778) UNESCO Censorship on Ottoman Archive Criticized / Letter from Mr S Aya & A Atlas

Historians showed harsh reaction to United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Education, UNESCO, for censoring documents in the exhibition of Ottoman Archives scheduled to be held in France’s capital Paris.

Emphasizing that the attitude of UNESCO does not agree with its real mission or historical realities, the historians supported the ministry’s cancellation of the exhibition.

Terming the events as “a shame”, Turkish Institute of History (TTK) President Professor Yusuf Halacoglu said, “It is nonsense for an organization required to be effective on cultural dialogue and union to strive to ban some documents.”

Reporting that the ones intervening with the exhibition continuously called for freedom of expression and limitation of information, Halacoglu continued: “Turkey acted in good faith to solve the Armenian genocide. The cases never refer to science or honesty anymore. There are some letters, which Armenians forwarded to the Ottoman Empire from America and Canada to ask for help. We are face to face with such a big shame.”

Said Ozturk from the Foundation of Ottoman Researches designated the UNESCO’s request for a change on the historical documents as sorrowful. It is of concern to sovereignty, Ozturk warned, “You will accept the exhibition or refuse it.”

By Mukremin Albayrak, Serbest Ozden, Istanbul
June 13, 2006

UNESCO Censorship for Ottoman Archives
UNESCO, an organization founded to promote collaboration among member countries to the United Nations through education, science and research, attempted to alter historical documents it did not like.

An exhibition of Ottoman Archives in Paris last week was cancelled due to controversy over censorship.

UNESCO asked that five of the 50 documents sent by the Turkish General Directorate of State Archives be removed from the exhibition and two of them be modified.

The documents censored include the friendship letters sent by Armenian dignitaries to the Ottoman palace in 1889 and 1898.

UNESCO claimed the letters would anger the Diaspora Armenians.

Another document about Jews was also asked to be modified.

The Ottoman Empire protected the Jews expatriated from Spain and Portugal at the end of the 15th century and settled them in different regions.

UNESCO has been uneasy about the expression, “The Jews who took refuge in the Ottoman State and settled in Edirne upon being expatriated from Spain and Portugal...” in the document included in the Tahrir Defteri, a written survey of a province.

UNESCO asked the word “expatriated” to be removed from the text and be replaced with “Spanish and Portuguese Jews.”

The document will only be allowed to be exhibited only after this change has been made.

Turkey’s permanent representative for the organization discussing the issue with UNESCO officials approved the removal of the five documents and the modification of the two documents.

The document on the Polish residents of Polonozkey in Istanbul that UNESCO asked to be removed was not excluded from the exhibition.

The Turkish representative later communicated these developments to the Foreign Ministry and General Directorate for State Archives.

The ministry and general directorate reacted harshly against the attempt for censorship and insisted on exhibiting the documents in their original form.

The General Directorate for State Archives emphasized the documents they chose meticulously do not offend any nation and said the samples show the Ottoman State displayed an impartial attitude towards humanity with no practice of any religious or ethnic discrimination.

As no consensus between Ankara and Paris was established, the exhibition scheduled to be held at the UNESCO Headquarters on June 8-22 was cancelled.

UNESCO officials stated the exhibition was postponed upon the Turkish Embassy’s demand but offered no response to questions regarding the censorship attempt.

Turkey’s Ambassador to UNESCO Numan Hazar said the exhibition has been postponed “due to technical problems.”

By Ali Aydin, Ankara
Monday, June 12, 2006


From: Ataman Atlas
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006
To: e.longworth@...
Subject: RE: Attempt to edit Official Ottoman Documents

Dear Ms Longworth,

I write to you about the recent attempt by UNESCO to edit and or censor official Ottoman documents, I reproduce for you below the article in the Zaman newspaper to which I refer to.

I must say I am not at all shocked or surprised that UNESCO and or other entities including nations would attempt to edit and modify history to suit themselves.

However, I am outraged that UNESCO and in particular yourself having Common Law training who espouse to the Rule of Law, Equality for All, and Liberal Democracies should attempt to deceive the world and apply double standards when it comes to the Turkish race and nation.

For many years the Armenians in particular have waged a propaganda war on the Republic of Turkey and all Turks in general. Propaganda against the Turks is not something new or something which they have not become accustomed to dealing with. However, when the propaganda is effected or carried out by supposed righteous institutes that are supposed to have morality and equality for all as its defining principle and fundamental foundations it is outrageous.

Incidents and examples such as that below only perpetuate the theory that the Crusades have never really ended, it only plays into the hands of fundamentalists that use examples of that below as a Christian conspiracy against the predominately Muslim Turks. When will the Muslim Turks get a "fair go" as is the Australian way?? Or is it as George Orwell once wrote, "Everyone is equal but some are more equal than others"?

Yours Sincerely

Ataman Atlas
Atlas Legal
irwin Chambers

Lvl 3 / 16 irwin Street
Perth, W.A 6000

Phone: (08) 9218 8024
Fax: (08) 9218 8027


Dear Ms. Longworth

In full support of the message sent on June 13th by my friend Mr. Ataman Atlas to you on the above subject, and in the memory of two of my sincere honorable friends who have been serving UNESCO organizations, I take the liberty of sending you this message, as "an old-man's advice who is in love with humankind."

It is indeed very sad that persons who are supposed to represent the "ethics, common sense, compassion, equality, love" and similar valuesfor the mankind, permit themselves to be used as tools of certain political or other preferential influences, reach or maintain their privileged positions. I imagine that persons who are too weak to stand behind their personality and fairness, should have problems when looking into mirrors, or speaking to their own selves when going to bed in loneliness.

By letting UNESCO (considered to be the shrine of NEUTRALITY, DECENCY and TRUTH) to become an instrument in hiding, preventing, diverting truths of past or present you are committing an unbelievable crime against morality and humanity.

Although I am no religious fanatic of any kind, but knowing that most crimes are committed for sake of co-religionists or in the name of GOD, kindly ask you to weigh your action against below basic, of the ten commandments:

a- You shall not murder. By preventing TRUTH to prevail, you are murdering truth!
b- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour ! Are you not bearing false witness by avoiding documented evidence?
c- You shall not covet anything which is your neighbour's. Are you not coveting the most valuable asset of Turks, the simple TRUTH ?

Dear Lady, permit me, based of my near-ending life experience, to say that stealing or avoiding prevailance of truth, is a much greater guilt than robbing the Tower of London. It is up to the of what are the values in life for one-self, and if the person is strong and rich enough to preserve his/her honesty and neutrality under all types of outside influences. In some religions, confessions are foreseen to relieve the person from this heavy burden or self-respect and decency. But even such confessions cannot take the weight of the guilt, you knowingly permit, to be a part of , when the happy days be!

Please make your choice Miss Longworth and try to answer above questions, so that you will not regret it in the later part of your life.

Yours sincerely,

Sukru Server Aya - Istanbul


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