Archive for the 'Freedom of speech' Category

Armenia: Popular News Website Closes Comments Section, an Armenian investigative journalist website regarded as one of the most objective in the South Caucasus despite its often open support for the political opposition, has blocked all users from commenting on its articles citing constant usage of inappropriate language by some of its readers.

“Given that some individuals have continued to exploit the Comments Section for expressing personal vitriol and the use of foul language, rather than to advance true dialogue and debate,” explains on its website, “we are left with no recourse but to temporarily close it.”

Hetq’s move somewhat resonates with the now-lifted state of emergency in Armenia that the government issued following the March 1, 2008 violent clashes between opposition supporters and the police. The state of emergency at the time banned all media from reporting any political information other than statements provided by the authorities. has also deleted all previous comments – all originally posted without moderation. Recalling some of the comments I read before they were deleted, I can understand why Hetq would get sick and tired of many intolerant, polarized, extremist and irrational comments made by supporters of both the opposition and the authorities.

One thing that could have done is moderation of comments – post those without inappropriate language and intolerance. This could provide some with the opportunity to rethink their usage of words. Given the enormous number of comments moderation might have been technically and practically impossible for Hetq to do. But what kind of message is Hetq delivering with entirely blocking the comments section?

I hope our colleagues at Hetq will come to share our approach to Armenia’s politics that social revolution will bring political reforms. Unless there is a social-cultural revolution in Armenia where people learn to say ‘Thank You’ and ‘Sorry’ to each other and until the roots of intolerance are eliminated, there is not going to be democracy in Armenia. And Hetq could support this movement by starting moderating the comments instead of blocking them all.

Armenia: Internet Boom

The recent post-election unrest in Armenia and the state of emergency that has banned much of the media activities has given an unprecedented Internet boom. Blogs and websites are literally being created every time, such as,, and, while existing websites are getting record visits from Armenian users.

My own blog, which in the past was visited only by a handful of visitors from Armenia every day, has received most hits from Armenian host servers in the last two weeks.

Even before the state of emergency, and on March 1, 2008, it was impossible to visit Armenian websites such as and due to record visits.

The Internet is, undoubtedly, contributing to Armenia’s democratization and society’s engagement. No wonder why the government has started blocking this or that website. 

Turkey: Banned Circassian Researcher Given Official Explanation

The Turkish Ministry of Interior has officially responded to Circassian researcher Sait Uluisik’s inquiry in regards to the his recent deportation from Turkey. Uluisik had visited Turkey to research the archives on the Armenian Genocide and his people’s possible participation in it. He was deported to Germany from the airport before even getting to the archives. The official answer to Mr. Uluisik says that he has reportedly “engaged in research about genocide in connection with Armenian and Circassian activities.” Below is the (translated from Turkish) official letter that the Circassian researcher has received:

