Monday 8 December 2008
Academics and writers in Turkey have risked a fierce official backlash by issuing a public apology for the alleged genocide suffered by Armenians at the hands of Ottoman forces during the First World War.
Breaking one of Turkish society’s biggest taboos, the apology comes in an open letter that invites Turks to sign an online petition supporting its sentiments.
It reads: «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 empathise with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I apologise to them.»
The contents expose its authors — three scholars, Ahmet Insel, Baskin Oran and Cengiz Aktar, and a journalist, Ali Bayramoglu — to the wrath of the Turkish state, which has prosecuted writers, including the Nobel prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, for supporting Armenian genocide claims.
Turkey rejects the assertion of many historians and Armenia’s government that up to 1.5 million Armenians died in a wave of expulsions that amounted to state-sanctioned genocide.