by the interviewer whilst giving no chance to the interviewee to answer. Cutting off mid-interview is a quality I abhor and I see this quite a lot on British Television. I could add a few more names to such so-called journalists at the BBC but that’s not a story to waste our time on. May be this interview might have been better conducted by Channel 4’s John Snow…. I may be wrong.
    Thank you Jirair Tutunjian for your letter of complaint to the bigoted BBC who still gloat in their past…
    We should never accept any interview proposal from the BBC.

  12. I completely agree with Mr. Tutunjian. This was not an interview. Mr. Sackur was very condescendng and rude, forced his views without any interest whatsoever to listen to Mr. Pashinian, and completely disregarded what Mr. Pashinian had to say. It was painful to watch, it was a complete anti-Armenian propaganda by Mr. Sakhur. Shame on you for this kind of “journalism”!.

  13. Karabag means Cold Rock in Armenian and was “granted” to azerbahian if they would join Soviet Union. Joining would mean offer the crude oil to USSR only. Optional idea was joining Iran with plenty of crude. Azeris considered USSR as would have been exclusive vendors of crude. Once urss split any previóus union or grants falled. Free Karabagh. To help azeris UK is buying crude from azeris through a pipeline going to black sea and avoiding Armenia. So even having a solution for the crude output and being adjourned by UK NOT TO SPILL CRUDE OIL IN THE SEA. Caspian sea is ” closed sea” pollution piles up no way to clean it. There you have the question why they having found crude demand solved still are demand a land that has been Armenian since thousands of years ago.? Moreover they have never developed such Cold Rock. Bad intentions. Armenians have the support and means to stop and act upon in case of intentions of another genocide or else. Take care.

  14. Thank you Mr. Tutunjian. Since I do not expect a comment from this rude journalist , I would like to know if there was a reaction or reply from BBC

  15. Very well written Mr Tutunjian. Thank you for highlighting the unprofessinal and biased way this interview was conducted in. That is definitely not what proper journalism should be about!

  16. Thank you Mr. Tutunjian for so eloquently formulating your complaint.
    This letter should be widely shared, and sent to the BBC many times, by other readers and viewers, regardless of the fact that the editorial team and producers may be of opinion Mr. Sackur was expressing. A journalist has to first listen and then respond. This one was responding first and not listening at all. Shoot first and don’t even ask questions!
    In the future, our leaders should have the courage to say,
    “Mr. Sackur, thank you for inviting me to an interview. I am honored. However, you seem to already have the answers to all your questions. And for that understandable reason, you have not given me a chance to properly express my point of view; a common characteristic of interviews being an exchange of views. So here is what I propose. Why don’t I let you ask the questions, and answer them yourself for the benefit of your loyal viewers, and let me get on with the important crises that are threatening my country, such as the Azeri aggression, the pandemic, and the suffering economy resulting from these two problems? I have better things to do than sit here and waste my time. Ah, and best of luck to you in interviewing yourself. I am taking my leave.”

    I would certainly do it. Except it is highly unlikely that Mr. Sackur, or the BBC, would invite me to an interview. The closest I have come to that colonialist establishment is to play a recurring role in two episodes of the BBC-produced “Casualty” TV series. I must say, no one interrupted me there, except the director at the end of the take when he shouted, “cut.”.
    Best of luck next time!
    No, seriously, let’s share this less-than-adequate, and highly unprofessional, supposedly BBC-standard, so-called interview; a pure exercise in condescendence.
    Shame on the British, forever!

  17. I am a retired UPI foreign correspondent and magazine writer with more than 40 years of journalism experience and reporting from every corner of the world. I was flabbergasted and amazed at how Stephen Sackur twisted his questions during his interview with Prime Minister Pashinian. He was NOT objective and for a moment I thought he was an Azerbaijani propagandist.
    I am taking up the matter with the BBC editorial folks !!!

  18. Thank you Mr Tutunjian. Journalism is basically dead. It has become a tool to the highest propaganda bidder or the owner/sponsor’s political agendas. Mr Shackur owes the entire Armenian nation an apology for leading such a biased, unethical, deceiving and dishonest so called interview. It might be a boost to his sponsors ratings and ego, but for the landlocked Armenian nation for whom a successful Azeri attack is equivalent to impending genocide this is no joke. Mr Pashinyan on the other hand should not have participated risking an inadequate debate because of his English language barrier.