T.R. (Turkish Republic)Ministry of the InteriorGeneral Directorate of SecurityNumber:   B.05.1.EGM.                                                                                 K-Q                 996/08-235                                                                                               TSE-ISO-ENSubject:     M. Sait ULUІŞІK                                                                                          9000 (Prohibited Entry to country – 1st defense)                                                         [stamped 15 Feb. 2008]To the Presidential Office of the 7th Administrative Court of Ankara                                                                                                                        Base No:  2008/21PLAINTIFF                             : M. Sait ULUІŞІKREPRESENTATIVE               : Attorney Murat BÖBREK                                                Sezenler St., No:  3/7 Sihhiye ANKARASUBJECT OF LAWSUIT       : Regarding the demand for cancellation of the processing of prohibited entry into Turkey.CAUSE OF ACTION & 1st DEFENSE          : Upon the demand by representative Attorney Murat BÖBREK on behalf of the plaintiff M. Sait ULUІŞІK that the processing of prohibited entry of his client into Turkey be cancelled, the application of the lawsuit initiated against this Ministry was evaluated:     According to the information and documents received from the Presidential Office of Foreigners Border Asylum    The facts which have been confirmed by this Ministry about Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK, son of Alaettin-Fatma, born in Eskişehir on July 10, 1959 are listed below:1)       By the statement of EGM (Presidential Office of Intelligence) dated July 17, 2007, number 155318, the individual Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK, a German citizen of Turkish nationality, engaged in research about genocide in connection with Armenian and Circassian activities,After ascertaining the intentions of the plaintiff who was engaged in research at the Ottoman Archives located in Istanbul/Sultanahmet during the months of April-May 2007 for the purpose of finding support for theses that during the periods of the last years of the Ottoman Empire, the Party of Union and Progress and the Turkish National Struggle for Independence (Milli Mücadele), “the last Ottoman administrations provoked the peoples of the Caucasus, particularly the Circassians, against the Armenians,  that they instigated mutual killings between  T.R. (Turkish Republic)Ministry of the InteriorPublic Director’s Office of SecurityNumber:   B.05.1.EGM.                                                                                 K-Q                 996/08-235                                                                                               TSE-ISO-ENSubject:     M. Sait ULUІŞІK                                                                                          9000 (Prohibited Entry to country – 1st defense)                                                           the Circassians and the Armenians and therefore caused the genocide of the Circassians as well as the Armenians” and that he was able to further his research with financial support received from the “Konrad Adenauer Foundation” and the “Goethe Institute” which are active and located in Germany,  the investigation revealed that,             Not knowing whether the individual identified above was the same person as the plaintiff, it was confirmed that an individual named Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK, son of Alaettin-Fatma and born in Eskişehir on July 10, 1959, lost his Turkish citizenship, while registered at the Bilecik/Bozüyük office of vital statistics, by decision number 1956 of the Cabinet Ministers, dated June 7, 1991, based upon Turkish Citizenship Statute 403, Article 25/ç, for failing to perform his military duty. 2)      Based upon this, in accordance with the 5682 Passport Law supplementary 5th article which applies to this situation, and supporting the “Proper” decision of the Office of the Ministry dated Nov. 1, 2007, for the purpose of monitoring the entry and exit from our country,  on Nov. 6, 2007, by statement numbered 181368 a decision to prohibit entry by this individual was made. 3)      With that same statement, information was to be forwarded to your office’s records to determine whether the German citizen of Turkish nationality, Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK who was engaged in genocide research regarding the activities of the Armenians and Circassians was the same Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK whose entry to the country had been prohibited and in the event they were not the same,  notices were sent to the interested offices that ID information regarding the individual performing genocide research should be forwarded as soon as possible.  4)      Later, by statement dated Nov. 9, 2007 and numbered 09.11.2007, the undersecretary to the MIT [Abbreviation for: National Intelligence Organization] gave notice that based on their information it was confirmed that the German citizen of Turkish nationality, Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK, who was engaged in genocide research regarding the activities of Armenians  T.R. (Turkish Republic)Ministry of the InteriorPublic Director’s Office of SecurityNumber:   B.05.1.EGM.                                                                                 K-Q                 996/08-235                                                                                               TSE-ISO-ENSubject:     M. Sait ULUІŞІK                                                                                          9000 (Prohibited Entry to country – 1st defense)                                                           and Circassians was the same Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK whose entry into the country had been prohibited .  Wherefore:a)      Wherefore, the provisions of Passport Law  5682, 8th Article 5th paragraph, “Those who intend to disturb the security and public order of the Republic of Turkey or who it is suspected have arrived in order to be involved with or aid those who intend to and have disturbed it” b)      And the provisions included in the supplementary 5th Article of the same law, “Anyone who has lost Turkish citizenship, for whatever reason, may travel to Turkey so long as the Ministry of the Interior permits it upon a determination that there are no impediments.  Based upon the Turkish Citizenship Law, Title 403, Article 26, those who have lost Turkish citizenship but nevertheless wish to travel to the country as a tourist may do so for a period of up to four months total in one year”,c)      The provisions of Title 5683 of the Law on Residency and Travel of Foreigners in Turkey, 1st Article, “Foreigners whose entry into Turkey has not be prohibited and who  have entered according to the rules of the Passport Law, have the right to reside and travel in Turkey in accordance with the prevailing registration and conditions set by law.”,d)      The provisions of the same law, Article 19, “Foreigners whose stay in the country has been determined by the Ministry of the Interior to be a threat to general safety or are against political or administrative needs will be asked to leave Turkey within a stated period of time.   Those who do not leave by the end of that period may be deported.”e)      Whereas the provisions of the 21st Article of the same law state “The Ministry of the Interior has the authority to make decisions in support of deportation in accordance with this law”   T.R. (Turkish Republic)Ministry of the InteriorPublic Director’s Office of SecurityNumber:   B.05.1.EGM.                                                                                 