By Hambersom Aghbashian
Eren Keskin (born 24 April 1959, Bursa, Turkey) is a lawyer and human rights activist. She is the vice-president of the Turkish Human Rights Association (ÝHD) and a former president of its Istanbul branch. She co-founded the project “Legal Aid For Women Who Were Raped Or Otherwise Sexually Abused by National Security Forces”, to expose abuses happening to women in Turkish prisons. In 1995 she was imprisoned for her activities and was adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International . In 2002 she was accused by Turkey’s State Security of “aiding and abetting” the PKK because of her advocacy for Kurds to use their native language in Turkey. In 2004 she received the Aachen Peace Award “for her courageous efforts and activities for human rights”. In 2005 she was awarded the Esslingen (Germany) – based Theodor Haecker Prize for Civic Courage and Political Integrity. In March 2006 a Turkish court sentenced her to 10 months imprisonment for insulting the country’s military. The sentence was then converted to a fine of 6000 Turkish Liras, which Keskin refused to pay.(1)
In her article “ We Are All Guilty”, (The Armenian weekly- Oct.20, 2009), Eren Keskin wrote, “In my view, the only thing that should be normal is accepting the fact of the genocide, with all its consequences, and apologizing to the Armenian nation”. And about all being guilty she wrote, “It’s been 94 years!, Those who believe in the lies, Those who don’t question the lies, Those who remain silent even if they don’t believe in the lies, Those, by their silence, approve of the lies, We are all guilty. And we owe thousands millions of apologies.(2)
In an interview with Eren Keskin (June 27, 2007), She was asked about Ankara’s policy of denial towards the annihilation of an estimated a million and a half Armenians by the ruling Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) under the cover of World War I. Keskin replied that “The Turkish official thesis regarding the Armenian genocide is still very influential in the street and in academia, although there are efforts to overcome this domination”.(3)
Sara Whyatt also interviewed Eren Keskin (7 March 2014) . One of her questions was “How do you see the future”? Keskin replied saying,”I don’t think there will be significant improvements in the short run because the current government, as was the case with previous governments, will not cross the red line on sensitive issues like the Armenian genocide, human rights abuses by the army, and violence against women. They do have their own ideas for solutions to these issues, but I don’t think there will be significant improvements, so of course the fight goes on.”(4)
On March 16, 2014, a group of Turkish journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders organized a conference entitled “One Less than 2015: Our Past and Future” ahead of the Armenian Genocide Centennial at the hall of Ismayil Beshikchi Foundation in Istanbul. The second session was quite heated. The lawyers touched upon the genocide from the legal angle and drew parallels between the genocides that have been committed to this day. The speakers mentioned that the Turks deny the genocide at the state level and the level of associations “by the instinct of defending the homeland”. According to the speakers, the society must put pressure on the government. Summing up, coordinator Eren Keskin said the following: “We have our share of the blame by keeping silent. We didn’t even raise the issue of famous anti-Armenian Dogu Perincek’s* release and preferred to keep silent”.(5)
In her book titled “Armenian Genocide, Yesterday and Today”, Eren Keskin wrote “Armenian people have argued for decades that when the Ottoman Empire, current day Turkey, moved onto their land and forced people from their homes, this was the first genocide known by the modern world”.(6)
* Doðu Perinçek (born June 17, 1942 in Gaziantep) is a Turkish politician. Since 1992, he is the chairman of the socialist Workers’ Party (Turkish: Ýþçi Partisi). In August 2013 he was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment as part of the Ergenekon trials.