200 prominent Turks apologize for great catastrophe of 1915

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In December 2008, 200 prominent Turkish intellectuals released an apology for the "great catastrophe of 1915". This was a clear reference to the Armenian Genocide, a term still too sensitive to use so openly. The signatories also announced a website related to this apology, and called on others to visit the site and sign the apology as well.

This is the complete, brief text of the apology:

My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers and sisters. I apologize to them.

A few days after the site went up, it had reached over 13,000 signatories before it was hacked and taken offline for a few days. Later, it was back up and as of December 24 has over 22,000 signatories. A rival campaign of "I do NOT apologize" began meanwhile, has over 50,000 signatories on December 24.

Contents

Thousands Sign Turkish Apology To Armenians

By Emil Danielyan

Thousands of Turks have joined their prominent countrymen in publicly apologizing for the World War I-era mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

The unprecedented apology was initiated earlier this month by a group of 200 Turkish academics, journalists, writers and artists disagreeing with the official Turkish version of what many historians consider the first genocide of the 20th century. Their petition, entitled “I apologize,” was posted on a special website ( http://www.ozurdiliyoruz.com ) on Monday. More than 7,000 Turks signed it as of Tuesday evening, indicating their names, occupations and places of residence.

“I cannot conscientiously accept the indifference to the Great Catastrophe that Ottoman Armenians suffered in 1915, and its denial,” reads the petition. “I reject this injustice and acting of my own will, I share the feelings and pains of my Armenian brothers and sisters, and I apologize to them.”

The signatories were careful not to describe the Armenian massacres as genocide, a highly sensitive term resented by the Turkish state and nationalist circles. Some prominent intellectuals that have used the word have been prosecuted for “insulting Turkishness.” One of them, Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink, was gunned down by a nationalist teenager in January 2007.

The “Great Catastrophe” evoked by the authors of the petition appears to be a translation of the Armenian phrase “Mets Yeghern” frequently used with regard to the 1915 massacres.

Turkish nationalists were quick to criticize the online apology. The Associated Press news agency reported that a group of some 60 retired Turkish diplomats issued a statement on Monday describing the move "as unfair, wrong and unfavorable to national interests." "Such an incorrect and one-sided attempt would mean disrespecting our history," the diplomats said.

Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the opposition Nationalist Action Party said: "No one has the right to insult our ancestors, to present them as criminals and to ask for an apology."

"We are not betraying anyone. We are merely telling the Armenians that we share their grief," countered Gila Benmayor, a journalist and columnist for the mass-circulation “Hurriyet” newspaper. Benmayor told the Associated Press that she signed the petition because she believes "the time has come for change."

Among the intellectuals who initiated the apology is Hasan Cemal, a veteran columnist working for another leading Turkish daily, “Milliyet.” Cemal is a grandson of Ahmed Djemal Pasha, one of the three top “Young Turks” that ruled Ottoman Turkey during the final years of the empire and are believed to have masterminded the slaughter more of more than a million Ottoman Armenians.

Djemal Pasha was assassinated by an Armenian gunman in Tbilisi in 1922. Hasan Cemal met with the assassin’s grandson when he traveled to Yerevan last September to cover Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s historic visit to Armenia.

The petition’s signatories also include Cem Ozdemir, the ethnic Turkish leader of Germany’s Green Party.

Turkish thinkers' Armenia apology

By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Istanbul

An internet petition has been launched in Turkey, apologising for the "great catastrophe of 1915" when hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians died.

Many international historians say the massacres and deaths of Armenians during their forced removal from what is now eastern Turkey were "genocide".

Turkey firmly denies that, saying those who died were just victims of war.

The petition - the first of its kind - was initiated by prominent Turkish academics and newspaper columnists.

They say they want to challenge the official denial and provoke discussion in Turkish society about what happened.

The petition is entitled "I apologise".

A short statement at the top reads: "My conscience cannot accept the ignorance and denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and - on my own behalf - I share the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers - and I apologise to them."

It is a bold and original step in a country where writer Hrant Dink was killed just last year for openly saying that the events of 1915 were genocide.

Previously he had been tried for "insulting Turkishness" for his comments on 1915 - as was Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel prize-winning author, who said that a million Armenians were killed "in these lands" and no-one dared talk about it.

Sparking discussion

Nationalist politicians have condemned the move as an insult to the Turkish nation, and the organisers have received abusive emails.

