Taking Grassroots Activism to the Next Level

Turkeys PM Slams Petition: “I find it unreasonable to apologize when there is no reason.”

December 17th, 2008 by

erdogan.jpgTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan criticized a campaign apologizing for the “Great Catastrophe” committed against their Armenian citizenry in 1915.

“They might have committed such a crime themselves, as they are apologizing now. Republic of Turkey does not have such a concern. One can apologize if there is a crime necessitating such an apology. Neither my country, nor my nation has such concerns,” said Erdogan.

Erdogan, of course, is famous for a Washington, DC, National Press Club speech, delivered in November, 2007, where he not only denied the Armenian Genocide but claimed that Turkey’s Armenian citizenry was given “pocket money” (khashlukh) for their move to safer territories in 1915 — mass-deportations into the Syrian desert, which resulted in the death of 1.5 million Armenians. His complete speech can be viewed here.

The online petition, titled “I Apologize” was initiated by three scholars — Ahmet Insel, Baskin Oran and Cengiz Aktar — and journalist, Ali Bayramoglu, and currently has over 11,000 signatories. It has been the target of derision by former Turkish diplomats and a number of top Turkish Parliamentarians, claiming that the authors and cosigners are insulting “Turkishness.”

European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy Chairwoman Hilda Tchoboian has called on European Parliament officials to speak out in support of Turkey’s civil society leaders and their efforts to help the Turkish nation face its genocidal past.

Meanwhile, a Fresno Bee editorial today, once again, got it right.

It isn’t the official recognition of the genocide that Armenians have long sought — in fact, the apology doesn’t use the word “genocide.” But making the gesture comes at some risk to the signers — others have been prosecuted for similar statements, and Hrant Dink, an ethnic Armenian journalist, was killed in 2007 for expressing the truth.

And truth it is: Some 1.5 million Armenians were murdered in the waning years of World War I and thereafter, as the Ottoman Empire collapsed. The killings were planned and orchestrated, the 20th century’s first genocide. Armenians and others who value truth and justice have sought recognition of those crimes for years.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 at 8:28 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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