The Danish Royal Library has attracted heavy criticism after agreeing to let Turkey co-arrange an alternative exhibition about the Armenian Genocide.
The library has complied with the wishes of the Turkish ambassador to Denmark to be involved with the exhibition, ‘The Armenian Genocide and the Scandinavian response’, which is currently on display at the University of Copenhagen.
This decision has caused widespread debate and 37 Turkish intellectuals, including Taner Akçam, Cengiz Aktar, Murat Belge, Baskin Oran and Ipek and Oral Çalislar, have in an open letter in Denmark’s leading daily Berlingske called on the library’s director to reconsider his decision. In their view, the Turkish government has followed a policy of denial for more than 90 years, culminating in the murder of Hrant Dink in 2007. To allow the Turkish government to arrange an alternative exhibition will only support this policy.
As Turkish intellectuals fighting for a democratic Turkey, the signatories conclude that Turkey, through its position of denying historical truths, represents an obstacle to the development of peace, democracy and stability in the Middle East.
Following is the text of the letter
Don’t Stand Before Turkey’s Democratization and Confrontation with its History!
The individuals whose signatures appear below have been distressed to learn that the Royal Library of Denmark has given the Turkish government the opportunity to present an “alternative exhibit” in response to the Armenian Genocide exhibition.
It is incorrect to suggest that two different views of what happened in 1915 are possible. Over one million Ottoman Armenian citizens were forced out of their homes and annihilated in furtherance of an intentional state policy. What exists today is nothing other than the blatant denial of this reality by the Turkish government.
An honest reckoning with history is the non-negotiable precondition of a true democracy. The Turkish government has been suppressing historic truths and following a policy of denial for more than 90 years. In response to the many intellectuals in the nation who have urged the government to confront history honestly, this systematic suppression and intimidation policy, which reached its zenith with the assassination of journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, continues unabated. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in several cases on this subject against Turkey’s position and actions.
By giving the Turkish government the opportunity to present an “alternative exhibit”, you support their policy of suppression and intimidation. The support that you are extending to a regime that has made opposition to confronting history and denial of the truth a fundamental principle is equivalent to supporting a regime of apartheid. We want to remind you that your support constitutes an obstacle to democratization efforts in Turkey today.
There is a regional aspect of this policy also. Peace, democracy and stability in the Middle East will only come about through regimes that are willing to confront history honestly. Through its position of denying historical truths, Turkey represents an obstacle to the development of peace, democracy and stability in the Middle East. We, Turkish intellectuals fighting for a democratic Turkey, urge you to reconsider your decision to grant the Turkish government the opportunity to present an “alternative exhibit” and withdraw the offer immediately and we invite you to join and support the democratic civil initiatives demanding that Turkey confront its history honestly.
Fikret Adanir (professor of history), Taner Akçam (professor of history), Ayhan Aktar (professor of sociology), Cengiz Aktar (professor of political science), Cengiz Algan (The DurDe civic initiative), Ahmet Altan (Chief Editor Taraf Newspaper), Maya Arakon (professor of political science), Oya Baydar (Writer), Yavuz Baydar (Columnist Todays Zaman Newspaper), Osman Baydemir (mayor of Diyarbakir), Murat Belge (professor of litterature), Halil Berktay (professor of history), Ismail Besikçi (professor of sociology), Hamit Bozaslan (professor of political science), Ipek Çalislar (Writer), Oral Çalislar (Columnist Radikal Newspaper), Aydin Engin (founding Editor T24 webnews), Fatma Müge Göçek (professor of sociology), Nilüfer Göle (professor of sociology), Istar Gözaydin (professor of law and politic), Gençay Gürsoy (professor of medicine) Ayse Hür (historian, columnist Radical newspaper), Ahmet Insel (professor of economics), Ayse Kadioglu (professor of political science), Gülten Kaya (music producer), Ümit Kivanç (writer), Ömer Laçiner (chief Editor Birikim Review), Roni Margulies (Poet), Baskin Oran (professor of political science), Cem Özdemir (Co-chair German Green Party), Esra Mungan (professor of psychology), Sirri Sakik (MP), Betül Tanbay (professor of mathematics), Zeynep Tanbay (choreographer), Turgut Tarhanli (professor of international law), Ufuk Uras (Former MP), Sanar Yurdatapan (Initiative for Freedom of Expression).