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On Bruises, Beauties, and Makeup

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  • On Bruises, Beauties, and Makeup

    "Aztag" Daily Newspaper
    P.O. Box 80860, Bourj Hammoud,
    Beirut, Lebanon
    Fax: +961 1 258529
    Phone: +961 1 260115, +961 1 241274
    Email: [email protected]

    On Bruises, Beauties, and Makeup: An Interview with Elif Shafak
    By Khatchig Mouradian

    Says Elif Shafak in this interview, "'The bruises and the make-up'
    is a metaphor I use in order to better depict Turkish modernists'
    obsession with 'our image in the eyes of the Western world.' The
    elite likes to prove to the Westerners how Westernized, modernized
    we Turks are. Yet when it comes to critically reading the past,
    the same elite is indifferent, if not ignorant."

    It is this indifference and ignorance that Shafak, whom "The Economist"
    considers to be "well set to challenge Mr. (Orhan) Pamuk as Turkey's
    foremost contemporary novelist," tries to confront. She does not
    believe in deceitful "outward appearances" and suggests that Turkey
    wash away the makeup "to see both the beauties and the bruises

    Elif Shafak was born in Strasbourg, France in 1971. After spending her
    teenage years in Spain, she returned to Turkey. She graduated with
    a degree in International Relations from the Middle East Technical
    University in Ankara. She earned her PhD in 2004 from the Department
    of Political Science of the same University. She has taught at Bilgi
    University, Istanbul and at the University of Michigan. Currently,
    she is an Assistant Professor in the Near Eastern Studies Department
    at the University of Arizona.

    She has published five novels: "Pinhan" (1997), "Sehrin Aynalari"
    (1999), "Mahrem" (2000), "Bit Palas" (2002), and "The Saint of
    Incipient Insanities" (2004), her first novel in English.

    Although some people in Turkey consider those who attempt to wash the
    Turkish Republic's makeup "backstabbers", it is intellectuals like
    Elif Shafak who will usher the country to confront its past and face
    the future.

    Khatchig Mouradian - Heraxxxxus says, "Nothing endures but change". As
    a person with "incessant itineraries" who sees life "as a perpetual
    journey where there is neither a final destination, nor the desire
    to find one", and as a writer whose heroes are often prone to
    metamorphosis, how do you explain your commitment to change?

    Elif Shafak - At birth we are all born into a certain identity -be
    it in terms of religion, nationality, gender, etc. Our name is given
    to us, and so is our habitat, and sometimes even our worldview. The
    question is the following: living the life we are to live, are we
    going to die in the same bay, in the same identity? My answer to
    this question is negative. I am intrigued by metamorphosis. I am not
    a settler. If anything, I guess I am a nomad. This kind of nomadism
    was not my choice at the beginning, but then it became something I
    deliberately, consciously chose.

    I was born in France, raised by a single mother, I saw two utterly
    different grandmothers with two utterly different understandings of
    Islam, traveled back and forth between different cities and countries,
    each time the setting changed profoundly, the ground beneath my feet
    was always subject to change and life a series of sudden ruptures... I
    spent my childhood in Spain, and traveled back and forth between
    Amman-Jordan, Cologne-Germany, Ankara, and then Istanbul... Then
    Boston, Michigan, Arizona... I now live in two places at the same time:
    Arizona on the one hand and Istanbul on the other hand. The only
    continuity that existed in my life, the only luggage that came with
    me everywhere I went was my writing, was fiction.

    Transformation and transcendence are at the heart of my fiction.

    I think fiction and Sufi thought share something deep in common. For
    both of them transformation and transcendence play a pivotal
    role. Fiction, for me, is not the ability to tell your own story
    to others, but the ability to make others' stories yours and your
    story others'.

    I have roots but I am not rooted. According to the Islamic narrative,
    there lives a tree in the skies above. Its name is Tuba. This tree
    is turned upside down and thus has its roots up in the air. Sometimes
    I think my fiction is a continuous quest for the Tuba tree.

    K.M. - Unlike the roots of the Tuba tree in heaven, our earthly
    roots can be struck by shame and pain, which is why we, human beings,
    might want to keep them under the soil. We might take pride in our
    roots but we rarely reveal them entirely. Can fiction bear fruits of
    transformation, transcendence, and, yes, tuba (beatitude)? Does it
    make readers less rooted, less uprooted, and more open to their own
    stories and the stories of others?

    E.S. - The clash between representing a particular identity and
    questioning the very essence of identity politics is one that intrigues
    me deeply. I am a bit torn in between because I am a nomad but I am
    a political nomad.

    Then there is another dilemma: those who seek to be pastless,
    memory-free, in other words the future-oriented and then those for
    whom the past determines the basic parameters, in other words the
    past-oriented. I do not believe this is an easy dilemma that can be
    overcome by solely reasoning. Today's international politics does
    not like ambiguity. Politics does not like ambivalence.

    Yet the universe of art, the world of fiction necessitates ambiguities,
    flexibilities. It has to be fluid. Only then, fiction can bear the
    fruits of transformation and transcendence. You need to be uprooted in
    order to feel empathy, if not a rapport, with others' stories, at least
    until the book is over you need to step outside your zone of existence.