  19. It was an error on Mr.Pashinyan side to give an interview in a language he doen’t master. He should have answered in Armenian and let the jerk guess with no interruptions.

  20. Very well said. Last few days I was trying to complain to BBC for having such a rude employee. Of course my words wouldn’t have been the same, a lot more worst and I would have also asked the reporter WHEN IS ISRAEL GOING TO MOVE OUT OF PALESTINE. We had enough of you, respect people to be respected.
    Thank you Mr. Tutunjian

  21. I agree with Mr. Tutunjian 100%. Sackur even said. “Armenia has toxic relationship with Turkey.” It seems he has no idea what Turkey has done to Armenians and he is blaming Armenians to have toxic relations with Turkey. Can you imagine? And he is talking in disdain. We must strongly protest and take legal action against him, not because I love Pashinyan, but because of Sackur’s disdain attitude to Armenia and Armenians. His confrontational approach is totally unacceptable.
    I suggest that others as well write a similar protest letters to the BBC and demand an official recorded apology to prevent any legal action against the BBC as well as Sackur. I am going to do the same. I got my MS degree in chemistry from the University of Manchester in England in 1975, and I know how the English think. In this case Sackur’s arrogant attitude must be crushed.

  22. Well said Mr Tutunjian. I’d like to add that Mr Pashinyan stood his ground very well and displayed a strong command of English language, and articulate rebuttals of the interviewer’s questions/assertions. As a result this viewer was satisfied with the interview although I totally agree that the interviewer was biased and unprofessional.

  23. It takes some really arrogant characteristics to ask a Prime Minister of a country to apologize for his soldiers who are defending their nation against their attackers. Mr Sackur presented information as truth without even listening what the prime minister has to say. It was our prime minister’s polite manner that allowed him to practice his arrogance and bias. How dare he ask for apology? Can’t wait to see him interview the corrupt Aliyev. He has to apologize to the Armenian nation and our prime minister.

  24. I wish I never watched this episode. The host of the show was simply arrogant and obviously lacked historical facts about a region that was Armenia for centuries. 80 % of the people in that area are Armenian and he had the nerve to ask the PM to apologize? Who is he to ask a prime minister to apologize for his soldiers who are defending their land and people. He accused the PM of being nationalistic. Yes, we are . Isn’t that the reason UK left the EU Mr. Stephen ? I think he needs to apologize to the whole Armenian nation and to Pashinian.

  25. I have followed Mr. Sackur’s interviews. He uses the same technique. Not informative or polite. He attacks and is loud in his criticism.

    Without listening to his guest and unfortunately his ignorance. I wonder who does his research.

  26. Կեցցէս Պր. Թիւթիւնճեան, սքանչելի կերպով վերլուծած ես սապէս կոչուած “հարցազրոյցը”։ Կարծես Պր․ Փաշինեանին հրաւիրած էին մեղադրեալի աթոռին նստեցնելով հարցաքննելու, և վարկաբեկելու, և ոչ թէ հարցազրոյց ունենալու։ Կը կարծեմ Վարչապետը պէտք է գիտցած ըլլար սարքուած խաղը (երբ այդ նոյն մարդիկը Պր․ Մնացականեանին ալ փորձեցին նոյն ձեւով խաղի բերել) և մերժէր հրաւէրը ու այդ հաճոյքէն զրկեր իրենց։ Հակառակ Պր․Սաքըրին շատ կոպիտ, անքաղաքավար և կողմնակալ հարցաքննութեան, Պր․ Վարչապետը չ՛ինկաւ իրեն ծուղակը, և առանց ինքզինքը կորսնցնելու լաւ պատասխանեց։
    Հետաքրքիր եմ թէ BBC-ին քայլ պիտի առնէ՞ քու բողոքիդ վրայ։

  27. Sackur,
    You need to go to school and learn history, or at least get your home-work done before interviewing somebody. You are not entitled to force to any president or anybody to say sorry for nonesenses. For Mr. Pashinian’s English is his third language. Everybody has good and bad days, we are waiting to see that ………

  28. Thank you, Mr Tutunjian, you have chosen the write terms and words to express, I am sure, the feelings each Armenian or each well informed person had of this Talk. I am glad to say that I completely agree with you and that I sent a similar complaint to BBC as soon as the talk ended. I could not believe, that, not only Mr Sackur was not neutral and apparently had not done his homework beforehand, but that he almost wanted to force the Prime Minister to apologize…! I have not yet received an answer and can’t wait to see what the reaction will be.
    Thank you again
    Ani Adrinée