K-Q                 996/08-235                                                                                               TSE-ISO-ENSubject:     M. Sait ULUІŞІK                                                                                          9000 (Prohibited Entry to country – 1st defense)                                               In light of this: The processing of the plaintiff by this ministry is, in accordance with Passport Law number 5682, supplementary Article 5, a legal action for the purpose of monitoring entries and exits from this country and making them subject to permission. In addition, based upon information which the plaintiff acquired from study and research it is clear that the plaintiff engaged in research on Armenian and Circassian activities that is against the interests of our country and in view of this, according to the provisions of Passport Law number 5682, Article 8, Paragraph 5 “Those who intend to disturb the security and public order of the Republic of Turkey or who it is suspected have arrived in order to be involved with or aid those who intend to and have disturbed it”  it is necessary to place this individual in the category of those whose entry into Turkey is forbidden.              When examining the matter from the viewpoint of International Agreements, the administrative action is determined to be apropos.             The provisions of the European Human Rights Convention, 4th protocol, 2nd Article state “Everyone who is legally within the boundaries of a nation state has the right to freely travel and choose a residency there.”             From the European Human Rights Convention titled “Prohibition on the Abuse of Rights”             The 17th Article whose language includes, “None of the provisions of this Convention can be interpreted to give a state, a society or an individual the right to engage in an activity or action that would destroy a right or freedom granted by this Convention or broaden a limitation on them that was not foreseen here.”              T.R. (Turkish Republic)Ministry of the InteriorPublic Director’s Office of SecurityNumber:   B.05.1.EGM.                                                                                 K-Q                 996/08-235                                                                                               TSE-ISO-ENSubject:     M. Sait ULUІŞІK                                                                                          9000 (Prohibited Entry to country – 1st defense)                                                          The Supplementary 4th Protocol of the aforementioned Convention titled “Freedom to travel”; “1.  Everyone who is legally within the boundaries of a nation state has the right to freely travel and choose a residency there.            2.  Everyone is free to not abandon a country, including their own.             3.  In a democratic society, these rights may be limited only for the purposes of protecting national security, public safety and order, the prevention of crimes, the protection of health and morality or others’ rights and freedoms, and as necessary precautions under the stipulations of the law.              4.  The rights enumerated in the 1st paragraph of this Article, may, as indicated in the 2nd Article,  have limitations enforced by law in a democratic society, for the purpose of promoting public good.”  Based upon these limiting precautions which have been reserved for use by countries to ensure safety and public order, it is clear that the action taken against this individual is supported by International Agreements.             Additionally, our Constitution,  Article 12 titled “The Quality of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms” provides that;            “Based upon their humanity, everyone possesses inalienable, nontransferable, immune fundamental rights and freedoms.  Fundamental rights and freedoms also contain duties and responsibilities of each individual to their society, their family and others. “            The 13th Article titled “ Limitations on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms” states,            “ Fundamental rights and freedoms may be limited by law in harmony with the language and spirit of the Constitution, for the purposes of protecting the indivisible whole of the state’s country and nation, national sovereignty, the Republic, national safety,  public and general order, public welfare, general morality and health, and also for special reasons as foreseen in  indicated Articles of the Constitution.            The general and special limitations on fundamental rights and freedoms indicated shall not be in opposition to the necessities of a democratic society’s organization and shall not be used beyond the purpose that was stipulated.            T.R. (Turkish Republic)Ministry of the InteriorPublic Director’s Office of SecurityNumber:   B.05.1.EGM.                                                                                 K-Q                 996/08-235                                                                                               TSE-ISO-ENSubject:     M. Sait ULUІŞІK                                                                                          9000 (Prohibited Entry to country – 1st defense)                                                           The reasons for a general limitation described in this Article are applicable to all rights and freedoms.”  This language emphasizes the authority of the administration to impose limitations that are in accordance with the law.              Accordingly, the supplementary 4th protocol to the European Human Rights Convention, stipulates that states may impose certain limitations for the purpose of ensuring national safety, public order and public security.            Additionally, the right to impose certain restrictions on the entry of foreigners into a country is part of states’ sovereignty rights, and the natural result of these rights is that every state may impose registration and rule requirements regarding the travel of foreigners.              In addition:              Since the start of 2004, Article 25/ç of Law number 403 has not been enforced.  Those who do not submit to military duty are no longer being removed from citizenship.             For this reason, those who lost their citizenship prior to 2004, may request and have their citizenship reinstated, without being subject to the conditions described in Law number 403.              In this way, the military files of those who have their citizenship reinstated are reactivated in accordance with Military Law number 1111, regardless of their age.            Additionally, the orders that prohibit entry for those individuals who have their Turkish citizenship reinstated are being lifted.             Having expended absolutely no effort in this regard up until now, and failed to show good faith, the action taken against this individual is determined to have not violated the regulations.  The information and documentation in support of the defense to be made in the Court indicated is comprised of this material. CONCLUSION:  In view of the fact that no violation of the regulations was found in connection with the action whose cancellation is demanded, I request a judgment that the lawsuit be dismissed and that the costs of prosecution and attorney fees be imposed on the plaintiff.                                                                                    [illegible signature]                                                                                    Osman KARAKUŞ                                                                                    In the name of the Minister                                                                                    1st Legal Counselor