    In the USA, for instance, there is a tendency to attribute a function
    to fiction, as if every book has to have a function. Likewise, if you
    happen to be "Middle Eastern woman writer" then you are expected to
    be writing on "women in the Middle East". Your identity walks ahead
    of the quality of your fiction, which I find very troublesome. In
    fact, I find this all-encompassing expectation highly detrimental for
    fiction. Fiction for me is not telling my own story but the ability
    not to be myself.

    At the same time, I should say I am not propagating a fiction devoid
    of political considerations. To the opposite, the relation between
    aesthetics and politics is of deep interest to me.

    "Politics and aesthetics" is not an easy marriage but as a Turkish
    novelist, I do not believe I have the luxury to be apolitical in
    this world. Therefore, fluidity or flexibility does not mean being
    apolitical; to the opposite it entails a political choice and the
    proclivity for empathy.

    K.M.- In one of your opinion articles, you say: "While it might be true
    that many Westerners have to take a closer look at Turkey's remarkable
    achievements and unusual history in searching for an answer to the
    vital question of how compatible Islam is with Western democracy,
    many Turks, in return, have to start washing the make-up on their
    face and start admitting the bruises left in their history". Can you
    speak about those bruises?

    E.S.-"The bruises and the make-up" is a metaphor I use in order to
    better depict Turkish modernists' obsession with "our image in the
    eyes of the Western world." The elite likes to prove the Westerners how
    Westernized, modernized we Turks are. Yet when it comes to critically
    reading the past, the same elite is indifferent, if not ignorant.

    Turkey's modernization went hand in hand with the transformation
    from a multiethnic, multilingual, multifaith empire to a supposedly
    homogeneous Turkish nation-state. This process is replete with traumas,
    losses, and painful memories many of which have been somehow erased
    from our collective memory.

    Our family lines, if you trace it back to centuries, might be most
    probably multiethnic but ethnicity is a source of suspicion if you
    choose to talk about it in the public arena. You can be whoever you
    are in the privacy of your house, but in the public domain, you should
    just be a Turk. This distinction between private sphere and public
    sphere is of great interest to me.

    In the past, this society was ethnically so heterogeneous but right
    after 1923 we have gotten used to acting and thinking as if we were now
    a homogenous whole. The interesting thing about Turkish nationalism
    is that it relies very much on words, rather than on blood or genes
    or race, as some other types of nationalism do in other countries.

    For Turkish nationalism, you can be a Kurd, an Armenian, a
    Serbian... all the same, as long as you utter the words: How happy is
    the one who calls himself a Turk! This is a very interesting feature
    of Turkish national identity. What you say, what you do, in other
    words always the outer appearance is essential.

    It is this concern with the "outward appearance" that I find quite
    troublesome. Instead, I suggest washing this make-up off to see both
    the beauties and the bruises underneath, both the beauties and the
    atrocities of the past. There are stains and scars left from the
    transition from a multiethnic empire to a supposedly monolithic
    nation-state. The loss of the cosmopolitan heritage and multiethnic
    structure is a cultural, social, economic, political and a big moral
    loss for Turkey and for the next generations growing up without the
    knowledge of this loss.

    K.M.-Is it to regain part of the knowledge of this loss that you are
    "planning a project on "Women's Oral Histories vis-a-vis Collective
    Amnesia: The Narratives of Armenian & Turkish & Greek Grandmothers"?
    Why do citizens of the Turkish Republic in the 21st century "need
    to listen to the suppressed memories of the Turkish grandmother"
    regarding "the atrocities...Turks have committed against Armenians"
    a century ago in the Ottoman Empire, for example?

    E.S.-The whole debate on the Turkish-Armenian past is deeply
    politicized and polarized today. It is also obsessed with written
    documents and archives. However, I think oral culture is just as much
    valuable. As a storyteller, it is those stories that I am primarily
    interested in. The stories old women in Turkey still remember. In
    many families today there are old women who remember the atrocities
    committed against the Armenians in the past, I think it is especially
    valuable to bring out that accumulation of knowledge. This is another
    source of knowledge.

    It is not only the atrocities of the past but also the beauties of
    the past that we can discover in this vein because many of these old
    women had Armenian neighbors, friends; they have memories. The Armenian
    Question is the battle of memory against amnesia and I believe we need
    the memories of the grandmothers more than anything, because they are
    not as politicized or polarized as historians or politicians are today.

    K.M.- In reference to the cancellation of a conference in Istanbul
    challenging the state's thesis on the "Armenian issue", you say in
    an article entitled "So, Did I Stab the Nation in the Back?", "If our
    perceptive politicians had not intervened at the last minute, I would
    have failed to stop myself from uttering very damaging statements."
    Your presentation was going to be on the Armenian writer Zabel Yeseyan.
    Would you now give a summary of this "very damaging" and "backstabbing"
    paper you were going to present?

    E.S. - My presentation at the Conference in Istanbul was going to be on
    Zabel Yeseyan. I am fascinated by her life and work, and I think it is
    a pity that today Turkish intellectuals do not know anything about her.
    Likewise, we know almost nothing about the Armenian intellectuals of
    the late Ottoman era.

