By Hambersom Aghbashian
Prof. Cemil Koçak (born in Izmir- Turkey in 1956) is a Turkish Political and Social Sciences professor. After completing his secondary education in Izmir, he earned his B.A. in Journalism, School of Communications, Ankara University, 1978; M.A. in Political Sciences, Ankara University, 1980; and Ph.D. in Public Administration and Political Sciences, Ankara University, 1986. He gained his early work experience at the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK)*, 1984-1999; and worked as a Manager of the Department of Publications and member of the TÜBİTAK Publications Commission, 1993-1999; University of Anatolia. His areas of interest are Turkish political history; Turkish foreign policy; historical writing and methodology. He became a professor in 2007 and currently he is a lecturer at Sabancı University, faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and is continuing his investigation regarding Turkey’s recent political history. Prof. Cemil Koçak published many books including Rejim Krizi Cilt: 3 (2013), Tarihin Buğulu Aynası / Efsaneler Çökerken (2013), Geçmis Ayrintida Saklidir (2012), Iktidar Ve Demokratlar (2012) and many others. Also he has received many awards including Araştırma Ödülü – Türkiye Yazarlar Birliği (2011), Sedat Simavi Foundation Social Sciences Award (1991), Afet İnan History Research Award**(1990).
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, other cases of implying wrongdoing by the Ottoman state towards the Armenians have been, and are being currently prosecuted. (Including the much publicized case of Orhan Pamuk). Discussing the mass killings of Armenians has long been taboo in Turkey, and scholars who use the word genocide can be prosecuted under a clause in the Turkish penal code on insulting the national character. Academics from Bilgi University, Bogaziçi, and Sabanci University, three of Turkey’s leading higher-education institutions, organized the meeting, which they described as the first conference on the Armenian issue in Turkey not organized by state authorities or government-affiliated historians. Dr. Cemil Koçak of Sabancı University was one of the organizers.(1)
On 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 text of the apology stated, “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.” Prof. Cemil Koçak was one of the Turkish intellectuals who signed the apology.
* TÜBITAK : SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF TURKEY
**Ayşe Afet İnan or Afetinan (29 November 1908 – June 8, 1985) was a Turkish historian and sociologist. She was one of the adopted daughters of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
1- http://www.armeniapedia.org/ index.php?title=Conference:_Ottoman_Armenians_During_the_Decline_of_the_Empire