ISTANBUL (BBC)–The father of an 11-year old girl in Turkey, Serdar Kaya, is suing The Turkish Education Minister, angry that his daughter was forced to watch what he called a "very bloody propaganda film" at school, the BBC reports.
Sari Gelin, or "Blonde Bride", was commissioned by the Turkish General Staff and distributed in recent months by the education ministry. It is yet another attempt to deny what Turkey calls "baseless" claims that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against the Armenia’s in 1915.
The DVD was sent to all elementary schools with a note instructing teachers to show it to pupils and report back. At the school of Kaya’s daughter, children as young as six had to watch.
"This film is not fit for adults, let alone children," he said. "They’re promoting discrimination, branding certain people as ‘others’ and teaching children to do the same. My daughter will not be part of this enmity."
Kaya has applied to the courts to sue Education Minister Huseyin Celik, arguing the film incites ethnic hatred against Armenia’s.
In a statement last month, the ministry said it had stopped distributing the film and claimed it was never intended for children. But teachers are still receiving official reminders to screen it.
Sari Gelin perpetuates the Turkish state’s denialist line that the Armenia’s betrayed the benevolent Ottoman Empire during World War I, siding with invading foreign forces and massacring thousands of Turks. The film says the Armenia’s were "relocated" as a result of their actions. There is no mention of the hundreds of thousands who perished or were killed on the long march through the desert.
Instead, elderly men relate how Armenia’s cooked Turkish babies alive and used civilians as firewood.
"The word Armenian is used very many times and always negatively," said Ayse Gul Altinay, a board member of the Hrant Dink Foundation. The foundation created in his memory has also applied to the courts to get Sari Gelin withdrawn from schools.
"Showing young people a film with graphic scenes of violence, that repeats over and again that the Armenia’s stabbed the Turks in the back, and killed innocent women and babies and civilians is very dangerous," Altinay says. "We worry it will create more hatred."
The education ministry’s statement calls Sari Gelin a balanced, historical account, but the clear message it gives Turkish school-children is that Armenia’s are traitors and their enemies.