    More significantly perhaps is the question: why was the Turkish
    governmental elite so much disturbed by the writing of the Armenian
    intellectuals? Why did they want to suppress their voices? Why were
    poets, novelists, journalists deemed to be dangerous? How and why
    was writing thought to be dangerous? These are the questions I was
    planning to raise at the conference.

    Today in Turkey not many people know that before the deportation
    begun, a list of around 240 Armenian intellectuals was concocted
    by the government; a list of dangerous minds! Dangerous pens! Among
    them were many artists and writers. It was this list that the state
    wanted to suppress and silence. Zabel Yeseyan seems to be the only
    woman in the list.

    It is an old tactic of power and dominion. If you want to control and
    constrain a minority population, you first and foremost control and
    constrain its brainpower, its intellectuals, its thinking minds. The
    Ottoman elite seems to have taken this step.

    If we can understand the list of Armenian intellectuals of 1915,
    I hope, we Turkish intellectuals of 2005 can better understand,
    recognize and mourn the injustice done against the Armenian minority,
    and the power dynamics behind this historical process.
    "All truth passes through three stages:
    First, it is ridiculed;
    Second, it is violently opposed; and
    Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

    Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

  • #2
    Sons of the conquerors: The rise of the Turkic world
    From: "Katia M. Peltekian" <[email protected]>
    Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 08:25:32 +0500 (AMST)


    Asharq Alawsat (The Middle East), UK
    July 20 2005

    SONS OF THE CONQUERORS: The Rise Of The Turkic World
    Asharq Al-Awsat Book Review
    By Amir Taheri

    With the increasingly globalised international system heading towards
    what looks like the elimination of nation-states are we heading for
    a new world which resembles the primeval soup in which nations could
    not be told apart?

    This is the question behind Hugh Pope's new book which is about the
    identity debate in almost a dozen countries where what he describes
    as "the Turkic people" form either a majority or a substantial
    minority. His answer is that globalisation, while effacing political
    and administrative frontiers among nations may paradoxically encourage
    a sense of cultural identification. And this, he further argues,
    is especially the case among the Turkic peoples.

    But let us start by finding out what makes a people "Turkic".

    The key element in that identity is not race or ethnicity. Ataturk's
    attempts at inventing a racial origin for his people led him into a
    number of absurd, if not comical, conclusions. At one point he traced
    the origins of the Turkish people to Finland rather than Central
    Asia and Siberia. The book "White Lilies", which promoted that idea,
    became compulsory reading at Turkish government schools. The idea was
    that Turks were Europeans and thus progressive and modern rather than
    Asian and "backward".

    Nevertheless, a majority of people who now live within the borders of
    the Turkish Republic and speak Turkish as their mother tongue are,
    as far as race is concerned, the descendants of the Greek and other
    Hellenised communities of Asia Minor who have been Turkicised during
    the past 10 centuries or so. What makes them Turkic, therefore,
    is not blood but culture and sentiment. They feel they are Turks,
    and so they are.

    Not everyone who speaks a version of the half a dozen or so Turkic
    languages may describe himself as Turkic. But most do.

    Pope estimates the number of Turkic-speakers at over 140 million,
    almost half of them in the Turkey itself. Turkic-speakers are also
    a majority in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and
    Azerbaijan which have a combined population of 50 million.

    Turkic-speaking Azeris number around 15 million in Iran while the
    Uyghurs, another Turkic people who live in Xinjiang, or the Chinese
    Turkistan, number some 12 million. There are also Turkic minorities
    in Russia (including the Tatars, the Bashkirs, the Charkess-Qarachai,
    and the Kabardino-Balkars) who account for some 20 million people.

    Smaller Turkic minorities live in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Armenia,
    Syria, Iraq, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia.

    The idea of pan-Turkism, based on the dream of creating a single
    state to unite all the Turkic-speakers from Central Asia to the
    Mediterranean, reached its peak in the first two decades of the
    last century. One of its greatest champions, a certain Anwar Pasha,
    even tried to carve himself a mini-empire in Central Asia after the
    Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

    It was pan-Turkism that inspired other nationalistic movements in
    the region starting with pan-Iranism in the 1930s and pa-Arabism in
    the 1960s.

    The pan-Iranists preached the unification of Iran, Afghanistan,
    Tajikistan, and the Soviet Caucasus, plus the Bahrain archipelago in
    the Persian Gulf, in the name not of language but of Iranian blood
    and culture. The pan-Arabists dreamed of a single state spanning the
    vast region between the Arabian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean in the
    name of the Arabic language.

    Pan-Iranism died in the 1960s when the Shah finalised Iran's borders
    with the Soviet Union and gave up the old Iranian claim on Bahrain.

    Pan-Arabism died with the demise of Gamal Abdul Nasser's dictatorship
    after Egypt's 1967 defeat by Israel.

    Pan-Turkism, however, has managed, with many ups and downs, to survive
    and still constitutes a good part of the political discourse in Turkey
    where even Islamist and liberal ideological rivals pay lip service
    to it.

    In the 1990s Pan-Turkism received an unexpected boost from the fall
    of the Soviet Empire. Turkey's President Turgot Ozal was especially
    keen to fill in the void that was taking shape in Central Asia and
    the Caucasus. A pragmatist, Ozal knew that sentimental issues, while
    important, could not sustain a serious policy in the region.

