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Response of the Zoryan Insitute to Radikal

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  • Response of the Zoryan Insitute to Radikal

    Response to Article in Radikal Newspaper about the Zoryan Institute
    George Shirinian, Director, Zoryan Institute
    December 29, 2006

    The Turkish version of the article shown below appeared in the December 26, 2006 issue of Radikal newspaper in Turkey. We are pleased to see the public discourse about the Armenian Genocide issue continue in Turkey. There are a number of clarifications that need to be made, however.

    The article incorrectly states that Zoryan sponsored and financed the publication of the book. In fact, Metropolitan Books of New York, a division of Henry Holt Publishers, financed the English edition. This is a substantially revised version of Akçam?s book, which was originally published in Ankara in 1999 under the title Insan Haklari ve Ermeni Sorunu. This book was itself a substantially revised and expanded version of his doctoral thesis (1995). The author, in his ?Acknowledgments,? thanks the Zoryan Institute simply for assisting with the English translation and revision. The article does correctly report, however, that the Institute is interested in translating A Shameful Act into other languages.

    The article incorrectly states that The New York Times ?promoted the book with a praiseworthy book review by Belinda Cooper.? In fact, the review in the December 17, 2006 issue of the New York Times Book Review was by distinguished author Gary Bass.

    The article also incorrectly states that ?the book only reflects the Armenian position and defends the Armenian Genocide, mainly based on the memoirs of some eyewitnesses.? This is a major error. Actually, according to the author on page 5 of the Preface, ??what remains in the Ottoman archives and in court records is sufficient to show that the CUP Central Committee, and the Special Organization it set up to carry out its plan, did deliberately attempt to destroy the Armenian population.? Moreover, the author adds on page 6, ?The evidence in the Ottoman Archives is augmented by the documents found in Germany and Austria, which gives ample confirmation that we are looking at a centrally planned operation of annihilation. These records are particularly significant because Germany and Austria were military and political allies of the Ottoman Empire.? The author also argues on page 8, ?The CUP, also known as Unionists or Young Turks, took this decision ultimately because they saw it as the only means to guarantee the territorial integrity of the empire and the elimination of the related and long-standing Armenian question once and for all.? It is disappointing that a respected newspaper like Radikal publishes an article without even bothering to check the first few pages of the book to verify what the person interviewed had said, and if it had any basis in fact.

    It is instructive that the Zoryan Institute, a ?propaganda centre? as claimed in the article, commenced its first colloquium in 1982 by asking a simple question, ?Was what happened in 1915 genocide.? If Zoryan and its scholars, some of whom are Armenian and descendants of survivors of the Genocide, with all their trauma and pain can approach this issue with such detachment, then one wonders why the Turkish military-bureaucratic elite, the media and the Government can not also approach this issue with a simple question similar to that raised by the author on page 4 of his Preface: ?Is there evidence of intent and central planning on the part of the Ottoman authorities for a total or partial destruction of the Armenian people??

    There are strong voices that want to reclaim history as a legacy that needs to be recognized and are pressing the government to abolish all obstacles to this process. We at the Zoryan Institute do indeed see a ?big opportunity? at this particular juncture, to help provide information for this debate within Turkey.

    As Greg Sarkissian, President of the Zoryan Institute said in his speech at the Diaspora Conference in Armenia in September 2006, ?history is a stumbling block for peace and stability in the region. True peace can be achieved only if the nations in the region can talk to each other openly about their past. Therefore, we see education through the Common Body of Knowledge??such as provided by A Shameful Act, if read with an open mind??as one of the best ways to alleviate the tension between Turks and Armenians, because it provides a basis of shared knowledge that can counter generations of hostility and lead to mutual understanding and dialogue.?

    We wish that books like A Shameful Act will be a ?big opportunity,? not only for the Zoryan Institute, but also for the Turkish and Armenian people, because, as Greg Sarkissian said, ?restoring accurate historical memory will benefit not only Turkish, but also Armenian society. Both will be emancipated from the straightjacket of the past. Such a Common Body of Knowledge will lead to an understanding of each other, act as a catalyst for dialogue, and serve as a precursor to the normalization of relations between our two societies.?

    It is worth noting that in the book?s dedication, Taner Akçam states, ?I would like to dedicate this book to the memory of Haji Halil, a devout Muslim Turk, who saved the members of an Armenian family from deportation and death by keeping them safely hidden for over half a year, risking his own life. His courageous act continues to point the way toward a different relationship between Turks and Armenians.?

    Original Article that triggered the response:

    Big Opportunity for Zoryan Institute
    Radikal, December 26, 2006

    The Zoryan Institute, known as the most powerful propaganda centre of the Armenians, is getting prepared to translate into Armenian and Hebrew the book written by Taner Akçam, which accuses Turks of committing the Armenian genocide. Orhan Pamuk, who was awarded the Nobel Prize after stating that ?One million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in this country,? provides praise and support for this book.

    The Zoryan Institute, which is active in North America and is known as the most powerful propaganda centre of the Diaspora Armenians, is getting prepared to translate into Armenian and Hebrew the book written by Taner Akçam, which accuses the Turks of committing the Armenian genocide. Orhan Pamuk, who was awarded the Nobel Prize after stating that ?One million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in this country,? provides praise and support for the book. George Shirinian, director of the Zoryan Institute which also sponsored and financed the publication of the book, stated that ?The book will be translated into Hebrew and Armenian very soon.?

    Pamuk Praises the Book
    The book, which reflects Taner Akçam's viewpoint on the Armenian Genocide, has its subject as 'The Secret That Cannot Be Hidden: The Armenian Genocide and the Problem of Turkish Responsibility'. In the introduction, Orhan Pamuk states that ?The book 'The Secret That Cannot Be Hidden,' is an indisputable proof of the wiping out of the Ottoman Armenians, written by a very worthy Turkish scientist who has dedicated his life to the research of these events.?

    Hebrew and Armenian
    According to the website of the Zoryan Institute, it is planned to have a very effective promotion of Taner Akçam's book which holds Turkey responsible for the alleged Armenian Genocide. Researcher-author Cezmi Yurtsever informs that in addition to the support of the Zoryan Institute, the newspaper New York Times also promoted the book with a praiseworthy book review by Belinda Cooper. Yurtsever further states that George Shirinian, on behalf of Zoryan Institute, revealed that the book will be translated into Hebrew and Armenian in short order.

    Direct Connection
    Researcher-author Cezmi Yurtsever states that ?There is a direct connection between Orhan Pamuk's pro-Armenian opinions and the awarding of Nobel Literature Prize.? Previously, Orhan Pamuk had been severely criticized in Turkey for making the statement ?One million Armenians and 30000 Kurds were killed in this country.? Similarly, his praise for Taner Akçam's book can also be viewed as a personal or political objective, since the book only reflects the Armenian position and defends the Armenian Genocide, mainly based on the memoirs of some eyewitnesses.

    As the Nobel prize-winner Orhan Pamuk keeps making statements such as ?Author of Turkey and the Turkish Language,? researcher-author Yurtsever poses the following question to Pamuk: ?Would you carry out the duty and responsibility to reveal to the public the reasons why you support a book reflecting the personal opinions of Taner Akçam accusing Turkey of committing genocide of the Armenians, a viewpoint defended by the Armenian Diaspora??
    General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”