G P N S T O R Y
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TEXT OF THE TURKISH COALITION OF AMERICA VS. UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
See also the story of the Turkish lobby's promotions of Guenter Lewy's suit against the SPLCA
On Nov. 30, 2010 the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA), together with first-year university student Sinan Cingilli, originally from Turkey, sued the University of Minnesota for posting a list of “unreliable websites” on its Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS) website. The list of websites deemed unreliable to the study of genocide - because they promoted genocide denial - included that of the TCA.
The university asked the Minnesota District Court to dismiss the case brought forth by the TCA against the university.
According to the Minnesota Daily, the lawsuit has seven charges, including ones relating to freedom of speech, due process, and defamation. The lawsuit also targets University President Robert Bruininks and Prof. Bruno Chaouat, the director of CHGS. The hearing is likely to take place at the U.S. courthouse in St. Paul. The university removed the list before the suit was brought forth, but insisted the decision was made prior to the court case. In an open letter posted on the CHGS website, Chaouat wrote that his motive to remove the list of “unreliable websites” was to refrain from giving those sites any publicity. “My rationale was quite simple: never promote, even negatively, sources of illegitimate information,” he wrote.
Chaouat went on to note that the center, “in accordance with the vast majority of serious and rigorous historians…considers the massacre of the Armenians during World War I as a case of genocide. The decision to remove the links to ‘unreliable websites’ was made before the Turkish Coalition of America began its efforts to intimidate CHGS into removing the links,” wrote Chaouat.
TCA is claiming it has no idea why it was placed on the “unreliable websites” list. A TCA spokesman claimed that, “The point of the case is to remove obstacles to free, critical thinking.”
Bruce Fein from the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund has reportedly claimed that the CHGS was influenced by its donors, which include Armenian organizations.
Although the list has been removed, there is still a “warning to researchers” box on the center’s “curriculum models” page that states: “Students and researchers should be aware that there is a proliferation of websites operated by Holocaust and genocide deniers that CHGS and others in the academic community consider unreliable…”
“As a legal matter we didn’t find anything defamatory or inconsistent with academic freedom in that little box. There was no restriction on free speech,” Mark Rotenberg, the university general counsel, was quoted as saying. “This organization is trying to convert an academic, political, and historical debate into a lawsuit, and that’s not right.”
In its defense against the suit the University of Minnesota has said the following:
"The CHGS and Prof. Chaouat have the right to decide which sources of information they consider valid for purposes of scholarly research. They have the right to comment on and critique the views publicly expressed by others, including the TCA. These are not unusual activities. To the contrary, it is a cornerstone of what scholars do.
"Academic critique, by its very nature, draws distinctions, sometimes based upon the viewpoint expressed in the work/information under review. However, the defendants are not aware of any legal authority that would support the proposition that academic critique by a public university or faculty member of publicly expressed views can serve as the basis for an equal protection claim. To rule otherwise would directly contradict the principles of Academic Freedom.
"The TCA's publicly expressed views, like the publicly expressed views of any other person or entity, are subject to comment and critique, by public universities, members of their faculties, and others. The plaintiffs have the right to express their views. However, they do not have the right to do so from public critique and comment."
Armenian Weekly (January 10, 2011). 'Critical Thinking' or Genocide Denial? TCA vs. U. of Minn
Sievert, Laura (December 12 2001). Turkish group sues U for 'unreliable' website list. Mndaily.com, http://www.mndaily.com/2010/11/30/lawsuit-filed-against-u?page=1
Inside Higher Ed. Suit Over 'Unreliable Websites.' December 1, 2010. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/12/01/minnesota