                                                                                    1st Class Security Director

Azerbaijan: Amnesty International Remembers Editor’s Murder

Amnesty International has issued a press release on persecution of journalists in the ex-Soviet country of Azerbaijan drawing the story from the third anniversary of an outspoken journalist’s assassination by Azerbaijan’s regime.

Azerbaijani journalist Elmar Hüseynov was murdered outside his home in the capital Baku, three years ago on Sunday. His case has become a symbol of the continuing human rights abuses faced by journalists in the country.

The outspoken editor-in-chief of Azeri opposition magazine Monitor, Hüseynov was shot seven times walking out of a lift on 2 March 2005. Thought to be the victim of a contract killing, Hüseynov’s death is the most serious case in a continuing series of assaults on opposition journalists.

His colleagues and international press freedom organizations ascribed his murder to the political content of the newspaper, which closed following his death.

In July 2006, a former Ministry of Internal Affairs official, charged with kidnapping and murder, admitted to Hüseynov’s murder while testifying at his own trial. He claimed that he carried out the killing on behalf of the former Minister of Economic Development, himself on trial for plotting the overthrow of the government. So far no one has been prosecuted for Hüseynov’s murder. 


Several journalists in Azerbaijan are in jail, some of them for over a decade.

One of those still in prison is opposition newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev who, after years of harassment by the authorities, was tried twice in 2007. He was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment on charges of defamation, terrorism, incitement of ethnic hatred and tax evasion.

Eynulla Fatullayev worked on Monitor until it was closed. He then launched two popular opposition newspapers, Realny Azerbaydzhan (Real Azerbaijan) and Gündelik Azarbaycan (Azerbaijan Daily). Both newspapers closed in May 2007 after a series of inspections of their premises by the authorities.

Fatullayev has been one of the few to challenge official anti-Armenian xenophobia in Azerbaijan and his 2005 visit to Nagorno-Karabakh, a de facto independent Armenian region that broke away from Soviet Azerbaijan in the 1991, was crucial for the arrest. After returning from Karabakh to Azerbaijan, Fatullayev wrote a story on the killing of several hundred Azeris in the city of Khojalu during the war by Armenian soldiers raising the possibility that the Azeri militia in charge of Khojalu might have deliberately prohibited Khojalu residents from leaving despite Armenian leadership’s offer for a humanitarian corridor.

Hrant Dink Speech by Arundhati Roy

Counter Currents has posted a shortened version of Indian novelist Arundhati Roy’s commemorative lecture on Hrant Dink’s assassination presented at a Turkish university last Friday:

I never met Hrant Dink, a misfortune that will be mine for time to come. From what I know of him, of what he wrote, what he said and did, how he lived his life, I know that had I been here in Istanbul a year ago I would have been among the one hundred thousand people who walked with his coffin in dead silence through the wintry streets of this city, with banners saying, “We are all Armenians”, “We are all Hrant Dink”. Perhaps I’d have carried the one that said, “One and a half million plus one”.* [*One-and-a-half million is the number of Armenians who were systematically murdered by the Ottoman Empire in the genocide in Anatolia in the spring of 1915. The Armenians, the largest Christian minority living under Islamic Turkic rule in the area, had lived in Anatolia for more than 2,500 years.]

In a way, my battle is like yours. But while in Turkey there’s silence, in India, there is celebration.

I wonder what thoughts would have gone through my head as I walked beside his coffin. Maybe I would have heard a reprise of the voice of Araxie Barsamian, mother of my friend David Barsamian, telling the story of what happened to her and her family. She was ten years old in 1915. She remembered the swarms of grasshoppers that arrived in her village, Dubne, which was north of the historic city Dikranagert, now Diyarbakir. The village elders were alarmed, she said, because they knew in their bones that the grasshoppers were a bad omen. They were right;
the end came in a few months, when the wheat in the fields was ready for harvesting.

“When we left…(we were) 25 in the family,” Araxie Barsamian says. “They took all the men folks. They asked my father, ‘Where is your ammunition?’ He says, ‘I sold it.’ So they says, ‘Go get it.’ So he went to the Kurd town to get it, they beat him and took all his clothes. When he came back there-this my mother tells me story-when he came back there, naked body, he went in the jail, they cut his arms…so he die in jail.

And they took all the mens in the field, they tied their hands, and they shooted, killed every one of them.”

Araxie and the other women in her family were deported. All of them perished except Araxie. She was the lone survivor.

This is, of course, a single testimony that comes from a history that is denied by the Turkish government, and many Turks as well.

I am not here to play the global intellectual, to lecture you, or to fill the silence in this country that surrounds the memory (or the forgetting) of the events that took place in Anatolia in 1915. That is what Hrant Dink tried to do, and paid for with his life.

Most genocidal killing from the 15th century onwards has been part of Europe’s search for lebensraum.

The day I arrived in Istanbul, I walked the streets for many hours, and as I looked around, envying the people of Istanbul their beautiful, mysterious, thrilling city, a friend pointed out to me young boys in white caps who seemed to have suddenly appeared like a rash in the city. He explained that they were expressing their solidarity with the child-assassin who was wearing a white cap when he killed Hrant.

The battle with the cap-wearers of Istanbul, of Turkey, is not my battle, it’s yours. I have my own battles to fight against other kinds of cap-wearers and torchbearers in my country. In a way, the battles are not all that different. There is one crucial difference, though. While in Turkey there is silence, in India there’s celebration, and I really don’t know which is worse.

In the state of Gujarat, there was a genocide against the Muslim community in 2002.

