The Associated PressA public broadcasting station in the United States has decided not to air a panel discussion that includes speakers who say that the killing of more than 1 million Armenians in the 20th century was not genocide.
The taped discussion, which was scheduled to run April 17 on WNET-TV in New York, was criticized by elected officials and Armenian-American community leaders, who called it an insult.
But a spokeswoman for the PBS affiliate said Tuesday's decision had nothing to do with politics. "It was an editorial decision," said Stella Giammasi, vice president and director of communications at WNET, Channel 13.
The program was to follow a new documentary, "Armenian Genocide," which features interviews with Kurdish and Turkish citizens speaking about their families' experiences during the period and will air as scheduled. After screening the discussion, Giammasi said, WNET officials determined it "did not add anything to the documentary." A PBS spokeswoman said it was up to its 348 affiliates to decide whether to carry a show.
Democratic U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner, who joined a protest outside WNET's office in Manhattan on Saturday, applauded the move. "They made a decision here that protects (the station's) reputation and doesn't tarnish it," he said.
The panel included historian Justin McCarthy of the University of Louisville in Kentucky who classified the killings as a "mutual genocide" on the part of both Armenians and Turks. He called the decision not to air the panel "politically motivated cowardice." "Scholars should debate all issues," he said.
Omer Turan, who teaches history at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, was also on the panel and said he believed many innocent people on both sides died. "However, I cannot accept to name it as Armenian genocide," he said in an e-mail.