Latest Posts At Our Facebook Group Facebook.com/groups/ArmenianGenocideResourceCenter
- How Reliable Are The Eyewitness Accounts/Testimonies From Survivors?
- Diaspora Is Aware Of The Change
- An Interview With Professor Taner Akcam
- The Armenian Diaspora And Its Future
- “With An Unrestrained Access To The Archives In Ankara, We Can Gain A Much Better Understanding Of German Responsibility” Hilmar Kaiser
- Turkey-Armenia Travel Grants
- Vox Pops: Life As An Armenian In Turkey
- Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme financed by the European Union 2016-2017
- Enemy Is The One Whose Story We Don't Know
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How reliable are the eyewitness accounts/testimonies from survivors?
"Just because someone tells you something with a lot of confidence and detail and emotion, it doesn't mean it actually happened...
You need independent corroboration to know whether you're dealing with an authentic memory, or something that is a product of some other process.”...
We not only distort memories for events that we have witnessed, we may have completely false memories for events that never occurred at all...
Even memories which are detailed and vivid and held with 100 percent conviction can be completely false...
What Experts Wish You Knew about False Memories
Just because you're absolutely confident you remember something accurately doesn't mean it's true
By Julia Shaw on August 8, 2016
Every memory you have ever had is chock-full of errors. I would even go as far as saying that memory is largely an illusion.
This is because our perception of the world is deeply imperfect, our brains only bother to remember a tiny piece of what we actually experience, and every time we remember something we have the potential to change the memory we are accessing.
I often write about the ways in which our memory leads us astray, with a particular focus on ‘false memories.’ False memories are recollections that feel real but are not based on actual experience.
For this particular article I invited a few top memory researchers to comment on what they wish everyone knew about their field.
First up, we have Elizabeth Loftus from the University of California, Irvine, who is one of the founders of the area of false memory research, and is considered one of the most ‘eminent psychologists of the 20th century.’
Elizabeth Loftus says you need independent evidence to corroborate your memories.
According to Loftus: “The one take home message that I have tried to convey in my writings, and classes, and in my TED talk is this: Just because someone tells you something with a lot of confidence and detail and emotion, it doesn't mean it actually happened. You need independent corroboration to know whether you're dealing with an authentic memory, or something that is a product of some other process.”
Next up, we have memory scientist Annelies Vredeveldt from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, who has done fascinating work on how well we remember when we recall things with other people.
Annelies Vredeveldt says to be careful how you ask questions about a memory.
According to Vredeveldt: “What I'd like everyone to know is how (not) to probe for a memory of an event.
When you are trying to get a story out of someone, be it about a witnessed crime or a wild night out, it seems natural to ask them lots of questions about it. However, asking closed questions, such as ‘what was the color of his hair?’ or worse, leading questions, such as ‘he was a redhead, wasn't he?’ often leads to incorrect answers.
It is much better to let the person tell the story of their own accord, without interrupting and without asking questions afterwards. At most, you might want to ask the person if they can tell you a bit more about something they mentioned, but limit yourself to an open and general prompt such as ‘can you tell me more about that?’
Research shows that stories told in response to free-recall prompts are much more accurate than stories told in response to a series of closed questions. So if you really want to get to the bottom of something, restrain yourself and don't ask too many questions!”
Finally, we have Chris French from Goldsmiths, University of London, who has done decades of research on anomalous and paranormal memories, and believes that some of these may be the result of false memories.
Chris French wants you to stop believing common memory myths.
“My top 5 take-home messages on memory:
1. Memory does not work like a video camera, accurately recording all of the details of witnessed events. Instead, memory (like perception) is a constructive process. We typically remember the gist of an event rather than the exact details.
2. When we construct a memory, errors can occur. We will typically fill in gaps in our memories with what we think we must have experienced not necessarily what we actually did experience. We may also include misinformation we encountered after the event. We will not even be consciously aware that this has happened.
3. We not only distort memories for events that we have witnessed, we may have completely false memories for events that never occurred at all. Such false memories are particularly likely to arise in certain contexts, such as (unintentionally) through the use of certain dubious psychotherapeutic techniques or (intentionally) in psychology experiments.
4. There is no convincing evidence to support the existence of the psychoanalytic concept of repression, despite it being a widely accepted concept.
5. There is currently no way to distinguish, in the absence of independent evidence, whether a particular memory is true or false. Even memories which are detailed and vivid and held with 100 percent conviction can be completely false.”
The take home message remains: Your memory is incredibly malleable. Because you often cannot spot a false memory once it has taken hold, the only way to prevent false memories is to know that they exist and to avoid things that facilitate them.
Want to learn more about the science of false memory? Learn about the work of Loftus, Vredeveldt, French, and hundreds of other fascinating memory scientists in my new book The Memory Illusion.
Diaspora is aware of the change
Chair of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society Megerdich Megerdichian was in Istanbul for “Critical Approaches to Armenian Identity in 21st Century” conference and we talked to him pursuant to the content of the conference. Megerdichian says, “Both diaspora and Armenia is aware of the change in Turkey and the awakening of the Armenians in Turkey.”