A group of some 60 former Turkish ambassadors has issued a counter statement, calling this petition unfair and contrary to Turkey's national interests .

Turkey admits that many Armenians were killed but it denies any genocide, saying the deaths happened during widespread fighting in World War I.

The petition does not call on the state to apologise for what happened and it deliberately avoids the highly controversial definition of genocide.

But the Turkish academic who dreamed up the idea says he hopes it will spark a proper discussion of what happened and promote empathy for what the Armenians suffered.

Cengiz Aktar called it the responsibility of all Turks to think and talk openly about how, and why, the Armenian people disappeared from a land they inhabited for 4,000 years.

"Our aim is to empathise with the grief of our Armenian brothers," he said.

The petition's authors say they have received many encouraging comments.

In the first few hours after the petition was launched, more than 1,000 people had signed their names beneath it.


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Signatories

Adalet Ağaoğlu , Bejan Matur , Ertuğrul Kürkçü , İbrahim Betil , Mustafa Suphi Erden , Şenol Karakaş, Adnan Ekşigil , Berat Günçıkan , Esra Mungan , İbrahim Kaboğlu , Mustafa Yasacan , Şerafettin Elçi, Ahmet Çakmak , Betül Tanbay , Evin Doğu , İhsan Dağı , Naci Kutlay , Şeyhmus Diken, Ahmet Çiğdem , Bilge Contepe , F.Levent Şensever , İpek Çalışlar , Nail Satlıgan , Sezgin Tanrıkulu, Ahmet Evin , Bülent Atamer , Faruk Bildirici , Işıl Kasapoğlu , Necmiye Alpay , Şirin Tekeli, Ahmet İnsel , Bülent Aydın , Fatma Tülin , Julide Kural , Nedim Gürsel , Suavi Aydın, Ahmet İsvan , Burhan Şenatalar , Fazıl Hüsnü Erdem , Kemal Gökhan Gürses , Neşe Düzel , Şükrü Erbaş, Ahmet Kuyaş , Canan Tolon , Fehim Caculi , Kemal Göktaş , Nil Mutluer , Süleyman Göncü, Akif Kurtuluş , Celal Başlangıç , Ferda Balancar , Kezban Hatemi , Nilgün Toker , Tahsin Yeşildere, Aksu Bora , Cem Mansur , Ferda Keskin , Koray Çalışkan , Nilüfer Göle , Tanıl Bora , Alaz Kuseyri , Cem Özdemir , Ferhat Kentel , Koray Düzgören , Nurhan Yentürk , Tarhan Erdem, Ali Arif Cangı , Cemil Koçak , Fethiye Çetin , Korhan Gümüş , Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu , Tarık Ziya Ekinci, Ali Bayramoğlu , Cengiz Aktar , Fikret Adanır , Lale Mansur , Ömer Laçiner , Temel İskit , Ali Nesin , Cengiz Alğan , Fikret Başkaya , Levent Yılmaz , Ömer Madra , Tuna Kiremitçi, Alper Görmüş , Cengiz Çandar , Fikret Toksöz , Leyla İpekçi , Oral Çalışlar , Ümit Fırat, Arzu Başaran , Cezmi Ersöz , Filiz Ali , Leyla Neyzi , Orhan Koçak , Ümit Güney, Asaf Savaş Akat , Çiğdem Mater , Filiz Koçali , Mahir Günşiray , Orhan Miroğlu , Ümit Kardaş, Aslı Erdoğan , Coşkun Aral , Füsun Üstel , Mahmut Temizyürek , Orhan Silier , Ümit Kıvanç , Atila Eralp , Deniz Türkali , Gencay Gürsoy , Mebuse Tekay , Osman Köker , Ümit Şahin, Atilla Yayla , Derya Alabora , Gila Benmayor , Mehmet Demir , Osman Murat Ülke , Umut Özkırımlı, Attila Tuygan , Dilek Kurban , Gönül Dinçer , Mehmet Güleryüz , Oya Aydın , Ünal Ünsal, Aydan Baktır , Doğan Özgüden , Gülçin Santırcıoğlu , Mehmet Soylu , Oya Baydar , Vedat Yıldırım, Aydın Cıngı , Doğan Tarkan , Güllü Aybar , Mehmet Ural , Özlem Dalkıran , Yahya Madra, Ayhan Aktar , Ebru Erkekli , Gülseren Onanç , Melek Göregenli , Perihan Mağden , Yalçın Ergündoğan, Ayhan Bilgen , Ece Temelkuran , Günay Göksu Özdoğan , Mesut Saganda , Pınar Selek , Yaman Yıldız, Ayla Gürsoy , Edhem Eldem , Gürhan Ertür , Mine Kırıkkanat , Piyale Madra , Yasemin Çongar, Aylin Aslım , Emine Algan , Habib Bektaş , Mithat Sancar , Ragıp Duran , Yasemin Göksu, Ayşe Batumlu , Emine Uşaklıgil , Hadi Uluengin , Mücteba Kılıç , Rasim Ozan Kütahyalı , Yavuz Bingöl, Ayşe Berktay , Emrullah Beytar , Hakan Tahmaz , Muharrem Erbey , Roni Margulies , Yavuz Önen, Ayşe Buğra , Enis Batur , Haldun Dostoğlu , Muhsin Kızılkaya , Şahin Alpay , Yeliz Kızılarslan, Ayşe Erzan , Eren Keskin , Hale Tenger , Murat Belge , Şanar Yurdatapan , Yıldıray Oğur, Ayşe Gözen , Ergin Cinmen , Halil Berktay , Murat Çelikkan , Şebnem K.Fincancı , Yıldız Önen, Ayşe Kadıoğlu , Ergün Eşsizoğlu , Hasan Cemal , Murat Morova , Şebnem Sönmez , Yücel Sayman, Ayşe Önal , Erkan Goloğlu , Hidayet Şefkatli Tuksal , Murat Necip Arman , Şehbal Şenyurt , Yusuf Alataş, Aziz Gökdemir , Erkan Şen , Hüsamettin Onanç , Murat Paker , Selim Deringil , Zeynep Tanbay, Barış Pirhasan , Erol Katırcıoğlu , Hüseyin Hatemi , Murathan Mungan , Semih Kaplanoğlu , Zozan Özgökçe, Baskın Oran , Ersin Salman , Hüsnü Öndül , Mustafa Arslantunalı , Semra Somersan