    Accordingly, he mobilised whatever economic, trade and military
    resources that Turkey could put together for the purpose, and
    organised an "invasion" of the region by businessmen, engineers,
    and military advisors.

    In both Central Asia and the Caucasus, Ozal had to compete against
    Russia, which still hoped to retain a dominant position, and Iran,
    which was entering the scene with more money and an Islamist
    discourse. But Ozal's strategy ultimately failed not because of
    Russian or Iranian competition. The clincher in its defeat was the
    massive arrival of the Americans. Once the US was present with a
    high profile the newly independent republics preferred to deal with
    it rather than it junior local ally Turkey.

    As Hugh Pope shows in his excellent study, the dollar proved stronger
    than emotional assertions about a common ancestry and a shared
    culture. In many cases the Turkish businessmen that Ozal had despatched
    to Central Asia ended up as middlemen for American corporations seeking
    a share of the regional market. Pope introduces one such businessman,
    identified only as Murad, who has made his fortune importing frozen
    chicken into landlocked Turkmenistan via Iran.

    Pope, a British journalist and a fluent Turkish-speaker who has
    lived in Turkey for decades, knows the Turkic world like the back of
    his hand. His book is, for a good part, a travelogue, narrating his
    numerous ventures in the Turkic lands over the past 15 years.

    But is language enough for shaping an identity?

    Pope should have but does not pose the question. If language were
    enough as the basis of a common identity, the people of Bangladesh
    would not have separated themselves from their fellow Bengali speakers
    in Indian West Bengal.

    It is also interesting to note that the world's second largest
    English-speaking nation, after the United States, is the Philippines
    not the United Kingdom.

    Pope cites several collective features, or identifiers, of which
    language is the most important. But the Turkic people he describes have
    other common features, including their belief in a common ancestry-
    they all regard Chengiz Khan as their distant ancestor.

    Another common feature is what Pope describes as "the military
    vocation" of the Turkic peoples.

    This is borne out by history which shows how various Turkic peoples
    appeared on the scene as mercenaries for local Persian, Arab and
    Byzantine principalities and ended up by absorbing, and in some cases,
    Turkicising them.

    In some cases, especially in North Africa and Egypt, however, the
    Turks were gradually absorbed and Arabised and are today identified
    only thanks to their Turkish-sounding family names.

    Pope asserts that the Turkic peoples have a certain fascination for
    the military which has turned the army, especially in Turkey itself,
    into the custodian of the highest national interests. He also says
    that the Turkic peoples always look to a "strongman" to lead them, and
    thus have developed a penchant for authoritarian rule. Because of that,
    Pope argues, prospects for democratisation in the Turkic world remain
    dim. One could safely ignore such questionable generalisations. There
    is, in fact, no evidence that Turkic-speaking peoples would reject
    the chance to live in a democracy where their human rights are
    respected. The book, which will be on sale next month, was written
    before the pro-democracy uprising that ended the regime of President
    Askar Aqaev in Kyrgyzstan and before the current pro-reform revolt
    in neighbouring Uzbekistan.)

    Pope also acknowledges Islam as one of the key features of the Turkic
    identity. With the exception of Azerbaijan, where 98 per cent of the
    Turkic-Azeri speakers are Shiites, almost all other Turkic peoples
    are Sunni Muslims with a strong Sufi tradition. In fact, one of
    the weaknesses of Pope's otherwise valuable book is his failure to
    describe the role of the various Sufi fraternities, especially in
    Central Asia and the Caucasus.

    Pope shows that despite the revival of Islam in former Soviet republics
    all the new regimes are prepared to work with the Western powers,
    especially by allowing access to the oil resources of the Caspian
    Basin. Moreover, the United States now maintains military bases in
    several of the Turkic states in addition to its massive presence in
    Turkey itself through the NATO alliance. The pragmatist policy of
    the ruling elites means that the Turkic states are performing better
    than their Iranian, Slav and Arab neighbours in a number of domains,
    especially economic development and the spread of education.

    For this reviewer the most interesting part of Pope's fairly long
    book is the narrative of his travels in Xinjiang (East Turkestan), a
    vast land controlled by China and largely closed to the outside world.

    Pope estimates the number of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang at eight
    million, which is the official Chinese claim. But most Western
    specialists put the number at around 12 million. For the past five
    decades Beijing has pursued a policy of Sinification in Xinjiang by
    bringing in large numbers of Han Chinese so as to turn the native
    Muslims into a minority in their own land. Pope says that the Muslims
    now account for only half of the population in Xinjiang.

    Pope shows that the Han settlers are given the most lucrative jobs in
    Xinjiang while the native Muslims are assigned to low-paid positions
    and rigorously kept out of "sensitive" fields such as the military and
    he police. Until the 11 September 2001 attacks against New York and
    Washington, the US, along with several oil-rich Arab states, had given
    moral and financial support to Uighur opposition parties. Since then,
    however, most of that support has stopped as the US has drawn closer
    to China and Russia in the name of a joint campaign against Islamist
    terrorism. As for the oil-rich states, they have recognised China
    as their biggest future market and, perhaps, even biggest protector,
    if and when the US loses interest in the region. This has persuaded
    the oil-rich states that backing the Uighurs is not worth the loss
    of Chinese goodwill.

