By Hanbersom Aghbashian
Dr. Semra Somersan (born in 1944 in Ankara- Turkey), is a Turkish professor at Bilgi University. She worked as an investigator journalist for some time. Dr. Somersan has graduated from Bogazici University Department of Economics in 1967, and won a Fulbright scholarship to do a Ph.D in The United States. She studied Social Psychology at Ohio State University in 1974, and gained her master degree in Anthropology in 1976 and her Ph.D in 1981. After working for two years as a visiting lecturer in the United States she returned to Turkey. At the beginning she worked as investigator journalist for the Point Magazine, then for Cumhuriyet. She has received two national journalism award because of investigative journalism about the toxic waste imports to Turkey. After a period of more than ten years of journalism, she shifted to academic work in 2000, and currently she is a lecturer at Istanbul Bilgi University- Department of Sociology. Courses given by her include Introduction to Sociology, Sociology of Culture, Sociological Perspectives, Nationalism and Racism, Social and Cultural Anthropology, European Society and Culture, Sociology and Law, Social Sciences and Lawyers for Human Rights Defenders. She has a long list of published articles and two published books, “Race and Ethnicity in Social Sciences, Istanbul Bilgi University Press, 2004” and “Environment and Politics in Turkey, the Ordinary Extraordinary country to country, Istanbul, Metis, 1993.” Dr. Semra Somersan has received many awarded including “Bulent Dikmener News award”, for her article in Cumhuriyet newspaper, “the news related to importation of toxic waste in Turkey” . The Turkish Medical Association Award, Contemporary Journalists’ Award, Best Teacher Award nomination, The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, 1978-79, and many others
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 complete, brief text of the apology says ” 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.” Semra Somersan was one of the intellectual who signed the petition which in few days was signed by over 13,000 signatories. (1)
Under the title “24 April, the anniversary of the 1915s events, will be remembered this year in Turkey, too.”, Taraf Newspaper of 20th April 2010 wrote “A group of intellectuals among them Ali Bayramoğlu, Ferhat Kentel, Neşe Düzel, Perihan Mağden and Sırrı Süreyya Önder, for the first time in Turkey, will commemorate this year on 24 April as the anniversary of the events of 1915, under the leader-ship of “Say Stop!” group. The commemoration will start in front of the tram station in Taksim Square. The group will be dressing in black and carry photos of massacred Armenian intellectuals who were deported from that station.” the following abstracts are from the text of the commemoration activity, “This pain is OUR pain. This mourning is for ALL of US. In 1915, when our population was just 13 million, 1,5 to 2 million Armenians were living in these lands…. In April 24, 1915 it was started “to send them”. We lost them. They are no longer available. They have not even graves. But the “Great Pain” of the “Great Disaster” , with its utmost gravity EXISTS in our pain”. Semra Somersan, was one of the Turkish intellectuals who called the people to join the event and signed the text. (2)
2- Taraf Newspaper, April 20, 2010.