By Hambersom Aghbashian

Betül Tanbay (born 1960) is a Turkish professor of mathematics at Bogaziçi University, Faculty of Arts and Science, Department of Mathematics-Istanbul, Turkey. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics, from Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, (1982), M.S. (1984) and Ph.D.(1989) degrees in Mathematics, both from University of California, Berkeley. Her areas of interest are Functional Analysis, Operator Algebras and Set Theory and has published books in mathematics.(1) Betül Tanbay is member of the Raising Public Awareness Committee and of the Ethics Committee of the European Mathematical Society. She is also the president of the Turkish Mathematical Society (founded in 1948). As well as her active scientific career, she is also married with children.(2)

On December 15, 2008, Associated Press Writer Suzan Fraser wrote from Ankara that a group of about 200 Turkish intellectuals issued an apology for the World War I-era massacres of Armenians in Turkey.”My conscience does not accept that (we) remain insensitive toward and deny the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected in 1915,” read the apology. “I reject this injustice, share in the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers, and apologize to them.” The apology is a sign that many in Turkey are ready to break a long-held taboo against acknowledging Turkish culpability for the deaths. Historians estimate that, in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks in what is widely regarded as the first genocide of the 20th century. Armenians have long pushed for the deaths to be recognized as genocide. Betül Tanbay was one of the intellectuals who signed the apology.(3)

The temporary exhibition titled “Armenian Genocide and Scandinavian Response” was opened on November 6, 2012, in Copenhagen Royal Library. The Turkish government demanded the Royal Library to open “an alternative” exhibition. And in response to the official statements that it was agreed, a group of Turkish citizens–including academics, writers, former members of parliament, and mayors–have signed an open letter to the Royal Library, in which they have mentioned” By giving the Turkish government the opportunity to present an’alternative exhibition’ 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.” Betül Tanbay was one of the signees.(4)

On September 30, 2014, The Armenian Weekly wrote “Turkish scholars, artists, and writers harshly condemned primary and middle school textbooks that are replete with anti-Armenian rhetoric in Turkey, and demanded that the books be pulled from circulation.” the signatories wrote, “After immediately pulling the ‘History’ and ‘History of the Turkish Revolution’ textbooks from circulation, apologies should be issued to all students, particularly to Armenian ones. As we approach 2015, the road to Turkish-Armenian peace that we long for passes through here.” The textbooks portray Armenians as traitors who plotted with foreign enemies to tear apart the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, and as mass murderers of innocent Turkish and Muslim women and children while Muslim men were waging a war of survival. The textbooks, all published over the past few years and approved by a special commission of Turkey’s Ministry of Education, are also mandatory in Armenian schools in Turkey. Two newspapers in Turkey, Agos and Taraf, had published a series of articles by Taner Akçam on the anti-Armenian hate-filled rhetoric in Turkish textbooks earlier in September. Betül Tanbay was one of the signees of the statement.(5)

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