05 Apr

Tolerance and Fiction

“The Ottoman Lieutenant”, the film that recently caused disputes in the Armenian diaspora, began to be screened in theaters in the United States (USA) on March 10, 2017. Considering the film projects supported by the Armenian diaspora in the United States dealing with Turkish-Armenian relations, “The Ottoman Lieutenant” has become widely regarded by Hollywood producers as a ‘balanced’ production. Meanwhile, the aggressive attitude displayed by the Armenian diaspora about the film is an obstacle against the establishment of a dialogue for Turkish-Armenian reconciliation.

As published on
By Hazel Çağlayan Elbilir; BA in Political Science, analyst at Centre for Eurasian Studies.


The Armenian diaspora has continued to display its reactions to “The Ottoman Lieutenant” after it came to the theaters in the United States. Displaying an aggressive stance against Turkey and values that are associated with Turkey at every opportunity, Armenian lobbies are unable tolerate the expression of any Turkish views. However, the Turkish producers of the film Güneş Çelikcan and Serdar Öğretici stated that the film was shot to help the establishing of a dialogue between the Turks and the Armenians, but that the Armenian side does not stand for a dialogue with Turkish people.

The insults faced by the film’s actors in the social media, the Nazi Swastika sent to the American producer Stephen Joel Brown reveals the unfriendly attitude of the Armenian side and that they are not open to dialogue. These attacks came after the boycott statement made by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). Later on, the American Hellenic Council[1] supported the boycott as well. The boycott, which was launched to prevent the film’s screening in theaters, has spread to universities as well.

The film “The Promise” (which will begin to be shown in April 2017), supported by the extreme nationalist Armenian side that defends the genocide thesis, is actually a propaganda film masquerading as an ordinary love story. It is apparent from the marketing that the ‘The Promise’, a propaganda film for the so-called genocide and produced for political purposes rather than artistic ones, is totally contrary to the desire to establish Turkish-Armenian dialogue. The film critics supporting the Armenian lobby have claimed that “The Ottoman Lieutenant” is offensive, arguing that it mitigates Armenian suffering. However, comparing two films, “The Ottoman Lieutenant” and “The Promise”, it becomes obvious that it is actually “The Promise” that was produced with an offensive mindset. Far from being impartial, the critics of the Armenian lobby went even further, and branded Sir Ben Kingsley, who received the Academy Award for his role in the film “Gandhi” in 1983, as being a misogynist.[2] However, it is known that he adored the female director Isabel Coixet, producer Dana Friedman and screenwriter Sarah Kernochan during his role in “Learning to Drive”, which he starred in 2014. He even called on the cinema sector to encourage more women to take jobs in film productions.[3] It is possible to come across numerous articles, penned by who are financially supported by the Armenian diaspora, where such slanders take place. Such allegations are an indication that film critics supported by the Armenian diaspora are working in a planned manner for such propaganda.

The reaction to the film “The Ottoman Lieutenant” is the latest example of the increasing aggressiveness of the Armenian diaspora. There have been similar incidents, especially in the USA, which show the intolerance exhibited by the Armenian diaspora. The Armenian Youth Federation, which reacts negatively to anything related to Turkey, in November 2016 at the California State University Nortridge, protested the author of book ‘The Young Ataturk’ George Gawrych and prevented him from delivering his speech. The aggressive and destructive effects of the Armenian diaspora have increased in recent times at universities across the USA. The Armenian diaspora’s activities are not only at the protest level, but has reached to the point of heroizing Armenian terrorists. In this context, in 2015, the Syracuse University magazine in New York gave place to the articles that may encourage extremist Armenians into resorting to terrorism again.[4] The activities of the Armenian diaspora continue to increase with the encouragement received from the fact that the its inflammatory behavior is not met with any sanctions. Such a climate undoubtedly undermines the aim of establishing dialogue between not only Turks and Armenians, but also Turkey and Armenia.


[1] Kolasa-Sikiaridi, Kerry. “The American Helleniz Council Calls For Boycott of Film ‘The Ottoman Lieutenant’ For Denying Greek, Assyrians and Armenian Genocide” [Access date: 23 March 2017] [2] “‘The Ottoman Lieutenant’ Review: Josh Hartnett and Ben Kingsley Star In a Lifeless Melodrama Set Against the Armenian Genocide”, [Access date: 19 March 2017] [3] “Ben Kingsley: Why I now know that women make the best directors of men”,–learning-to-drive [Access date: 20 March 2017] [4] MacCurdy, Marian Mesrobian, “Sacred Justice”, [Access date: 20 March 2017]

20 Mar

Multicultural Harmony in NSW

NSW Premier Gladys Berejeklian and the Minister for Multiculturalism Ray Williams on Thursday (March 16) hosted an amazing dinner that brought people from all different backgrounds in the state together.

ATA-A congratulates Ms Berejeklian, Mr Williams and those who organised this gathering for showing the world the greatness of the state of NSW and its determined dedication to multiculturalism, social cohesion, diversity and inclusiveness.

Berejeklian greeting guests.


People from 200 different backgrounds call NSW home and play their part in driving its success. Without tolerance at its core, the state would fail.

NSW Premier Berejeklian, Ecevit Demir from ATA-A, Azerbaijan’s national star Sevinc and Minister for Multiculturalism Ray Williams.

The true success of the Harmony Dinner is its ability to unite Australians from different backgrounds during a time when our differences are being used by some to divide us.

Once again, we would like to thank to everyone and every community that makes Australia the great multicultural nation it is.

Hosted by the Hon. Ray Williams, Minister for Multiculturalism, in the presence of the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP, Premier of New South Wales, the Premier’s Harmony Dinner is a glittering gala to recognise and celebrate the significant contributions made by our multicultural leaders.