Let’s start with your thoughts on the conference…
Armenian community in Istanbul had been unable to build a healthy relationship with diaspora and Armenia, you know the reasons. There was only some kind of relationship between the churches. Apart from that, there wasn’t any social, cultural or political contact. For a while, we have been witnessing that there are efforts for building new relationships, thanks to Hrant Dink and the works of the foundation that bears his name. Both diaspora and Armenia is aware of the change in Turkey and the awakening of the Armenians in Turkey. This awareness makes new forms of relationships possible. We have to develop new forms of relationships between diaspora and the Armenians in Turkey. We know that there had been reservations against the Armenians in Turkey. Some people still have them. However, most people recognize the deep knowledge and will of the people in Hrant Dink Foundation’s circle. Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society also recognizes this. We try to consider the essentials. We want to decide what to do and how to do it with elaborate ideas and thoughts instead of giving in the superficial approaches.
During the conference, researchers from Turkey, US, Europe, Georgia, Jordan, Lebanon and Armenia gave presentations. What does this diversity say about the future projects? What would you suggest for making such conferences reach to larger masses?
Since the topic in hand requires academic discussion, the presentations were on academic level. However, we also need discussions that include political, social and cultural fields. The elements of Armenian identity are more diverse compared to the past.
Media could inform the society about these developments. Armenian press in Istanbul was not much willing to follow the conference. In fact, one of the daily newspapers hasn’t even covered it. What do you think about that?
I am not pessimistic about this issue. We assessed the situation beforehand and focused on Agos. It is a reliable and prestigious newspaper and the workers of Agos followed the conference. “Aztag”, a newspaper that is published in Beirut, made preparations for covering the conference through Agos. Sevan Değirmenciyan, one of your writers, will write this story for Aztag.
The collaboration of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society and Hrant Dink Foundation influences Armenians in Istanbul and Beirut. In the past, Vartanants Choir from Istanbul visited Beirut. Zavaryan Students’ Union has close ties with Nor Zartonk in Istanbul. How could such relations be improved further?
We discussed this issue a lot. First of all, I would like to note that the works of Hamazkayin Central Board is not limited to Beirut. We have direct contact with many countries, including France, England, Sweden, Greece, Cyprus, US, Canada, Australia and Syria. I should emphasize Syria, since Hamazkayin Syria Committee continues its works despite the conditions of war. The process was started from Beirut because of geographical proximity. For instance, taking Vartanants Chior to a more far away country would have been much more expensive. It was a successful event. The audience liked the choir and also Beirut made good impressions on the choristers. We have serious problems in terms of culture and education in diaspora. We also have projects in those fields. We had also some projects collaborated by non-Armenian institutions, but we had to postpone them because of the current political atmosphere. In this context, I would like to express my gratitude to Hrant Dink Foundation for holding this conference in such a painful time.
An Interview with Professor Taner Akcam
Akcam: ‘The Denialism of Historical Truth Is a Policy, it Is a Preference—a Choice, Rather Than a Rational Argument.’
Below is the English translation of an interview conducted by Turkey’s Agos Newspaper with Professor Taner Akcam on the authenticity of long disputed Armenian Genocide documents—the memoir of Naim Bey and the Talat Pasha telegrams. Akcam is the Robert Aram, Marianne Kaloosdian, and Stephen and Marion Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University.
Agos: A new work of yours, named The Naim Efendi Memoirs and Talat Pasha Telegrams has been published. Could you briefly tell us what your book is about?
Taner Akcam: As the title indicates, the book is about the memoirs of an Ottoman officer by the name of Naim Efendi and the Talat Pasha telegrams, which ordered the killing Armenians.
Agos: Aren’t these part of the so-called “Talat Pasa fake telegrams” claimed to be fabricated by the Armenians?
T.A.: Yes, these are the memoirs of Naim Efendi and the telegrams he gave to [Aram] Andonian, which everyone regards as fake or, if they find them legitimate, do not speak up about it.
Agos: There has to be a backstory of these documents.
T.A.: Yes, there is. In 1921, an Armenian intellectual by the name of Aram Andonian published these memoirs and telegrams in Armenian, titled The Great Crime. A French translation, as well as a terrible English summary (The Memories of Naim Bey), had already been published in 1920. The Great Crime contained the memoirs of the Ottoman bureaucrat Naim Efendi along with some secret documents that he provided. Andonian claims that he got ahold of these documents in exchange for money.
This book is actually unlike a classic memoir. Naim Efendi transcribed around 50 or so Ottoman documents, while adding his own memories and comments in annexes. Furthermore, Naim Efendi gave Andonian 20 additional documents in their original form. Fourteen of these were featured in the Armenian publication. From a note written by Andonian, we know that this exchange or purchase of documents took place in early Novermber 1918. I included this document in my own book as well.
Agos: What is written in these telegrams?