Turkish Prime Minister's reaction

Turkey’s Erdogan Slams Armenian Apology Campaign

Reuters, Associated Press

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan criticized on Wednesday a public apology by some 200 Turkish intellectuals and academics for the massacres of ethnic Armenians in World War One.

The Internet campaign, which has drawn the ire of nationalists who regard it as an act of national betrayal, coincides with a diplomatic rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia to end almost 100 years of hostility.

"I don't accept the campaign that they have started and I don't support it," Erdogan told reporters. "It will not have any benefit other than stirring up trouble, disturbing our peace and undoing the steps which have been taken".

He added that “if there is a crime, then those who committed it can offer an apology. My nation, my country has no such issue.”

Turkey accepts that many Armenians were killed during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, but strongly denies Armenian claims it was genocide, saying that Muslim Turks also died in inter-ethnic conflicts. Western historians have backed Armenian claims that the killings amounted to genocide.

The apology, which avoids using the term genocide and instead describes the events as a great catastrophe, threatens to reignite a controversy that challenges one of the ideological foundations of modern Turkey. It also comes at a time of heightened nationalism in Turkey.

Organizers said the initiative, posted on the Internet Monday along with a non-binding petition to gather signatures, is meant to allow Turks to offer a personal apology and to end an official silence.

President Abdullah Gul became the first Turkish leader to visit Armenia in September as Turkey has sought to improve ties. Several meetings between Turkish and Armenian officials have followed and the two countries have expressed hopes of restoring full diplomatic relations soon.

Erdogan said Wednesday the apology threatens to damage improved relations between the countries and it is not binding for Turkey. "I would not be a part of it," he said.

Turkish President's reaction

Turkey's President Defends Armenia Apology Campaign

Reuters

Turkish President Abdullah Gul distanced himself on Thursday from criticism by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan over an apology by 200 Turkish intellectuals for the alleged genocide of ethnic Armenians in World War One.

The Internet campaign, which has drawn the ire of nationalists who regard it as an act of national betrayal, coincides with a diplomatic rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia led by Gul himself to end almost 100 years of hostility.

"The president's view is that the fact that the issue is discussed freely in academic and public circles is proof of the presence of democratic discussion in Turkey," a statement from Gul's office said.

On Wednesday, Erdogan said the campaign had no other benefit than "stirring up trouble, disturbing our peace and undoing the steps which have been taken".

