By Hambersom Aghbashian

Ayhan Aktar is a Turkish professor of sociology. He studied sociology at Bogaziçi, (Bosphorus University), and worked at the Department of Political Science and International Relations- Marmara University until his early retirement in 2006. He later worked as a Visiting Professor at the Department of Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cyprus, Nicosia before joining the Institute of Social Sciences at the Bilgi University in 2010. Since 1991, Prof. Altar is Specialized on the state-minority relations in modern Turkey. His publications include “Capital Levy and Turkification’s Policies” (2000), “Turkish Nationalism, Non-Muslims and Economic Transformation” (2006), “The Diary of George Hacidimitriadis in ASKALE/Erzurum Labour Camp, 1943” (2011), and “Nationalism in the Troubled Triangle”, London ( 2010). Professor Aktar edited and wrote an introduction to the memoirs of Captain Sarkis Toross, “From Gallipoli to the Palestine Front” in 2012. (1)

In his article “The forgotten heroes of the Victory of March 18th”, Or “Was Gallipoli campaign yet another ‘Crusade’?”, Published in TARAF daily, Tuesday 18 March 2014, Prof. Ayhan Aktar, wrote, “The official line of March 18th points at General Mustafa Kemal as the ‘Only man, only General of Command’ whereas this official narrative contradicts with Ataturk’s own narrative.” He then released lot of information about Turkish and German highly ranked army personnel who participated in Gallipoli, and about the TURKIFICATION’, THEN ‘ISLAMISATION of that part of the history. Then he mentioned “ THE MAIN PROBLEM: 2015 ARMENIAN GENOCIDE”, where he wrote “It is a short while until 2015. We can figure out that the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will be burdensome for our ‘stately lot’. As far as I can see, a policy of ‘alleviation of the mutual suffering’ will be adopted to resist the international pressure regarding the Armenian issue in 2015. It was only on 25th April 2011, when Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spelled out the state policy. “We will present the year 2015 to the entire world, not as the anniversary of an alleged genocide slander, but as the anniversary of the glorious resistance of a nation, the anniversary of Gallipoli resistance. “ (Yeni Safak daily). So, the intention is apparent, responding to the victimization of the Ottoman Armenians, a policy of arousing pity, expecting balancing sympathy will be pushed into circulation by saying: “Yeah, but we died in Gallipoli too”. By so doing, attempts will be made to deflate the pressure abroad and justify the causes of the Armenian massacres within the country.(2)

According to Today’s Zaman, daily Sept. 26, 2014, a group of academics, journalists, artists and intellectuals have released a statement condemning the harshest terms what they define as expressions that include “open hatred and hostility” towards Armenians in Turkish schoolbooks, which were recently exposed by the newspapers Agos and Taraf. A letter accompanying the text of the condemnation, written by historian Taner Akçam, notes that including such expressions as lesson material to teach children is a disgrace. The signees said textbooks in schools should seek to encourage feelings of peace, solidarity and living together over inciting hatred towards different religious and cultural groups, Akçam said. The statement said: “The revolutions history and history textbooks should be collected immediately, with an apology issued to everyone and particularly to Armenian students. This is where the path to Turkish-Armenian peace lies, at this time when we are approaching 2015.” Ayhan Aktar was one of the signatories.(3)

Ayhan Aktar was one of the Turkish intellectuals who signed a petition against Denialist Exhibit in Denmark, an exhibition which was planned by the Turkish embassy to support their point of view concerning the Armenian Genocide. “Don’t Stand Against Turkey’s Democratization and Confrontation with its History!“ was the message to the Royal Library of Denmark who has given the Turkish government the opportunity to present an “alternative exhibit” in response to the Armenian Genocide exhibition.(4)

On September 24-25, 2005, a conference entitled “Ottoman Armenians During the Decline of the Empire: Issues of Scientific Responsibility and Democracy” was held at Bilgi University in Istanbul after two previous attempts which were blocked by the Turkish government. The self-avowed goal of the conference was to call into question the official Turkish account of events. The participants discussed the plight of the Armenians in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, a politically correct way in Turkey of saying the Armenian Genocide. It was the first time this subject was ever discussed so openly in Turkey. Ayhan Aktar was one of the organizers of the conference.(5)



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