TURKISH GROUP CLAIMS U OF MINN. 'BLACKLISTED' SITE

LaCrosse Tribune
http://lacrossetribune.com/news/state-and-regional/mn/article_9a47107c-fdcb-11df-8bf0-001cc4c03286.html
Dec 1 2010
Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS - A Turkish advocacy group has sued the University of
Minnesota, claiming one department "blacklisted" its website because
of the group's pro-Turkish viewpoint on the killings of Armenians in
the Ottoman Empire 95 years ago.

The university's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies listed
the Turkish Coalition of America's site as "unreliable" because the
Washington-based group disputes that what happened to the Armenians
was genocide, The Minnesota Daily reported Wednesday. The center's
list was removed from its website last month.

The coalition's lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court, claims that
University of Minnesota students and professors generally avoid
using the group's website because they fear "adverse consequence,
including the loss of academic standing."

The suit alleges violations of constitutional rights and defamation,
and seeks unspecified money damages and any other remedies the court
deems appropriate.

The university's general counsel, Mark Rotenberg, told the newspaper
that the lawsuit had no merit and the university would seek to have
it dismissed. Rotenberg said he was "perplexed" the plaintiffs sued
after the information was removed.

"The faculty and the university have a right to voice their opinions
on the reliability of source materials that are found on the Internet,"
Rotenberg said.

Turkey and Armenia have long been locked in a bitter dispute over the
deaths of Armenians in Turkey. Many historians estimate that up to 1.5
million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks in what constituted
genocide around the time of World War I. Turkey disputes the claim,
saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of
civil war and unrest.

The coalition said the genocide question is a "genuine historic and
legal controversy."

Along with the university, the lawsuit names the Center for Holocaust
and Genocide Studies' director, Bruno Chaouat, and the university's
president, Robert Bruininks.

The center's list of links had said students should not use the sites
because they denied genocide, were supported by unknown organizations
or contained "a strange mixture of fact and opinion." The coalition's
website was the first site listed.

Although the center removed the list after the Turkish American Legal
Defense Fund complained to Bruininks, Chaouat said he had long intended
to remove it as part of an update to the website.

"My rationale was quite simple: never promote, even negatively,
sources of illegitimate information," Chaouat wrote on the site.

Besides the coalition, the plaintiffs include Sinan Cingilli, a
freshman from Turkey who said he was afraid to use the "blacklisted"
websites.

"The point of the case is to remove obstacles to free, critical
thinking," Cingilli told The Minnesota Daily.

Larry Frost, an attorney for the plaintiffs, added: "The university's
rules and regulations specify the right to research and write from
any source, and blacklisting sources does not comport well with that."




From: A. Papazian