Gul, a moderate former member of the ruling AK Party, was foreign minister under Erdogan until he was elected to the largely ceremonial post of president in July 2007. Media reports have speculated the two men have grown apart.

Turks, including Nobel-winning author Orhan Pamuk, have been prosecuted in the European Union candidate country for affirming that the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 amount to genocide. Turkey accepts that many Armenians were killed during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, but strongly denies Armenian claims it was genocide, saying that Muslim Turks also died in inter-ethnic conflicts. Western historians have backed Armenian claims that the killings amounted to genocide.

The apology, which avoids the word genocide and uses instead the term great catastrophe, threatens to reignite a controversy that challenges one of the ideological foundations of modern Turkey. It comes at a time of heightened nationalism in Turkey.

The staunchly nationalist opposition MHP party condemned the campaign, saying Turkey had "no crime to apologize about". "Nobody has the right to demand apology by distorting history and smearing our ancestors by portraying them as criminals," the party said in statement.

Organizers said the initiative, posted on the Internet (www.ozurdiliyoruz.com) along with a non-binding petition to gather signatures, was meant to allow Turks to offer a personal apology and to end an official silence.

Gul became the first Turkish leader to visit Armenia in September. Several meetings between Turkish and Armenian officials have followed and the two countries have expressed hopes of restoring full diplomatic relations soon.

Deputy of Parliament accuses Gul of being closet Armenian

Gül files suit against Arıtman
Hurriyet

ANKARA - President Abdullah Gül filed a case for compensation yesterday against a main opposition deputy who made controversial claims about his alleged Armenian roots.

The amount sought in the claim, YTL 1, represents symbolic compensation for damages for CHP’s Canan Arıtman’s false allegations about his mother’s ethnic origins and her public slander of his position as a statesman, reported the Anatolia news agency yesterday. The case was filed by Gül’s lawyer, Ömer Küçüközcan.

Ancestry accusations In protest to Gül’s approach over an apology campaign launched by Turkish intellectuals about World War I-era killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, Arıtman said Gül was a secret Armenian.

"Look at his ethnic origins on his mother side," she said in controversial remarks last week that also drew a reaction from her party. Speaking to reporters at the CHP’s party congress Sunday, Arıtman said she would file a counter-claim if the president opened a case against her. The CHP deputy received a written warning from her party.

Before the case was filed, Gül said the registered history of his family that had been traced back for centuries was Muslim and Turkish.


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Gul criticizes apology

By Emil Danielyan

Turkish intellectuals’ campaign of public apology for the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire will reflect negatively on Turkey’s ongoing diplomatic rapprochement with Armenia, according to President Abdullah Gul.

The Internet campaign was initiated last month by a group of 200 Turkish academics, journalists, writers and artists disagreeing with the official Turkish version of what many historians consider the first genocide of the 20th century. Their petition, entitled “I apologize,” was posted on a special website (www.ozurdiliyoruz.com) on December 15. More than 26,000 Turks have signed it since then.

Although the petition stops short of describing the 1915 massacres as genocide, it has drawn the ire of nationalists who regard it as an act of national betrayal. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and powerful military have also criticized it.

Gul initially distanced himself from the criticism, saying that the unprecedented apology testifies to freedom of speech in his country. But in a January 2 interview with Turkey’s ATV television, he warned that the campaign will damage efforts to normalize Turkish-Armenian ties.

"When we examine the latest debates in terms of their results, I do not think they make a positive contribution," Gul was reported to say. "Ideas that we like or not, support, or even fight against, can be discussed if they do not target violence. However, the polarization sometimes can reach serious dimensions due to the sensibility of the subjects," he added.

An end to the decades-long campaign for international recognition of the Armenian genocide has been one of Turkey’s preconditions for establishing diplomatic relations and opening its border with Armenia. Ankara also makes that contingent on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan. Successive governments in Yerevan have stood for an unconditional normalization of bilateral ties.

Those relations have improved dramatically since President Serzh Sarkisian took office in April 2008. Sarkisian responded positively to Ankara’s offers of a “dialogue” and invited Gul to visit Yerevan and watch with him the September 6 game between the two countries’ national soccer teams.

Gul accepted the invitation, becoming the first Turkish head of state to set foot in independent Armenia. His historic trip was followed by a series of fresh negotiations between the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers. The Armenian Foreign Ministry expressed hope this week that these “positive trends” will continue in 2009.

