A father is suing the Turkish Education Ministry for forcing his 11-year-old daughter to watch a "racist" and "disturbing" film countering claims that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenians in 1915 with graphic allegations of Armenian atrocities against Turks.
The landmark case takes on what human rights activists have called the state's militarist policy of brainwashing Turkey's schoolchildren to the point of racist paranoia, aiming to preserve a nationalist status quo criticized by the European Union, which Turkey is keen to join.
"My daughter was very disturbed and frightened by the documentary and kept asking me if the Armenians had cut us up," said Serdar Kaya, an ethnic Turkish doctor, who is suing the ministry and the child's school for inciting racial hatred.
"There are many mass graves, bones and skulls in the DVD. They have interviewed old grandads who inspire confidence and compassion. When they say things like 'They cut off his head' and 'They used it instead of firewood', that is bound to stay with the children," Serdar Degirmencioglu, a psychologist, told the Armenian newspaper Agos when news first broke that the documentary was being shown to primary school children — including ethnic Armenian Turks.
The Education Ministry says that it has stopped the distribution of the documentary, "Sari Gelin (Blonde Bride)," named after an Armenian folk song. But it has apparently not recalled it and critics say that it remains part of the curriculum.