I use the word Genocide advisedly, and in keeping with its definition contained in Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The genocide began as collective punishment for an unsolved crime-the burning of a railway coach in which 53 Hindu pilgrims were burned to death. In a carefully planned orgy of supposed retaliation, 2,000 Muslims were slaughtered in broad daylight by squads of armed killers, organised by fascist militias, and backed by the Gujarat government and the administration of the day. Muslim women were gang-raped and burned alive.

Muslim shops, Muslim businesses and Muslim shrines and mosques were systematically destroyed. Some 1,50,000 people were driven from their homes.

Even today, many of them live in ghettos-some built on garbage heaps-with no water supply, no drainage, no streetlights, no healthcare. They live as second-class citizens, boycotted socially and economically. Meanwhile, the killers, police as well as civilian, have been embraced, rewarded, promoted. This state of affairs is now considered ‘normal’. To seal the ‘normality’, in 2004, both Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani, India’s leading industrialists, publicly pronounced Gujarat a dream destination for finance capital.


It’s not a coincidence that the political party that carried out the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, was called the Committee for Union & Progress.

‘Union’ (racial/ethnic/religious/national) and ‘Progress’ (economic determinism) have long been the twin coordinates of genocide.

Armed with this reading of history, is it reasonable to worry about whether a country that is poised on the threshold of “progress” is also poised on the threshold of genocide? Could the India being celebrated all over the world as a miracle of progress and democracy, possibly be poised on the verge of committing genocide? The mere suggestion might sound outlandish and, at this point of time, the use of the word genocide surely unwarranted. However, if we look to the future, and if the Tsars of Development believe in their own publicity, if they believe that There Is No Alternative to their chosen model for Progress, then they will inevitably have to kill, and kill in large numbers, in order to get their way.


“Within an ongoing counterfeit universe,” Robert Jay Lifton says, “genocide becomes easy, almost natural.”

The poor, the so-called poor, have only one choice: to resist or to succumb. Bachchan is right: they are crossing over, quietly, while the world’s not looking. Not to where he thinks, but across another ravine, to another side. The side of armed struggle. From there they look back at the Tsars of Development and mimic their regretful slogan: ‘There Is No Alternative.’

They have watched the great Gandhian people’s movements being reduced and humiliated, floundering in the quagmire of court cases, hunger strikes and counter-hunger strikes. Perhaps these many million Constraining Ghosts of the Past wonder what advice Gandhi would have given the Indians of the Americas, the slaves of Africa, the Tasmanians, the Herero, the Hottentots, the Armenians, the Jews of Germany, the Muslims of Gujarat. Perhaps they wonder how they can go on hunger strike when they’re already starving. How they can boycott foreign goods when they have no money to buy any goods. How they can refuse to pay taxes when they have no earnings.

Stamp out the Naxals: They have no place in Shining India

People who have taken to arms have done so with full knowledge of what the consequences of that decision will be. They have done so knowing that they are on their own. They know that the new laws of the land criminalise the poor and conflate resistance with terrorism. (Peaceful activists are ogws-overground workers.) They know that appeals to conscience, liberal morality and sympathetic press coverage will not help them now. They know no international marches, no globalised dissent, no famous writers will be around when the bullets fly.

Hundreds of thousands have broken faith with the institutions of India’s democracy. Large swathes of the country have fallen out of the government’s control. (At last count, it was supposed to be 25 per cent). The battle stinks of death, it’s by no means pretty. How can it be when the helmsman of the army of Constraining Ghosts is the ghost of Chairman Mao himself? (The ray of hope is that many of the footsoldiers don’t know who he is. Or what he did. More Genocide Denial? Maybe). Are they Idealists fighting for a Better World? Well… anything is better than annihilation.

The Prime Minister has declared that the Maoist resistance is the “single largest internal security threat”. There have even been appeals to call out the army. The media is agog with breathless condemnation.

Here’s a typical newspaper report. Nothing out of the ordinary. Stamp out the Naxals, it is called.

This government is at last showing some sense in tackling Naxalism. Less than a month ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked state governments to “choke” Naxal infrastructure and “cripple” their activities through a dedicated force to eliminate the “virus”. It signalled a realisation that Naxalism must be stamped out through enforcement of law, rather than wasteful expense on development.

“Choke”. “Cripple”. “Virus”. “Infested”. “Eliminate”. “Stamp Out”.

Yes. The idea of extermination is in the air. And people believe that faced with extermination, they have the right to fight back. By any means necessary.

Perhaps they’ve been listening to the grasshoppers.

Turkish Court: Citizens Can Sue Those Who Admit Genocide

As Turkey is considering to amend Article 301 of its penal code – that has been used to prosecute those who bring up the subject of the Armenian Genocide – Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has ruled that individual citizens can bring civil actions against their countrymen who bring up the topic of the Genocide.