"Sometimes you work silently, sometimes you carry out works before the public eye. But I can say that works are under way regarding this matter," Gul told ATV, according to the Anatolia news agency.

According to some diplomatic sources privy to Turkish-Armenian talks, Ankara now seems ready to stop linking improved relations with Armenia with a Karabakh settlement if Yerevan accepts its proposal to form a Turkish-Armenian commission of historians tasked with examining the events of 1915. The proposal was rejected by Armenia’s former President Robert Kocharian. Sarkisian has indicated, however, that he does not object to it in principle.

Retired Ambassador's reaction

RETIRED DIPLOMATS AGAINST INTELLECTUALS' APOLOGY

Today's Zaman Dec 17 2008 Turkey

Deniz BölukbaÅ~_ı claims that in Turkey there is an Armenian lobby and a campaign of apology forms a part of their objectives.

A group of retired Turkish ambassadors signed a declaration on Monday urging intellectuals Baskın Oran, Ahmet İnsel and Ali Bayramoglu, who had recently launched a campaign to apologize for the Ottoman killings of Armenians in 1915, "not to be a part of an insidious plan against Turkish national interests."

Recently, some Turkish intellectuals began to collect signatures for a statement that contained a personal apology for the events of 1915, which the Armenian claims of genocide are based on.

"My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my part, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I apologize to them," the intellectuals' statement said.

But the group of retired diplomats, which includes former Foreign Ministry undersecretaries Korkmaz Haktanır, Å~^ukru Elekdag and Onur Oymen, in a counter-declaration stressed that the move was a "disrespectful act toward Turkish history and its martyrs."

"Such a wrong and unilateral initiative is disrespectful to our history and also to our people who lost their lives in violent terrorist attacks during the history of the republic and during the last years of the Ottoman Empire," the declaration stated.

The diplomats' declaration made a point of mentioning the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) in which 70 people, including five ambassadors, four consul generals and 34 public workers, lost their lives and 574 people were wounded.

It further claimed that "concessions such as unilateral apologies" do not serve the aim of improving relations between Armenia and Turkey.

"If the aim is to improve relations between Turkey and Armenia and come closer, the proper way to do this is not to make concessions such as unilateral apologies, but to mutually recognize borders and territorial integrity and it will be inevitable that we will share the pain that both sides suffered during history," the declaration claimed, and added, "Otherwise unilateral acts like apologizing will be wrong, against the facts of history and will have grave consequences."

The diplomats underlined that the forced immigration of Armenians in 1915 had "bitter results" under war conditions, "but the pain of the Turks were no less than that of the Armenians due to the Armenian insurgency and terrorism," the diplomats claimed.

"First of all, Armenians who have killed innocent Turkish diplomats, public servants and their families in the recent past should apologize to the Turkish nation. These killers are still alive and unpunished as they have been protected by Armenia and some other countries," the declaration noted.

The diplomats also claimed that the apology was the second phase of a plan, the first phase of which was to influence world opinion with terrorist attacks. They claimed that they are aware of the third phase of plan, which is to demand compensation and make territorial claims.

The other diplomats who signed the declaration include former Foreign Ministry spokesmen Necati Utkan and Omer Akbel. It was also signed by former Ambassadors Akın Alp Tuna, Ertugrul Cıragan, Onur Oymen, Candan Azer and Gun Gur, together with some others.

The retired Ambassadors are supported by Oktay Vural, the deputy chairman of the parliamentary group of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who said the retired ambassadors had done the right thing but interestingly the Foreign Ministry had kept quiet.

Former ambassador and now-MHP deputy Deniz BölukbaÅ~_ı claimed that in Turkey there is an Armenian lobby and a campaign of apology forms a part of their objectives.

"Who is apologizing for who? If there is anyone who should apologize, it should be the intellectuals and Armenians. They should apologize to the thousands of Anatolian people who suffered the Armenian atrocities. Are these intellectuals apologizing to the Armenian terrorists who killed Turkish diplomats and are still living in Armenia?" BölukbaÅ~_ı asked.


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Turkish Military Opposes Armenian Apology Campaign

Turkey's powerful generals on Friday stepped into a deepening controversy over an apology by Turkish intellectuals for the mass killings of Armenians in World War One, saying the campaign had "harmful consequences".

The Internet initiative, which has drawn criticism from Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and nationalists, coincides with a diplomatic rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia to end almost 100 years of hostility. Nearly 14,000 people have signed the apology.