    Pope writes: " Islam is channelling the Uighurs' political
    frustration. A longing for international strength and legitimacy is
    the Main factor behind the Uighur embrace of Islam. It gives them
    a perhaps misleading sense of equality in numbers, since there are
    nearly as many Muslims in the world as Chinese. Islam is also a safer
    kind of dissent. Despite [periodic crackdowns on religious practices,
    including what a Human Rights Watch report in April called a '
    highly intrusive religious control' Islam benefits from a minimum
    of toleration by the Chinese state. By contrast, Beijing bans every
    secular expression of a Uighur nationalist identity."

    Pope says that the death in 1995 of Isa Alptekin, the secularist Uighur
    independence movement leader, marked the start of a long process that
    had led to the domination of the Uighur national scene by Islamist
    preachers and militants.

    According to Pope some of the Islamist Uighur fighters joined the
    Taliban in Afghanistan where a few of them were captured by the
    Americans and taken to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

    Having attributed the growth of Islam among the Uighurs to purely
    political factors, Pope , nevertheless, goes on to contradict himself
    by showing that the Uighur attachment to Islam is not purely motivated
    by politics.

    He writes: " In most houses, people rigorously observe Islam's five
    daily prayers. In Uighur villages, mosques are usually the tallest
    and best built buildings for kilometres, their street fronts decked
    out in fancy tile work and a line of slender minarets. At one small
    bookshop in Kashgar's old town, there were just a few dusty volumes
    of Uighur history. The fastest moving bestsellers turned out to be
    the Quran and teach-yourself Arabic books."

    Pope further reports that many Uighur freedom fighters are expressing
    doubts about the wisdom of using an Islamist discourse in pursuit of
    political goals. This apparent change of heart has allowed Erkin,
    the late Alptekin's eldest son, to move centre stage to lead the
    independence movement towards a secular discourse based on culture
    and identity rather than religion.

    " I was telling them for years that while you might admire a suicide
    bomber, the rest of the world will see him as a terrorist," Erkin
    Alptekin told Pope. " Now they come and tell me: Erkin, you were

    No one knows where the Turkic world maybe heading. Turkey is trying
    to become part of the European Union while the Tatars and the Bashkir
    appear content to remain part of the Russian federation. The Central
    Asian republics may be entering a period of political instability that
    might ultimately lead to their democratisation. One thing is certain:
    the Turkic nations are to move up the news agenda and Pope's book
    offers much insight into their little known world.
    "All truth passes through three stages:
    First, it is ridiculed;
    Second, it is violently opposed; and
    Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

    Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


    • #3
      Media, Capital in Same Hands, No Freedom of Press.

      Media, Capital in Same Hands, No Freedom of Press.
      By Anadolu News Agency (aa)
      Published: Tuesday July 26, 2005

      The President of Turkish Journalists Federation Nazmi Bilgin said that the media in Turkey was in the same hands as the capital, banking, energy, oil sectors and political world and added: "as long as we do not break these chains of relations we cannot talk about freedom of the press."

      Nazmi Bilgin gave a statement on the occasion of the 97th anniversary of the abolishment of censorship of the press and the 82nd anniversary of the Lozan Agreement. Observing that that remembering both these days is important Bilgin added: "Because the unity of freedom, democracy and independence is represented in both these two events, they are requirements of national unity and national responsibility." Bilgin noted that one cannot say that there is democracy and human rights in a country where there the press is not objective and independent. He further said "media in Turkey is in the hands of the owners of capital, banking sector, energy and oil magnates and most importantly with politicians. As long as this chain of relations is not broken we cannot talk about freedom of press. Turkey should definitely overcome this problem immediately."
      "All truth passes through three stages:
      First, it is ridiculed;
      Second, it is violently opposed; and
      Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

      Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


      • #4
        Armenia To Be Invited To Participate In Peace And Beauty Festival In

        PanArmenian News Network
        July 29 2005


        29.07.2005 06:29

        /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Handi Sedefti, the Mayor of the Turkish town of
        Edirne stated that he is going to invite an Armenian delegation for
        the participation in the International Festival of Peace and Beauty
        to be held in Turkey September 18. On this day representatives of 20
        countries will address the whole world with the message of peace and
        beauty from the place where the borders of Turkey, Greece and
        Bulgaria meet. Delegations from Turkey, northern Cyprus, Bulgaria,
        Armenia, Russia, UK, Poland, Georgia, Bulgaria, Germany, France,
        Romania, Hungary, Singapore, China, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Albania,
        Bosnia and Herzegovina will take part in the festival.
        "All truth passes through three stages:
        First, it is ridiculed;
        Second, it is violently opposed; and
        Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

        Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


        • #5
          Congressman Tancredo Avenged By The Turkish Government


          Several weeks ago Colorado Congressman Tancredo stated that America could bomb Muslim Holy sites if there was a need. The Congressman's unbalanced statements were exploited by the Turkish government to avenge him.

          First of all, I strongly disagree with Mr. Tancredo's statements, because sacrilege is not a solution for any kind of a problem. The bombing of Mecca would not only give birth to a sinister and indescribable war, but it would also be an attack on the world civilization.