Today’s Zaman, a relatively moderate newspaper from Turkey, reports that Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has “opened the way” for Turkish individuals to bring civil actions against their country’s best-known novelist and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk for having talked about the Armenian Genocide.

The Supreme Court of Appeals yesterday nullified a local court ruling that dropped a civil suit against Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk for his controversial remarks about Armenian allegations of genocide that were published in a Swiss magazine in 2005.

A civil suit had been filed by a group of five people, including relatives of martyrs who claimed that Pamuk put the blame for atrocities committed against Armenians during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire on the entire Turkish nation with his remarks. During an interview to Swiss Das magazine Pamuk had said: “We killed 30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians in these lands. Nobody but me dares to say this in Turkey,” in remarks that drew ire from the Turkish public — particularly from nationalist circles.

İstanbul’s Şişli Third Civil Court of First Instance dropped the case in a 2006 ruling on the grounds that there had been no violation of the individual rights of the plaintiffs in Pamuk’s remarks. The plaintiffs appealed the court decision.


The court ruling has opened the way for thousands of families of martyrs to file cases against Pamuk. The lawyer of the plaintiffs, Kemal Kerinçsiz, who is a well-known ultranationalist, said earlier that all the families of martyrs would file cases against Pamuk and take away his Nobel Prize money if the Supreme Court of Appeals nullified the local court ruling.

Armenia: Genocide Museum-Institute Website Updated

I just noticed that the website of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute has finally been updated with a somewhat professional design on January 19, 2008.

The website has also posted a previously unpublished interview with Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink who was assassinated exactly a year ago in Istanbul. Talking about the circumstances that led to the establishment of Agos, the Armenian newspaper that Dink edited, he said:

The word Armenian was considered to be an abuse; the Turks connected the Armenians with the Kurdish Worker Party (PKK) or with ASALA (the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia). There was a great anxiety and trouble in the community when the Karabagh problem was discussed in Turkey.
We lived like a worm. We heard what was on TV but could do nothing. We apposed, cried, told that all these were lie but could not speak loudly. We need to break the wall, it was necessary.

One day the Patriarch Ghazanchyan invited us and told that there was a photo of an Armenian priest and [Pkk leader] Abdullah Odjalan in the “Sabah” newspaper and there was written under the photo “Here is the fact of Armenian and PKK collaboration”.

Then His Holiness stated that it was a lie, the priest was not an Armenian. He asked me and my friends who were with me at that time what we thought about all that. I expressed my point of view and suggested that it’ll be meaningful if we invite a press- conference. It was a brave action, all the local and international press came and it was a great success. The impression was indescribable.

After the meeting I suggested that it was nonsense to invite a conference on every occasion, we had to take definite steps. And I suggested publishing a newspaper.

Talking about minorities in Turkey, Dink said:

You will not find anything connected with minorities especially the Armenians in any textbooks. There are facts on minorities only in the textbook of the National Security. In the elementary school there is not even a sentence like “Ali gives the ball to Hakob”; Ali will always give it to Veli. When we observe them we are nowhere.
Only in the textbooks of National Security you may find the word “Armenians” which will take place in the unit of unprofitable groups which play bad tricks with Turkey.

Armenia: “Prisoners of Conscience”

The Amnesty International has released a report on discrimination of Jehova’s Witnesses in the Republic of Armenia.  The report proclaims all imprisoned members – who avoid military service – of the controversial religious group “prisoners of conscience.”

According to the report, “Jehovah’s Witnesses have been active in Armenia since 1975. ” 

Although the organization is unjustly seen as a an enemy in Armenia, my own concern about the group extends to the treatment of their own children – especially their health and in particular the refusal of blood transfusion.

I have also heard allegations of a group suicide by teenage orphans in Armenia after becoming members of the controversial group.

On one hand, I have  to agree with the Amnesty International report that there is discrimination in Armenia against the organization. Within the past year, for instance, Armenian newspapers have reported few, if any, cases of persecution toward members of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And the biased tone used in describing the religious organization by much of the Armenian media suggests that persecutions would hardly be noticed and/or reported in the first place. In particular, the religious organization is continuously referred to as a “sect” with a blatant negative connotation in the Armenian language and culture. Popular daily newspapers in the Republic of Armenia often refer to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a “sect” and “totalitarian” resonating with many derogatory terms popularly used in Armenia to refer to religious minorities.  A recent Azg article (in Armenian), for one example, says that “sects shake the foundation of the state” and quotes a journalist accusing a freedom of expression activist for not having a “list” of individuals who were allegedly psychologically devastated after joining Jehovah’s Witnesses.

On the other hand, I also have serious concerns about the organization’s treatment of its own members and the tactic of recruiting minors and especially from oppressed economic backgrounds. And what is the most ironic is the organization’s call for “freedom of expression” while at the same time they consider their own critical members as agents of the evil and call those who leave the group, “liars.”

