By Hambersom Aghbashian

Doğan Tarkan (August 31, 1948 – December 25, 2013) was a Turkish politician and human rights activist. He had been a leading figure in the Turkish far left during the 1970s, a period of intense class conflict that involved street warfare between the left groups and the extreme right. During the subsequent period of reaction, his activist efforts continued as part of the struggle against the military dictatorship. As a principled fighter alongside the Kurdish liberation movement and the Palestine Liberation Organization, his influence had deep roots in the region. The military coup of 1980 sent Doğan Tarkan into exile, to London, along with many other Turkish revolutionaries. During the 1990s, he founded the Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party (DSİP) and became the Founding chairman of (DSİP).

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.” Doğan Tarkan was one of the Turkish intellectuals who signed the apology.(1)

According to, April 25, 2011, Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism Initiative organized events in Istanbul, Ankara, Bodrum and Diyarbakır to commemorate the Armenians massacred in 1915. Around 500 people gathered in front of a banner that read “the pain is ours”, at Istanbul’s Taksim Square. They lit candles and brought carnations “April 24, 1915 marks the start of a disaster that tore the Armenian people from this land where they lived side by side with others since centuries, that left hundreds of thousands dead and subject to all kinds of atrocities for nothing but being Armenians,” said Zeynep Tanbay, prominent modern dancer and human rights activist. “Since then, governments and state authorities tried to play down, if not to cover up and legitimize this history. Yet, this lethal exile is clearly a crime against humanity. We have to end denying, now. This is why we invite all our people who think that this land should be the land of fair people, to an late humanitarian duty. We have to declare that the heavy crime that’s symbolized by April 24 is our common pain.” Doğan Tarkan was one of the prominent Turkish intellectuals who participated in the commemoration ceremony. (2)

On Dec.27, 2011, wrote,  “The head of Turkish Revolutionary Socialist Workers’ Party (DSIP) Doğan Tarkan said that the 1915 events correspond to the Genocide definition, adopted by the UN in 1945. He stated that the Turkish nationalists, who spoke against the bill adoption on penalizing the Armenian Genocide by the French National Assembly, did not respond to what happened with 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. Denial is the last page of the Genocide. We call to struggle against the racism, national discrimination and the denial of the Genocide. Turkey must recognize and apologize,” Doğan Tarkan stated. Earlier, French National Assembly (lower house) passed the bill on penalizing the Armenian Genocide on December 22, 2011. (3)

Doğan Tarkan, the president of the Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party (DSİP) of Turkey, passed away on December 25, 2013. He died at the age of 65 of a heart attack at Taksim Metro Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey.(4)

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