By Hambersom Aghbashian

Doğan Akhanlı was born in Şavşat *, Turkey in 1957. He moved to Istanbul at the age of twelve. In the wake of the 1980 military coup d’etat, he went underground then was political prisoner from 1985 to 1987. He managed to fled to Germany in 1991, where he was granted political refugee status. In 1998, Turkey stripped him of his Turkish citizenship, but he became a German citizen in 2001. Akhanl?, in his novels, essays, interviews, and also in his projects in Germany, has consistently displayed an honest approach to historical violence. He initiated the Raphael Lemkin Library in Cologne, where he lives since 1990. He is committed to memorializing the genocides of the twentieth century, including the Armenian genocide, and to promoting cross-cultural dialogue with a view to reconciliation. Many institutions have sponsored Akhanlı ‘s projects and some of his projects were distinguished with awards. His novel Madonna’nin Son Hayali was singled out as one of the most important works in Turkey in 2005. In 2009, the Turkish daily Hürriyet awarded him its Literary Prize. Akhanlı has committed himself to exposing the truth about the murder of Hrant Dink and to perpetuating the memory of this Armenian journalist and publisher, who was dedicated to bringing about reconciliation between Armenians and Turks. Akhanl? is a staff member of the nonprofit organization ‘Research International’, which is principally concerned with developing educational curricula on genocidal violence. In addition Akhanl? is involved in a dialogue project on German, Kurdish and Turkish history and mutual understanding since 2010.(1)

According to “”, Dec. 21, 2010, “Doğan Akhanlı , has been jailed in Istanbul since August, when he entered Turkey to visit his father. Akhanlı wrote two novels on the Armenian Genocide, ‘The Judges of the last Judgment’ and ‘The Last Dream of the Madonna’. In 2009 he won the literary prize of the Turkish paper Hurriyet. Furthermore the writer has founded an organization which educates Armenians, Turks, Kurds and Germans to the memory of the 1915 genocide. In 2007 Akhanli stepped in to call for an independent investigation into the murder of Hrant Dink.(2)

“Turkish Intellectual Commemorates Armenian Genocide” was the title of an article posted by “” on May 16, 2011, where it stated ” On April 24, the guest speaker at the annual commemoration ceremony for the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in the historic Paulskirche, in Frankfurt, Germany, was Turkish intellectual and author Doğan Akhanlı . It was the first time that the Armenian community had invited someone of Turkish descent to hold the main address. Akhanlı had been jailed in Turkey under the military regime, and later emigrated to Germany in 1992, where he lives. He is the author of several novels in Turkish, translated into Germans, one of which takes up the theme of the Armenian genocide, a topic forbidden by Turkish law. In August 2010, he returned to Turkey to visit his dying father, but was arrested at the airport and thrown into prison for four months. Thanks to a campaign in his defense, organized by civil rights activists and Turkish and German intellectuals, he managed to leave Turkey and return to Germany.(3)

“The Mirror-Spectator ” wrote on September 25, 2014 from Cologne, Germany “If post-war Germany was able to acknowledge the Holocaust and work through its implications, politically and psychologically, why cannot the present Turkish establishment do the same regarding the 1915 Genocide? It is not only Armenians in and outside Germany who raise this question, but also Germans of Turkish descent, first among them Doğan Akhanlı , who received the Georg Fritze Memorial Award in Cologne, Germany on September 19.” (4)

Carolina Figini, Gariwo Editorial Staff , interviewed Dogan Akhanli on February 10, 2015. He was introduced as ” a writer and activist symbol of the fight for Turkish and Armenian reconciliation. A message of hope comes from this figure of civil courage, who fought for the memory of the Armenian genocide and the truth about Hrant Dink’s murder.” Amog many other things, Akhanlı mentioned in the interview that ” A lot has changed in Turkey since Hrant Dink’s murder. Since then, civil society has risen up. After 2007, it came to light in the public debate that there were lots of journalists and scholars who investigated on Armenian genocide and wrote books on the matter.” And about “Reconciliation” which he believes in, he said “it is a huge word. In this moment, I don’t know if the two populations are in the condition of reconciling, but dialogue has already been resumed.” And about his book ” “Die Richter desjüngsten Gerichts” he said, I was born in a place in the Georgia borders, where many thing were told about Armenian massacre. Before, this zone was Russian territory, it became Armenian and, in the end, there were massacres , and now it is Turkish. Massacres were carried out during Atatürk’s government, who killed 60 thousands of Armenians in this place.(5)

According to “” A worldwide reading on April 21st 2015 is going to be held in commemorating the centenary of the Armenian Genocide. In the appeal it was mentioned that “The international literature festival Berlin (ilb) and the Lepsiushaus Potsdam are calling for a worldwide reading on 21 April 2015, the day that marks 100 years since the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. Several hundred Armenian intellectuals, poets, musicians, parliamentary representatives and members of the clergy, were arrested in Istanbul on 24 April 1915, and deported to the Turkish interior where most of them were murdered. It was the start of a crime against humanity. The extermination of the Armenians during WWI was the first systematically planned and executed genocide of modern times. More than a million Armenians in the Ottoman empire died during this genocidal campaign. Doğan Akhanlı was one of the intellectuals who signed the appeal.(6)d
*Şavşat is a town and district of Artvin Province in the Black Sea region, between the cities of Artvin and Kars on the border with Georgia at the far eastern end of Turkey

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