Turkey: Hrant Dink Memorial Lecture by Indian Activist Arundhati Roy

In addition to many events in Turkey to commemorate the first anniversary of the assassination of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, world famous Indian feminist Arundhati Roy and author of “The God of Small Things” will honor Dink’s memory with a talk on freedom of expression:

Bogazici University
Department of History
Department of Political Science and International Relations


2008 Hrant Dink Memorial Lecture


Freedom of Expression and Human Rights

Arundhati Roy
Listening to Grasshoppers

January 18, 2008, 15:00, Albert Long Hall (BTS), South Campus

The talk will be presented in English

Last year I read Roy’s famous book, The God of Small Things. Here is some parts of a short reflection that I wrote for a class on Roy’s book:

The story of India’s Dalits – the outgroup “untouchables” – and their fight against the discrimination against them, the delegitimization and dehumanization they face on a daily basis.

Women’s choice of their loved ones in the novel show societal norms and prejudices. While it is “ok” (and actually an honor) for one of the heroes of the book, Rahel, to marry an American man, Ammu is not supposed to meet with Veluha – a Dalit -because it is “wrong” to touch the untouchables. I remember learning about Dalits first time. It was last year in a South Asian politics course and I was totally shocked. I thought slavery as dehumanization was the highest level of continues societal oppression against a collectivity, but I came to realize the horrors of injustice in India. I remember reading an article from India’s Frontline newspaper a few months ago about an “occupation” legally banned in India – “manual scavenging.” The article brought example of specific “professionals” in the field and described their humiliating way of life. One Dalit woman even simply married a man in a busy neighborhood just because “manual scavenging” would be more needed in the area. In just one Indian suburb, about 100 families were in that “business.” I really had trouble understanding and visualizing what “manual scavenging” meant. Then I remember the article explaining “it” in these exact words: “people lifting human excreta with their hands and carrying the load on their heads, hips or shoulders. If they are lucky, they get to use a wagon.” I had some trouble understanding the article at first. The above description was technically not difficult to understand, but certainly difficult to imagine. No wonder the phrase “untouchables.” My conscience was fundamentally shocked after reading that article. And the most saddening aspect of the “job” was that it was a “family business,” that children were born into it and there was little chance for an escape.

The identity of Dalits has interested me more when I started researching India’s Christian communities. Apparently, many of India’s “new” Christians are Dalits who convert to Jesus’ faith to escape the Dalit identity, because there is no way for them to escape it as Hindus during their lifetimes. I recall reading about mass conversions to Christianity and Buddhism when entire villagers would travel miles just to change their religion. Islam used to be the alternative of escaping the Dalit identity, but after the partition Muslim became the enemy and a Dalit would rather remain an untouchable Hindu than a Muslim in India. This shows the degree of desperateness of these children of God, as Gandhi called them. There is no acculturation and integration for them, but a mere possibility – if any – for assimilation to escape their identity.

Children of God? It reminds me of something – The God of Small Things. Could the “small things” be the Dalits who had been marginalized for hundreds of years? I am not positive that the author was making direct reference to Gandhi’s phrase, but I think she may have found inspiration in India’s founder’s words. I also find inspiration in Gandhi’s words, as much as I see hope, resistance and fight in a few simple words – the God of Small Things.

I think the title shows the extent of power that an ordinary person can have in changing the world (note the connection to Hrant Dink). By dating a Dalit, Ammu was challenging the unjust system that is so rooted in India’s society. And what Ammu was doing was a “small thing,” but it was an individual resistance against the dehumanization of millions of innocent people. And God, I think, was the divine approval for the righteous act of Ammu’s “small thing;” the message that small people can make difference with small things and that the “untouchables” are not going to become “touchables” overnight without fight, challenge and resistance.

Turkey: Genocide Researcher Denied Entry

A friend was telling me yesterday that a certain field of psychology, developed in France, studies the memory of the  perpetrator group in genocides.  In a hundred years, it is thought, the forgotten crime evokes discussion and condemnation of the genocide among the descendants of the perpetrators.  

Only seven years before the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, there are still only a handful Turkish scholars who openly write and acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.  But given the fact that these scholars literally risk their lives and everything else they have, their existence is amazing.  Moreover, Turkey’s millions-of-dollars-campaign to attract non-Turkish scholars in the genocide denial “scholarship” has produced a pool of few professors who, I guess, don’t mind being the devil’s advocate as far as the devil is paying well.

This is, perhaps, the reason that the ultra-nationalist “deep state” apparatus in Turkey is freaking out that the list that has included Taner Akcam, Fatma Gocek, Elif Shafak and others is growing.

Mehmet Sait Uluışık, a Turkish-born Circassian, has only recently started researching the role of his own ethnic group – the Circassians – in perpetrating the Armenian Genocide although Mr. Uluışık is careful not to use the word ‘genocide.’

