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Starbucks Put Up Posters Deeply Offensive To Armenians

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Starbucks has pulled a poster from a store in the Valley after complaints that the picture was deeply offensive to Armenians.On Wednesday, the Armenian National Committee of America posted to their Facebook page a photo of the offending artwork, which shows women in traditional Armenian dress (one of which is holding a Starbucks drink) underneath balloons with the Turkish flag. "Why is Starbucks selling coffee using an image of women, dressed in traditional Armenian costumes, celebrating a Turkish state that systematically victimized Armenian women during the Armenian Genocide, and that still denies this crime against all humanity?" asked ANCA. Just hours later, the official Starbucks account responded in the comments, admitting, "We missed the mark here and we apologize for upsetting our customers and the community." The comment went on to say that the poster had been removed from the Woodland Hills store where it was spotted.

According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the poster was spotted at other stores throughout the L.A. area, but a company spokesman told Asbarez News they were working on having them all removed.

Historians believe up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 in what has been called The Armenian Genocide. To this day Turkey (the modern successor of the Ottoman Empire) does not acknowledge the events as a genocide, leading to strained relations with its neighbor Armenia.

The poster was part of a collection of images captured by Tim Rose, Ami Vitale and Peter Turnley of people drinking Starbucks around the world. Although Rose did not take the photo, he has since removed the picture in question from his website and put up a statement apologizing to the Armenian community. "Neither I nor the photographer knew the dancers were Armenian. We were traveling around the world shooting photojournalistic images for the brand and captured this image during a festival in 2011 for Ataturk," Rose explains. "I am in full support of their plight and would never have knowingly supported any action that would hurt either them or cause unnecessary pain."

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This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which is commemorated on April 24.

Update [Feb. 22]: Post has been updated to clarify that the original photograph was not taken by Tim Rose. He also tells LAist that, "This image has been in stores in Turkey for years and to my knowledge it has nothing to do with Armenia."