Attended by over a thousand representatives of our diverse State, the evening is a sit down cultural dress or black tie dinner, featuring incredible special performances.

You can read about the winners of this year’s multicultural community medals by clicking here.

© State of New South Wales through Multicultural NSW

© State of New South Wales through Multicultural NSW

© State of New South Wales through Multicultural NSW

25 Feb

Khojaly Massacre, Lobbyists and NSW Politics

The influence of lobbyists on some Australian politicians occasionally results in acts that are contrary to our Australian values; bring disrepute to our democracy and eroding people’s confidence in their elected representatives.

Take the recognition of the so-called Republic of Nagarno-Karabakh as an independent nation by the state of New South Wales.

The independence of the Nagarno-Karabakh is not recognised by any nation state around the world, including its most notable protector, Armenia.

Former NSW Legislative Council Member Marie Ficcara, following a trip to the region organised by a prominent Armenian-Australian lobby group, introduced a motion recognising the Republic of Nagarno-Karabakh as an independent state in 2012.

Such motions often go through scarcely populated sessions of the parliament without receiving enough attention from our members or anyone realising the damage it would do to the reputation of our great state.

This one has put the state of NSW globally into a unique and awkward position, in opposition to our Federal government.

Ethnic-Armenian militia, backed by Armenia and Russia, have carved out the area from Azerbaijan after a bloody conflict that saw various degrees of human rights abuses, crimes against humanity and violations of the rule of war.

Among those one stands out with its scale and brutality according to the Human Rights Watch. It is known as the Khojaly Massacre which took place this week 25-years ago. The European Court of Human Rights, in its 2010 ruling, labeled the events in Khojaly as “acts of particular gravity possibly amounting to war crimes or crimes against humanity…”

It is widely accepted that the ethnic-Armenian militia forces, supported by the Russian army, murdered hundreds of ethnic Azerbaijans trying to flee the town on the night of 25 February, 1992.

The town of Khojaly lies only fifteen minutes drive from the capital of the so-called Republic of Nagarno-Karabakh.

Since Ms Ficcara’s motion, the member for Davidson, Jonathan O’Dea, who also chairs the NSW Armenia-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group, has been the most prominent voice of the authority in that capital in recent times. Last year alone, O’Dea delivered three speeches celebrating this illegal authority, without a single mention of the hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani victims of the war that created the de-facto state of Nagarno-Karabakh.

O’Dea, for reasons that are hard to comprehend and contrary to our Australian values, continuously turned a blind eye to various war crimes committed by ethnic-Armenians, including those committed in Khojaly, and ignored the international order and norms by recognising the independence of this so-called state.

For example, the UN resolution 62/243 demanded the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan. So did the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe with its Resolution 1416.

Promoting friendship between peoples is a worthy thing, but Mr O’Dea’s zeal for Armenia and the Nagarno-Karabakh should be leaving his constituents puzzled if they were in fact aware of it.

Recognition of the Nagarno-Karabakh is not the job of the State Parliaments and thankfully, setting out our foreign policy is the job of the Commonwealth government.

Our elected representatives, State or Federal, should be working to foster “peace at home and in the world” so that the tragedies such as the one Khojaly will not happen again.

This peace will not be achieved by our politicians becoming the voice of lobby groups that are driven by ethnic motives and ignorant of the international laws and order.

Ignoring the suffering of civilians on one side of a conflict in order to further the cause of a single lobby group is a personal matter for politicians and their consciouses.


27 Jan

Denmark: Leave history to historians

Last Thursday, January 26, Danish lawmakers decided – in line with parliamentary tradition – to leave history to historians.
In a resolution adopted by an outright majority, the Danes once again made it clear that the characterization of the events of 1915 as “genocide” would be “issuing a judgment about historical events”.
Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance (ATA-A) welcomes the stand of the Danish parliament, as the resolution reflects our position on the issue.

ATA-A was founded in 2013 in Australia to counter a relentless ongoing campaign by some community lobby groups for parliamentary characterization of the events of 1915 as “genocide”.

We believe, as do many Armenians in Turkey and Armenia, that foreign parliaments and politicians often use this tragedy to score cheap political gains.

The Danish Parliament has called for an open dialogue about the events in question as the best path to reconciliation, on the basis of a free and uncensored history research, including the release of all official documents from the period.

ATA-A strongly supports further academic research on the topic, as we believe only the truth can set us all free.

Click here for common myths and facts about 1915


Neither the Danish resolution nor an earlier one passed by the German parliament in mid-2016 can alter the fact that millions suffered, had to flee, and lost loved ones in Anatolia at the turn of the century.

The tragic events in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, including a major draught, conscription, WWI war and civil unrests, cost hundreds of thousands their lives.

Millions were displaced.

Christians, Jews and Muslims alike suffered from the same terrible conditions.

Inter-communal violence carried out by gangs, armed so-called revolutionaries and ordinary folk destroyed many lives.
The people of Anatolia therefore understand each other and share each other’s pain.

We reject the use of the term “genocide”, because there is no credible evidence proving the Ottoman state’s intention to wipe out a group from existence.

Click here for more factsheets from Factcheck Armenia

“Genocide” is a strictly defined legal term and no verdict has been issued by a competent court labeling the events of 1915 as genocide, again due to lack of any evidence.

Genocide is also a historical event and there is no consensus on how to characterize the tragedy in the last days of the Ottoman Empire.

Most respected students of Ottoman history continue their research.

We once again remember the millions of civilians who died in Anatolia in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. May they rest in peace.

For us to build peace, we have to study history with honesty and integrity, setting out the causes and external factors that ignited the events that led to that tragedy.

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Read Guenter Lewy on historical discrepancies here.

Read more on the debate here.