But Turkish nationalists already know that they can’t label Uluışık a “traitor” because the Circassian researcher is not investigating the genocide as a whole but is instead specifically looking into the role that his own people – a Muslim group from the Caucasus – played in the massacres.  Moreover, in Turkey’s attempt to deny, justify and downplay  the Armenian Genocide some have talked about “the Circassian genocide,” with a reference to persecution of the Circassian people under Tsarist Russia.

So yes, Mr. Mehmet Sait Uluışık is more dangerous for the Turkish apparatus than any other scholar so far.  And, so, he was recently denied entry to his homeland.

Here is a press release, received in e-mail, from Mr. Uluışık about what happened at the Turkish airport:

Notice to Press and Public

      My name is Mehmet Sait Uluışık and I was born in Eskişehir (Turkey) on July 10, 1959. On November 20, 2007, at Yeşilköy Airport (Istanbul), without presenting any justification but based upon an order from the Ministry of the Interior, I was declared a suspicious person, denied entry into Turkey and sent back to Berlin on the first return flight.

      I have been living in Germany since 1984 and have worked as a journalist and publisher since 1992. Because of my Circassian ethnic background I have been interested in Circassian history and since 2005 have stopped working actively as a journalist and publisher and started devoting all of my time to gathering documents on the subject.

      I was stripped of my Turkish citizenship in 1991 because of my failure to perform obligatory military service (based on Order #1956, dated June 7, 1991, supported by Statute 403, Section 25, paragraph ç). Since 1997, the year I became a German citizen, I have been entering and exiting Turkey regularly without incident.

      I was not provided with the official reason for denying my entry into Turkey. Despite this, based upon information that I was able to gather from contacts I made, the reason I was denied entry into Turkey is apparently to prevent my performing research at the Presidential Ottoman Archives (Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşiv, hereinafter “BOA”) in Istanbul.

      There is a very simple reason why my entry to Turkey was blocked instead of directly prohibiting my research at the archives. If the latter had occurred, it would have made an obvious statement that would have belied the arguments of the governing AK Party administration that “Our archives are open to all. Everyone’s welcome to come in and examine them,” or “let the historians form a commission.” By using a different strategy and preventing my entry into the country, it allows for the raising of a suspicion that there are perhaps other issues in my personal background.

      Recently, I started to wonder about the history of Circassians and I want to write a book about the subject. The actual topic that interests me is “Did the Circassians play any role in the events of 1915 and if so, what?” Also, I have been trying to find the answers to the question, “What was the relationship between Circassians and other minorities during the period in question, prior to that and afterwards?” For the past two years, I have been working in a regular, disciplined manner at the BOA and systematically gathering documents on the subject. A large part of my life during the past two years has been taken up this way at the archives in Istanbul.

      During my work at the archives I was frequently blocked in my efforts by the employees, who are known as followers of Turkish-Islamic synthesis (mostly supporters of the Turkish nationalist party). I believe that the denial of my entry into Turkey was the result of efforts by these same individuals. At the airport I was presented with a “Record of Denial of Entry” form. On the form was all of my identification information. This information taken from my German ID card is available in only one place, and that is the Presidential Ottoman Archives.

      The police officer at the airport informed me that the order [to deny entry] came directly from the Ministry of the Interior, not from the General Directorate of Security. Based upon his investigation of the issue, parliamentarian Mr. Ufuk Uras informed me that the entry denial did not come from the Ministry of National Defense nor did it have anything to do with military service.

      Since the issuance of the entry denial on Nov. 20, 2007, I have made no effort to broadcast this information. I believed that the ban was an effort to discredit the AK Party administration. I had hoped that the AK Party administration would quickly rectify the situation when it so obviously contradicts the government’s policies as stated to the public. I tried to remain silent because if the incident were revealed, it would create an obstacle in Turkey’s relations with the European Union and lead the way to lowering opinion towards the current administration and Turkey in general, especially after recent discourse regarding the events of 1915. I tried to resolve it through private channels.

      Unfortunately both my own efforts and those of my attorney to reach the authorities within the AK Party have come to a standstill. I was unable to get anywhere with my efforts. That leaves only one option: letting the public know, through the media, about a mindset that attempts to prevent an individual from conducting research in the archives by denying them entry into the country.

      It is obvious what sort of difficulty is going to befall someone like me who is doing nothing other than gathering documents in a systematic manner from the archives, if a government that claims “Our archives are open to all; we welcome the formation of a historians commission” turns around and not only denies that person access to the archives but even entry to the country itself. Nothing that Turkey and its administrations say on the subject can be considered credible. One can only smirk at a statement like “Let’s solve our problems from the past” when it comes out of a mindset that views working in the archives and gathering documents as criminal. This can only be answered with the statement, “Do your homework first, then open up the archives to everyone.”

      I want this disrespectful action against me resolved immediately and my work, which has been delayed because of it, compensated for as soon as possible.


      Mehmet Sait Uluışık

      Jan. 2, 2008 – Berlin

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