"We definitely think that what is done is not right. Apologizing is wrong and can yield harmful consequences," Brigadier General Metin Gurak, spokesman for the General Staff, told a news conference.

On Wednesday, Erdogan said the campaign had no other benefit than "stirring up trouble, disturbing our peace and undoing the steps which have been taken".

President Abdullah Gul has distanced himself from those comments, hailing the initiative as proof of Turkey's democratic health. He became the first Turkish leader to visit Armenia in September as Turkey sought to improve ties.

Turks, including Nobel prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk, have been prosecuted in the European Union candidate country for affirming that the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 amounted to genocide.

Turkey accepts that many Armenians were killed during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, but strongly reject Armenian assertions it was genocide, saying that Muslim Turks also died in inter-ethnic conflicts. Western historians have backed Armenian arguments that the killings amounted to genocide.

Turkish speaker calls apology campaign unfair

www.worldbulletin.net, Turkey Dec 21 2008


Armenia apology campaign "unfair", Turkish speaker says

Turkish speaker Toptan, said Sunday, in regard to the incidents of 1915, that it was unfair to try to convict Turkey without a trial and bring this country to the point of apologizing.

Sunday, 21 December 2008 12:41

The Speaker of Turkish Parliament, Koksal Toptan, said Sunday, in regard to the incidents of 1915, that it was unfair to try to convict Turkey without a trial and bring this country to the point of apologizing.

Speaking to reporters prior to his departure from Ankara's Esenboga International Airport for Macedonia, Toptan said that he could not understand Turkish citizens who initiated an "apology" campaign on the incidents of 1915.

Those, who signed the apology declaration, issued such declaration in the name of freedom of expression but they could not tolerate criticisms against them, Toptan said.

I just can not understand such an attitude, Toptan said.

AA


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Prosecutor investigates apology for possible criminal charges

Turkey Investigates Group For Armenian Apology
RFE/RL
Reuters

A Turkish prosecutor has opened an investigation that could lead to criminal charges against the authors of an online apology for the World War One killings of Armenians, state-run news agency Anatolian reported on Friday.

The state prosecutor in Ankara is probing whether the group of intellectuals who offered the apology violated Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which criminalizes "insulting the Turkish people," Anatolian reported.

The group under investigation set up an online apology in December for the "catastrophe" Armenians experienced more than 90 years ago, a topic still considered taboo in Turkey.

Turkey denies allegations that groups of Ottoman Turks conducted genocide against Armenians, killing 1.5 million beginning in 1915. European Union applicant Turkey has promised to expand political freedoms, such as free speech, and improve minority rights to meet the bloc's human rights criteria for membership. Turkey changed Article 301 last year in response to EU criticism and the law requires the Justice Minister to approve any court case, but conviction still carries a jail sentence.

The group of writers, academics and other intellectuals set up a petition at www.ozurdiliyoruz.com (We Are Sorry) that offered Armenians a personal apology and called for the Turkish government to acknowledge the killings. The statement stopped short of referring to the killings as genocide, a term strongly opposed in Ankara, but the army and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan slammed those involved.

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said last month that the online petition could undermine efforts to improve relations with neighboring Armenia, with which Turkey has no diplomatic ties. The two sides launched talks last year on normalizing relations.

Turkey in the past has prosecuted academics and authors, including Nobel Prize-winning writer Orhan Pamuk, for remarks criticizing the official stance on the Armenian issue.


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Turkey Drops Probe Into Armenian Apology Campaign

AFP

A Turkish prosecutor has dropped a probe into a campaign to apologize for the Ottoman mass killings of Armenians, citing laws protecting freedom of speech, the Anatolia news agency reported Monday.

The prosecutor decided there was no ground to bring charges over the petition because "in democratic societies opponent opinions are protected within the scope of freedom of expression," Anatolia said.

The probe was launched earlier this month after several Ankara residents filed a complaint asking for the organizers and signatories of an Internet petition apologizing for the deaths to be punished for "openly denigrating the Turkish nation", an offence that carries two years in prison.

The petition, posted online on December 15, states that the signatory "does not accept... the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915." It ends with an offer of apologies.

The text, which refrains from using the term "genocide" to describe the massacres, has been signed by more than 28,000 people, among them intellectuals and artists.


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See also

External links

http://www.ozurdiliyoruz.com




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