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During the ninety-one years since the beginning of the Armenian Genocide, officials from the Ottoman government, and later from the Republic of Turkey have refused to acknowledge the mass murder and deportation of Armenians and others constituted genocide. The denial has taken many forms and used many strategies. The readings in this lesson, along with the film clip, provide background for an informed discussion about this pattern of denial. While it is important for students to understand that there is no legitimate debate that the Armenian Genocide occurred, there is disagreement over the motivations of the perpetrators. According to the International Association of Genocide Scholars, "There may be differing interpretations of genocide-how and why the Armenian Genocide happened, but to deny its factual and moral reality as genocide is not to engage in scholarship but in propaganda and efforts to absolve the perpetrator, blame the victims, and erase the ethical meaning of this history."This lesson addresses the following essential questions: What is genocide? What evidence exists to show that the crimes against the Armenians constitute acts of genocide? Why do people deny that something happened? What steps has Turkey taken to create the impression that the Armenian genocide did not occur? Why might Turkey want to deny that the Armenian genocide took place? Should all speech to protected? What about speech that attempts to distort history? Should people be allowed to deny that the Armenian genocide ever took place? What are the implications for Armenians, Turks and the international community of allowing denials of the Armenian genocide?
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