          The Congressman's unbelievable comments, nevertheless, are not as absurd as the condemns expressed by the Turkish officials. The Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul called the Colorado congressman fanatical person ignoring the fact that his own Turkish government denies the Armenian Genocide (the systematic massacre of the oldest Christian people in its motherland between 1915-1923); that his own Turkish government is responsible for bombings and desecrations of more than 2000 Christian Armenian churches and cathedrals, some as old as 1700 years; that his own Turkish government occupies northern part of Cyprus; that his own Turkish government beheaded 30,000 Kurds in the last two decades and that his own Turkish government is a violator of basic human rights.

          There are two apparent reasons why the Turkish government suddenly emerged into this issue as an accuser. First of all, Turkey truly dreams of joining the European Union, thus this engagement would speak of Turkey's democratic standards (at least the Foreign Minister thinks so). Second, Turkey wants to use this opportunity to punish Tancredo and turn him to its side. Congressman Tancredo lately voted in favor of Armenian Genocide's recognition by the US House of Representatives, thus the Colorado Representative is on the black list of Turkey. As the Associated Press reported on 19 July 2005, Tancredo talked with the Turkish ambassador Tuesday afternoon during a long-scheduled meeting about a House bill on the Turkish-Armenian conflict. Turkey simply aims to exploit Congressman Tancredo's situation to get him off the black list. Otherwise, why would the Armenian conflict emerge during these negotiations? Is this the way Turkey condemns offensive speeches?

          By exploiting the Congressman's comments, Turkey wants to kill two birds with one stone: to praise itself as a democratic country and to avenge Mr. Tancredo for recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

          As a resident of Littleton who was paid tribute by Congressman Tancredo in the House of the Representatives last year, and as an Armenian whose family survived the Armenian Genocide, I find Mr. Tancredo's comments shocking and offensive. At the same time, Turkey's sudden statements in this situation are sinister and ridiculous.

          The sick man of Europe should solve its problems first.

          By Simon Maghakyan in Littleton, Colorado
          "All truth passes through three stages:
          First, it is ridiculed;
          Second, it is violently opposed; and
          Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

          Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


          • #6
            This last article was fantastic, glad you posted it Gavur. Thanks.
            [url][/url] - [COLOR="Red"]Armenian[/COLOR] [COLOR="Blue"]Genealogy[/COLOR] [COLOR="Orange"]Forum[/COLOR]


            • #7
              Turkish ’friendly resolution’ offer

              Turkish ’friendly resolution’ offer on Anter murder case rejected

              29/07/2005 Ozgur Politika
              Ankara - Friendly resolution is now on the agenda for the murder of the famous Kurdish intellectual Musa Anter, who was assassinated in 1992 by the counter-guerrillas and which was regarded as an unknown-killing by the government to cover up the murder. Turkey is now trying to wrap up the case which is at the European Court of Human Rights by paying 15,000 Euros on the basis of friendly resolution. Anter’s family has rejected this offer.

              Musa Anter was invited to a Culture and Arts Festival in Diyarbakir. Just before the festival, on the 20 September, 1992, he was murdered. The case has been taken to the European Court of Human Rights and Turkey recently offered to resolve the case through friendly resolution. Turkey has offered 15,000 Euros to the Anter family. This offer has been rejected by Anter’s children.

              He was killed in 1992

              Musa Anter was killed in 1992 as a result of an armed assault in Diyarbakir. In the aftermath of the murder, Diyarbakir Republic Prosecutor instigated an investigation into the matter. The case was then called an unknown-murder and left on the shelves. Due to the investigation never being finalised, the Anter family took the matter to the European Court of Human Rights. The case is about to be finalised.

              ’We do not accept the friendly resolution offer’

              Dicle Anter said that they will not accept such an offer of resolution and continued: ‘The reason why we do not accept such a resolution is quite clear. Through a payment the crime can not be covered up. Those responsible should be punished. We can not accept the approach of covering up the murder through money. This is not only true for the case of my father but for all such cases. The confessions of Abdulkadir Aygan are very important but those responsible are still free.’

              Musa Anter’s son Anter Anter who lives in Sweden has also said that they shall not accept a friendly resolution and continued ‘Even if they offer 15 million euros we shall not accept it.’

              ’State Secret’

              Musa Anter who was known amongst the Kurds as Uncle Musa was killed on the 20 September 1992 in Diyarbakir as he was invited to attend Culture and Arts Festival there. The murder case of Anter could not be processed for 13 years. In the Susurluk Investigation report of Kutlu Savas, President of Prime Ministerial Inquiry Committee, it was accepted that the murder of Anter was committed by the state. The confessions regarding Musa Anter’s murder was in the 9th additional file of the report. However these additional files were not revealed on the grounds that they were ‘state secret’.

              Confessions of Aygan

              Abdulkadir Aygan, one of the founders of JITEM, revealed how Musa Anter was killed, 12 years after his murder in 2004. Aygan, whose confessions were submitted to the ECHR by the Anter family, had said that the murder of Musa Anter was organised at the JITEM by Yesil.
              "All truth passes through three stages:
              First, it is ridiculed;
              Second, it is violently opposed; and
              Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

              Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


              • #8
                Turkey admits its &quot;mistakes&quot; toward Kurds

                Turkey admits its "mistakes" toward Kurds

                By Amberin Zaman

                Los Angeles Times

                ANKARA, Turkey — The prime minister acknowledged yesterday that the Turkish government had mishandled its relations with the nation's minority Kurds, saying their long-running grievances need to be addressed through greater democracy, not repression.

                Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's admission, believed to be the first by a Turkish leader, came during a speech in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the troubled Kurdish southeast region and a hotbed of Kurdish nationalism.

                The crowds applauded wildly as Erdogan termed the Kurdish issue "my problem, our collective problem."

                "Mistakes have been made," he said. And to ignore past mistakes, he declared, was not "fitting behavior for great nations such as Turkey."

                Erdogan's speech won praise from the Kurdish community.

                "It constitutes the foundation for turning a new page in relations" between the government and Kurds, said Diyarbakir Mayor Osman Baydemir.

                "The significance of his words cannot be underestimated," said Sezgin Tanrikulu, chairman of Diyarbakir's influential bar association. "It's the first time any Turkish leader is admitting to wrongdoing on the part of the state."

                However, Tanrikulu noted, "He will need to match his words with deeds."

                For decades, Turkey's estimated 14 million Kurds were dismissed by successive governments as "mountain Turks." Their ancient tongue, which is distinct from Turkish, was officially banned until the early 1990s. Thousands of Kurdish activists, who demanded official recognition of their ethnic identity, were tortured and jailed. Kurdish insurgents in turn carried out a rebellion against the government.

                As Turkey seeks to join the European Union, it has begun to ease pressure on the Kurds. Since Erdogan came to power in 2002, his conservative Justice and Development Party has enacted a series of sweeping reforms, among them measures enabling the Kurds to broadcast and publish in their language and to teach it in privately run courses.

                The changes contributed to the decision of European Union leaders in December to open membership negotiations with Turkey, which are scheduled to begin Oct. 3.

                But analysts warn that renewed violence between security forces and the rebel group known as the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, could spark a nationalist backlash that would in turn weaken public support for reforms.

                Scores of Turkish soldiers have died in attacks that have been spreading across the Kurdish southeast region since the PKK called off a five-year unilateral truce in June 2004. In the latest incident, two soldiers were killed Thursday in Tunceli province.

                In an ominous sign, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, chief of the general staff, noted that the fight against the PKK would continue nonetheless.
                "All truth passes through three stages:
                First, it is ridiculed;
                Second, it is violently opposed; and
                Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

                Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


                • #9
                  Imam Of Kars Does Not Allow Armenian Tourists To Light Candles In Church Turned Into

                  KARS, AUGUST 15, NOYAN TAPAN - ARMENIANS TODAY. A number of Turkish
                  newspapers ("Hurriet", "Milliet" and some others) reported on August
                  15 that the imam of the city of Kars did not allow a group of tourists
                  from Armenia to light candles and hold a religious ceremony at the
                  Church of Twelve Apostles turned into a mosque. The Armenian Apostolic
                  Church was turned into a mosque in 1998 and called Qumpet Chamii. Imam
                  Mehmed Altun prohibited the Armenian tourists from lighting candles or
                  singing in the former church. According to the imam, such ceremonies
                  are not allowed in a mosque, the newapaper "Marmara" wrote. Later the
                  tourists intended to light candles in the garden of the former church,
                  but this time some locals intervened, preventing them from doing
                  so. The Armenian tourists had to interrupt their ceremony and leave.
                  "All truth passes through three stages:
                  First, it is ridiculed;
                  Second, it is violently opposed; and
                  Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

                  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


                  • #10
                    Armenians of Istanbul

                    Armenians of Istanbul
                    Istanbul Ermenileri
                    this page is dedicated to the Armenian-Turkish brotherhood.
                    last updated on 20 August 1997


                    Today, there are nearly 50.00 Armenians living in Istanbul. The population is distributed all over the city. The rights of the community is secured after the Lausanne treaty(1922). According to the international agreements, the three minorities in Istanbul(Greeks, Armenians and Jews) have right to worship, speek their mother tongues and educate their children at their own schools. According to the laws of the Turkish laws, there's no difference among each citizen living in Turkey. On paper, Republic of Turkey is a secular state.
                    The problems come out by the misapplication of the rules, or the application of the "de facto" rules. Especially, after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk died in 1938, the pressure over the minorities increased. From then on, the governments took many unfair decisions to assimilate or to reduce the non-muslim comunities. First of all, "Varlik Vergisi"(Prosperity Tax) was applied in 1942. According to the tax law, the citizens were divided into three parts: (a)Muslims (b)Non-Muslims (c)Donmeler(muslims, formerly Christian or Jew). Each fraction was made to pay different amount of taxes. Of course, the Non-Muslim fraction was forced to pay incredibly high amounts of money, while the muslims pay reasonable amounts. Those, who couldn't pay the money were captured in the working camps of the deserted Southeastern Parts of Turkey. Many fled away from Turkey. Nearly half of the non-muslim population of the country emigrated to other countries. These people made their destination countries richer with their hardworking and intelligence. Republic of Turkey lost many things after this emigration, but it was just the thing the "Inonu" government wanted:"to nationalize the capital" they began to succeed. Many Turkish bankers, businessmen, factory owners became very rich.

                    Following years, Menderes was elected to the government in the first multi-parties election. Menderes and his team was conservative and nationalist, some of them were even fundemental muslims. After the rule of Menderes, Republic of Turkey started to shift to the right wing and islamic world.

