By Hambersom Aghbashian
Cengiz Algan (born 1967 in Adana – Turkey) is a Turkish politician and a human rights activist. Grew up in Izmir and graduated from Gazi University-English language department and translated many books. He is the author of many books (1). According to www.sabah.com.tr (6.22.2014), Cengiz Algan is a familiar name in the Libertarian left circles in Turkey, and he is a Co-founder of the The DurDe civic initiative “Say stop to racism and nationalism”, which is totally an independent organization and was established immediately after the murder of Hrant Dink. DurDe has organized the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Taksim and its against hate crimes . DurDe members are active in the Armenian issue, they oppose anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as well, and defend the rights of all disadvantaged groups (2).
According to http://en.hayernaysor.am/ (10.06.2013), The Turkish organization “Say no to racism and nationalism” intends to restore the Memorial dedicated to the Armenian Genocide erected in 1919 in the Gezi Park in Istanbul’s centrally-located Taksim Square but later dismantled. As reported by Armenpress, this was published by the Turkish information website demokrathaber.com. The Spokesman of “Say stop to racism and nationalism” Cengiz Algan reminded that the territory of the Gezi Park in Istanbul’s Taksim Square and the adjacent areas belonged to the Armenians. “In 1560 the territory was presented to the Armenians by the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent as a token of gratitude for his life was saved by an Armenian cook. A part of the park was occupied by the Armenian cemetery. In 1940s the Kemalist dictators snatched the territory from the Armenians”. He expressed his hope that someday the Memorial dedicated to the Armenian Genocide will be erected in its real place (3).
Cengiz Algan was one of the Turkish intellectuals who have signed an open letter to the Danish Royal Library, in response to official statements that the Royal Library of Denmark has agreed “to balance” an Armenian Genocide exhibition by allowing the Turkish government to mount its own “alternative” . The Turkish intellectuals mentioned that ” Turkish government has been suppressing historic truths and following a policy of denial for more than 90 years. The Turkish intellectuals have asked the authorities “Not to Stand Against Turkey’s Democratization and Confrontation with its History(4).
Under the title “Is Turkey Overcoming the Armenian Taboo?”, Orhan Kemal Cengiz wrote in ALMONITOT (April 22, 2013), “Turkey is changing from a country where the phrase Armenian question was never mentioned to one where groups are marching in the street using the term Armenian genocide”. Orhan Kemal added that “The change of language of the announcement used by the Dur De “Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism” initiative, which organizes these meetings, helps demonstrate the gradual erasing of the Armenian taboo in Turkey. In 2010, the announcement of the commemorative events began with the words, “This pain is our pain.” In the text, the events of 1915 were described as “the great disaster,” the Turkish equivalent of the phrase “Meds Yegern” used by Armenians. Cengiz Algan, spokesman for Dur De, said they received many threatening messages despite that “soft terminology.” The language became “clearer” over the years, and the number of threats declined. On the 2011 announcement, the title said only “April 24, 1915.” The text read, “This is the date when the extermination of the Armenians began.” The title of last year’s announcement read, “This is a pain of all of us,” while the text spoke of the tragedy of the Armenian people at length. The text of this year’s announcement is even more daring. It begins, “We are remembering the victims of genocide,” and it continues, “With the campaign of extermination that began on April 24, 1915, the Armenian people were eradicated en masse”(5).
In a press release -Paris 19 April 2014, it was announced that EGAM* and AGBU** Europe delegation of European Civil Society leaders to attend the Commemorations of the Armenians Genocide in Istanbul. The event was organized by their Turkish partners DurDe! and the Human Rights Association – IHD from April 21st to 25th. In Their appeal they stated ” In 1915, the implementation of a methodical and premeditated plan led to the extermination of one and a half million of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, in an attempt to destroy an entire civilization and to “Turkify” Anatolia. The Armenian people were the victims of a genocide which would soon serve as a gruesome reference for others to follow. The successive governments of the Turkish Republic have since fought to deny the dark side of the history of their country, and to make their people and the world forget that the genocide ever occurred. They added “Our shared initiative is one for recognition, solidarity, justice, and democracy.” This was signed by Paul Morin, Executive Dir.- EGAM, Cengiz Algan & Levent Sensever, Spokespeople for Durde! (Turkey), Alexis Govciyan, President & Nicolas Tavitian, Director AGBU (Europe), Ayse Öktem, Platform for “Confronting a Century of Denial” (Turkey),Charles Aznavour, singer (France), Bernard Henri Lévy, Philosopher (France), and many others. (6)
* EGMA : European Grassroots Antiracist Movement
**AGBU : Armenian General Benevolent Union