May 4, 2016 - 11:58 AMT
Rights groups insist top media outlets apologize for Genocide-denying ads

A coalition of 14 national anti-genocide and human rights groups, led by the Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA-ER), have called on The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, and The Philadelphia Inquirer to issue a formal apology for the placement of advertisements denying the Armenian Genocide in their publications and urged an advertisement policy review to prevent similar incidents in the future, ANCA said.

In letters sent to the publications this week, the coalition explains that “the website linked to in the advertisement clearly denies the Armenian Genocide in several ways, including by disputing the number of people killed, referring to the genocide as a “destructive conflict,” or the “1915 tragedy.” While the coded language used on the website may be unfamiliar to outsiders, we are all too familiar with the use of this language as a tool for denial.” The letters went on to note that “the advertisement was run by an organization called the Turkic Platform, a propaganda group that aims to distract conversation from Turkey’s role in the Armenian Genocide through the use of billboard and newspaper advertisements and other activities.”

The letters outline three concrete requests:

A formal apology to readers for running the ad, including to those who are victims or descendants of victims of the Armenian Genocide;

A policy review to ensure the newspaper will no longer accept advertisements which promote hate speech and genocide denial; and

A meeting with senior staff of the newspaper’s advertising department to better understand the policy under which the newspaper accepted the ad.

On April 20, the Istanbul-based Turkic Platform began a U.S.–wide advertisement blitz denying the Armenian Genocide, spending millions on full page print newspaper ads, online news site ads and billboards. Backlash from the ad campaign has been significant with grassroots action leading to ClearChannel Outdoor first pulling its billboards in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco and then stopping the campaign nationwide. Some newspapers, including the San Jose Mercury News, issued apologies and pledged a full review of their ad placement policy.