ANKARA: Liberation Publishes Turkish Intellectuals’ Statement

Anatolian Times, Turkey
May 14 2006

Liberation Publishes Turkish Intellectuals’ Statement: We Are
Extremely Concerned About The Draft Law

PARIS – Turkish intellectuals expressed concerns about the draft law
which was submitted to the French parliament by the Socialist Party
with the aim of punishing those who deny so-called Armenian genocide.

In a statement published by the French Liberation newspaper,
intellectuals said, “those who brought the draft onto agenda of the
French parliament have to take into consideration existence of
persons and institutions who are trying to prevent and punish
discussions on the events of 1915. Such a draft law will obstruct
free discussions both in France and Turkey. It will also disrupt the
process of questioning historical and common memory.“

The statement signed by Baskin Oran, Elif Safak, Etyen Mahcupyan,
Halil Berktay, Hrant Dink, Murat Belge, Muge Gocek and Ragip Zarakolu
said, “we, as citizens of the Republic of Turkey, feel the burden of
the inhuman calamity which Ottoman Armenians were subject to. We
share their pain. No one can deny the brutality of 1915. All efforts
to find a cause for those events will be in vain.“

“As the conference in Istanbul on September 23rd-24th, 2005, and
similar other initiatives revealed, democratization process has been
going on in Turkey. This process can enlighten the 90-year darkness.
We will maintain our struggle with calmness and determination to this
end,“ they said.

“However, we are extremely concerned about the draft law which will
be debated by the French parliament in the coming days. Such a draft
law will disrupt the process of questioning historical and common
memory. It will also obstruct free discussions both in France and
Turkey,“ they said.

Turkish intellectuals stressed, “we need to overcome countercharges
of Turks and Armenians in a vicious circle, and turn them into a
humanitarian dialogue and common history by conveying our memories to
each other. We can reach this target only through freedom of
expression and debate, and exchange of information. Like fight
against crimes against humanity, freedom of expression is also an
universal principle. Defending existence of one of these two elements
cannot eliminate existence of the other.“

“Today, unfortunately, both parties are far away from conveying
their way of perception to the other. In recent years, Armenian
nationalists have been supporting laws restricting freedom of
expression in response to the Turkish state`s policy of denial.
However, their efforts can trigger harder disagreements. Therefore,
we call on Armenians not to make a mistake which will be quite
difficult to correct in future,“ they added.

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