ANKARA: Akcam: I Have Never Been So Scared


BÝA, Turkey
posted Aug 16 2007

Historian Taner Akcam, of Minnesota University, is receiving death
threats because he terms the events of 1915 a genocide. He has
described the threats as a threat to the freedom of expression.

Prof. Dr. Taner Akcam of the history department at Minnesota University
has declared that he fears for his life since receiving death threats
per email.

In his academic work, he has consistently described the events of
1915 a "genocide".

Persecution by newspaper

Researching the source of the threats, Akcam has found a person with
the assumed name "Holdwater".

The "Hurriyet" newspaper reported on this, saying that Akcam was
"targeting a person who was opposing his Armenian theses". The
newspaper has published a string of news items on Akcam.

Akcam told bianet over the Internet that "Hurriyet" did not give him
the opportunity to have a say. The same reporters who claim that he is
"making himself scarce" had no problems contacting him when a bridge
collapsed in Minnesota recently.

"Very frightened"

What frightens Akcam is the connection between the email threats and
the "Hurriyet"’s campaign and the fact that the newspaper was able to
claim in its headlines that he was "making himself scarce". "I have
overcome much danger, but I don’t remember being this scared", he said.

"When they created that headline, they did not call anywhere. They did
not attempt to find me. This is a very frightening situation for me",
he continued.

He added that he could not but find mysterious similarities with the
lynch campaign against journalist Hrant Dink before his murder.

On 11 June, Akcam received an anonymous email, saying, "Today we
have started the struggle against you and those creatures you call
friends. If we do not get results, we will use alternative measures.

For the peace and truth in the world it is better if sewer germs
like you are eradicated…Tomorrow will be much more difficult for
you…Pray that the devil takes you at once, or you will experience
hell on earth…

The message continued, "You think you know who ‘Holdwater’ is. From
now on, the world will be full of millions of Holdwaters. One day you
and your Armenian blood brothers will drown in a sea of Holdwaters…"

"You will find out who I am"

The message ended, "Who am I? That you will find out, Taner, you will
find out."

Akcam has drawn attention to frightening similarities between the
language of the email threat and the newspaper publications. The
publications started ten days after he received the message.

Akcam argues that the "Hurriyet" newspaper has ignored the most basic
principles of journalism in its publications.

In a statement on 16 July, he had said: "Again, intellectuals and
activists brave enough to question the state’s official history
are being warned. This shameful campaign does not only threaten
me, my family and my colleagues. It makes light of the freedom of

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