By Hambersom Aghbashian

Professor Edhem Eldem (born in Geneva in 1960) is a renowned Turkish historian who teaches at the Department of History at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. He completed his Ph.D. degree in 1989 at Provence University, (Université de Provence, Aix-Marseille I, Institut de Linguistique Générale et dÉtudes Orientales et Slaves), and worked as an associate professor at Boğaziçi University (1989- 91), Tenured associate professor (1991-98) then full professor. He was a visiting professor, Centre d’études du domaine turc, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (2001-08), then In (2011-2012) he was a fellow at The Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. His research focus lies on the late Ottoman social and economic history, intellectual biographies and the history of archaeology.(1)

According to (http://www.esiweb.org), In September 2005, Prof. Halil Berktay, joined by fellow intellectuals Murat Belge, Edhem Eldem and Selim Deringil, organised a conference on the fate of the Ottoman Armenians. Justice Minister Cemil Cicek attacked the organizers in the Turkish parliament with the familiar charge of “stabbing the Turkish people in the back. And according to (The California Courier), June 2, 2005, “ Fearing that these scholars were about to disclose a version of history which was not in line with that approved by the Turkish government, the Governor of Istanbul called Ayse Soysal, the rector of Boğaziçi University, and ordered her to cancel the meeting. She declined. She also refused requests later that day from the Chief Public Prosecutor to hand over the texts of the papers to be delivered at the conference.”

In December 2008, two hundred prominent Turkish intellectuals released an apology for the “great catastrophe of 1915”. This was a clear reference to the Armenian Genocide, a term still too sensitive to use so openly. The signatories also announced a website related to this apology, and called on others to visit the site and sign the apology as well. The brief text of the apology is: “ 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 empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers and sisters. I apologize to them. Professor Edhem Eldem is one of the Turkish intellectuals who signed the apology. (5)

“Today’s Zaman”, wrote on September 26, 2014, “A group of academics, journalists, artists and intellectuals have released a statement condemning in 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. The two newspapers recently published reports on hateful remarks targeting Armenians in the textbooks used in history classes. 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. Edhem Eldem is one of the intellectuals who signed the statement.”(2)

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1- http://www.lisa.gerda-henkel-stiftung.de/content.php?nav_id=3971
2- http://www.todayszaman.com/national_group-of-intellectuals-condemn-anti-armenian-statements-in-textbooks_359935.html

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