  29. Well spoken Mr. Tutunjian. I found this ‘interview’ to be deeply embarrassing. Sackur was rude and ignorant, pitching unfounded accusations and siding with a tribe that seeks to erase Armenians from the planet in a continuation of the centuries-old genocide since the Turks invaded in the 11th century. I hope you and others call the BBC to account for this shameful and disrespectful hatchet job on a democratically-elected leader. It would be very interesting to know what questions he would ask of the Azeri leader.

  30. I agree with Mr Tutunjian and Mr Bronozian.
    I recommend that all Armenian organizations along with Armenian government file complaints against Mr Sackur and BBC, demanding an apology for the unprofessional and insulting behavior towards Mr Pashinyan and the Armenian nation.
    If BBC doesn’t oblige, further action should be taken by Armenia; and consider BBC a hostile entity.

  31. I invariably watch every episode of HARD TALK. In this episode with the prime minister of Armenian he was rude and condescending. And his ignorance of the history of the region and the geopolitical situation only proves he lacks proper knowledge.

  32. I absolutely support Mr. Tutunjian’s opinion about this awful interview. I think BBC could hire much more professional journalist than Mr. Sackur who explicitly demonstrated his anti-Armenian orientation.

    I am a refugee from Azerbaijan who left Baku in January of 1991 after well known pogroms of 1988-1990. I witnessed how Armenian population in Baku suffered as the result of aggressive attacks organized by Azerbaijan’s government. Many Armenians were killed, injured, badly beaten, burned, robbed by Azerbaijanis. In my opinion. it was just another Armenian genocide.

    Resolving this conflict in favor of Azerbaijan will mean the complete extermination of Armenian population of Karabakh.

  33. The so-called interview of Mr. Pashinyan by Sackur was a travesty. Not only did Sackur insult Pashinyan and the Armenian people, but he also insulted all Armenian victims of the Azeris. It’s Azeris who should ask for forgiveness for the pogroms and massacres they’ve committed since Stalin gave our lands to them in addition to the atrocities they already had committed.

    Who could forget the Baku massacres of September 1918. Some 15,000 Armenians were murdered in Baku. In June 5 to 7, 1919, 600 to 700 were murdered in several Artsakh villages. In Shushi, from March 23 to 26 1920, Azerbaijani armed units, together with Tatar bandits organized the massacres of the Armenians. Various sources assess the numbered killed 8,000 to 10,000. Bishop Vahan Ter-Grigorian had his tongue torn out before his head was cut off and paraded through the streets on a spike. The chief of police, Avetis Ter-Ghukasian, was turned into a human torch. The bodies of women and children were dumped into water wells.

    About two months after the massacres, on May 15, 1920, Karapet Vardapetyants, a priest and member of the Consistory of Shushi, and Mirza Ter-Sargsian, a church secretary, sent a letter to the Catholicos- of-all Armenians stating that more than 4,000 Armenians were killed during the massacres, 6,000 people fled and 3,000 were taken captive, many of whom were killed later, including women, children and the elderly.

    The newly-founded Republic of Azerbaijan laid its foundations of its genocidal and Armenophobic state policy by cooperating with Turkish representatives who have organized and perpetrated the Armenian Genocide. In this sense Shushi was not the first case; way back in September 1918, Nuri Pasha captured Baku with the help Tatars, killing about 20,000 Armenians, including women, old people and children, in just two months. This policy extended to Nakhichevan, Gandzak, Nukhi, and Aresh, as well as to Artsakh and other Armenian settlements.

    In 1988, when the Soviet Union dissolved and Artsakh Armenians voted to leave Azerbaijan, Azeri mobs went on a rampage. There was widespread rape, mutilation, disemboweling of fetuses; ambulances taking the wounded and the ill to hospital were destroyed… The list of atrocities goes on and on.

  34. Has anybody ever apologised for the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians? The interview was very unjust, unfair and historically untrue . Mr. Sakur not only insulted and bullied the PM of Armenia, he also insulted and undermined the Armenian nation. Why? Is political racism acceptable? He should apologise to Mr. Pashinyan as well as the Armenian people.

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