                    Menderes started a campaign against the non-muslim communities : "vatandas, Turkce konus!", which means "citizen, speak Turkish". This campaign led many conflict between nationalist Turks and the minority members. Slowly and slowly, by these kinds of campaigns, the Menderes government succeeded to establish hatred between Turks and other groups.

                    The most horrible event occured on 6th and 7th of September 1955. After a false news reporting that the house of Ataturk at Thessaloniki was bombed by Greeks, large crowds of people brainwashed by the campaigns of the government filled the streets. They were shouting with anger, blaming the non-muslims. They broke the shop windows, broke the cars, burnt down the houses, raped young girls, plundered and stole. Only the non-muslims were the targets. Noone harmed from the muslims, only those who wanted to protect their Christian or Jewish neighbour. After the events, the Istiklal Street was totally full of broken glass, reminding the Cyristal Night of Nazi Germany. Those, who took leading role in the events were taken to the court, but they are freed after ridicilous punishment. This was a proof that the events were guided by the Menderes government.

                    Istiklal Street after the events
                    The main aim were the Greeks. They were the ones most harmed by the events. Nearly two third of the Greeks emmigrated to Greece just after 1955. Also many Armenian shops were stoned, many houses were burned, many girls were raped. Also, after 1955, many Armenians were left without money, no home and no job. Thousands went to United States, Germany, Canada or even Australia. There were not as lucky as the Greeks, because they didn't have a country to be easily accepted.

                    The 70s passed with the terrorist activities of ASALA against Turkish ambassies. Every attack caused hatred in Turkey for the Armenian race. Also the press and the television helped to grow this hatred. During nearly 15 years, the Armenian community passed their one of the hardest times in Istanbul. They confronted insults and accusations. Armenians were isolated from social life. Many Turks regarded their old Armenian friends as potential terrorists. The reports, given regularily by the Armenian Patriarchate condemning all kinds of terrorist acts didn't make any difference. There were even Armenian Ministers in Turkish government once, but then no Armenians were accepted even for the simplest state jobs. The pressure to the Armenian schools, churches and press was increased. Thir accounts were frequently checked. Frequently, you could read a news about an Armenian blamed for helping ASALA. At those years, an Armenian youngman burnt himself at Taksim Square to protest the pressure on them.

                    Years passed, and little has changed. Nationalism in Turkey is growing fast, like all in the world. When the conflict at Nogorno Karabag started, the Turkish Goverment immidiately took side with the Azarbaijani Turks. Nearly %100 of Turkish people believes that Azarbaijani side is the one whose rights are taken off, and the Armenians are those who are attacking to innocent Azarbaijan. Noone knows what is exactly going on, and the reason for the fight, but they believe that Azerbaijanees are right. So once again, the Armenian community is under suspect. Many Armenians in Istanbul even do not know where Karabag is, but they are accused of giving aid to Armenia. I see many things written on the walls at Kurtulush, Shishli and other places where the Armenians live densely, many bad words against Armenian which I'm ashamed of writing here.

                    When something happens bad to the Turks living outside of Turkey, the government stresses the pressure to the ethnic minorities. For example, when there were severe Armenian attacks to Karabag, the government banned the Armenian Schools to give education in Armenian. It was a clear violation of International and Turkish Laws. They closed up some Armenian schools, churches and newspapers. The ban for Armenian Language was pulled back thanks to the international human right institutions and some Turkish intellectuals.

                    The conflict at Karabagh seems calmed down, but the prejudice for the Armenian community still goes on. The government and the media tries to put hatred between Turks and Armenians. Today there's nearly no Greek community living in Istanbul(only 3.000, maybe less). So, being the largest non-muslim community in Turkey, generally Armenians are regarded as targets for the nationalists. Each time when there's a crisis in Turkey, government puts forward a nationalist subject to discuss. Unfortunately, it works.

                    The media and the government succeeded to link the Kurdish problem to the Armenians. The head of PKK, Abdullah Ocalan was accused to be an Armenian so as to be hated by the Turks. There is a common belief that PKK is leaded by the Armenians.

                    Also, the growth of fundamentalism is another threat for the Armenians. When I was completing my postpone process at the military office in Istanbul, I saw a young man(Christian, most probabily Armenian) talking to four Turkish men. They realized that he is a Christian and they were trying to convert him to Islam. Fortunately, by talking. The thing is, that boy was not enjoying the situation.

                    Last year, there was a heavy discussion of a list, passed by fax machines. The list was composed of the non-muslim shops and businessmen. On the fax message transmitted by many unknown fax terminals, there were nearly a hundred shops owned by Armenians, Greeks and Jews and at the bottom of the page, there was a warning: "please do not get any contact with these shops, because they are not Muslim". This act was not approved by most of the Turkish citizens, and many people sended fax messages listing the fundamental islamic establishments that should be careful.

                    There were many problems, which I didn't mention or I can't remember. But some of the problems are common with the muslim Turks as human right violations. Both Armenians and Turks wait for a more democratic Turkey.
                    [email protected]
                    "All truth passes through three stages:
                    First, it is ridiculed;
                    Second, it is violently opposed; and
                    Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

                    Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)