T.A.: In some telegrams, especially those that are said to belong directly to Talat Pasa, there are outright and direct orders to exterminate Armenians. For example, in a telegram dated Sept. 22, 1915, Talat Pasa gives “ …the order that all of the Armenians’ rights on Turkish soil, such as the rights to live and work, have been eliminated, and not one is to be left—not even the infant in the cradle; the government accepts all responsibility for this [situation]”
On Sept. 29, 1915, he sent a telegram to the Aleppo Province, saying, “You were already previously informed of the official decision taken by the Committee [of Union and Progress] that all Armenians within Turkey should be completely extinguished and annihilated… Regardless of the severity of the measures and without regard to women, children, and handicapped persons, all should be exterminated without any consideration for feelings of guilt.”
I have to add that the pictures of these original documents provided in Andonian’s book consist solely of numeric codes. The texts of these codes telegrams are provided in the Naim Efendi memoir.
Agos: But aren’t these telegrams fakes? Hasn’t it been proven that they are?
T.A.: Until my book, it was thought so. The reason for this was the book The Talat Pasha “Telegrams”: Historical fact or Armenian fiction?, published in 1983 by Şinasi Orel and Süreyya Yuca. Orel and Yuca claim in their book that the memoir and documents published by Andonian are fake.
Agos: How do they back up this claim?
T.A.: Their thesis rests on three main claims: 1. There was no Ottoman official by the name of Naim Efendi; 2. A nonexistent man can also not have a memoir; 3. Both the telegrams belonging to Talat Pasha and those of others are all fakes—that all of these documents were fabricated by Andonian and the Armenians.
With regards to the third claim, they present 12 additional claims. The most important of these are the following: a. the dates on the documents are wrong; b. the record numbers and the dates on the documents do not match the ones that are present in the incoming-outgoing document ledger that was maintained by the Interior Ministry; c. the signatures on the documents are fakes, especially those of Governor Mustafa Abdülhalik; d. the documents use lined paper and the Ottoman bureaucracy did not use lined paper; e. the numerical code that employs groups of two or three digits used in the documents are complete fabrications, because at that time, groups of four or five digits were being used to code messages.
Orel and Yuca’s claims appear to be very strong and convincing. Especially because in those years, the sources the authors were using—such as the Prime Ministerial Ottoman Archive and the Archives of the Office of the Commander in Chief (ATASE)—were largely unattainable. The Ottoman archives were undoubtedly open to the public, but the documents relating to this period had not been cataloged yet and were not available; the ATESE archive was closed to the public and for a large part still remains so.
Moreover, I need to add that Andonian took the documents he received from Naim Efendi and brought them to Paris when he moved there later in life. There, he left them at the Boghos Nubar Pasha library, at which point, however, the documents were lost (most likely after 1950). Today, we do not know where these documents are.
The Andonian book—with Naim Efendi’s memoir and the Talat Pasha telegrams—which had been used as an important source until Oral and Yuca’s book, became untrustworthy because of its “false claims,” and thus ceased to be used. More importantly, Orel and Yuca accused Aram Andonian and the Armenians with fraud, forging documents and committing a sort of “crime.” In later years, the book became one of the most important instruments for the anti-Armenian hate discourse. It was used for justifying an intensive campaign of defamation and abasement. It continues to be used as such.
Agos: So are you then claiming in your book that Orel and Yuca were wrong and that this memoir and the telegrams are real?
T.A.: Yes, Orel and Yuca’s claims about Naim Efendi and his memoir are definitely wrong. Throughout my research I have discovered some serious new information and documents. I can summarize them as following:
There was in fact an Ottoman officer named Naim Efendi; the original Ottoman documents that prove this exist, and I have published these documents in my book. In fact, let me share a piece of information that will be of much interest to you. One of the documents that proves the existence of an officer named Naim Efendi was published by the Millitary Archive (ATASE). Perhaps without even realizing, the ATASE, in one of its published books on the Armenian issue, also published a document that contains the original signature of Naim Efendi. This document can be viewed in my book.
There is a memoir that belongs to Naim Efendi; the microfiche copies of this memoir, which he wrote in Ottoman in his own handwriting, are currently in my possession; in my book I present these pages as they are. Here is another additional and important piece of information that I can present: Andonian did not publish the entirety of Naim Efendi’s memoir—he only used some selections. There are parts of the memoir that have never before been published, which now, through my book, will for the first time see daylight and be available to readers everywhere. Another interesting matter is that some parts of the memoir that Andonian did publish are now missing. This means that the Naim Efendi memoir that I now have, is missing some of the pages that Andonian had originally published. I discuss in great length why this is so. The missing pages of the memoir must be in the Military Archive (ATASE).
The Naim Efendi memoir is genuine and the information it provides is correct. It is possible to find documents in the Ottoman archives referring to the same events and people as the memoir does. Let me give an example: In one of the parts of the memoir that is published for the first time in my book, Naim Efendi names three Armenian deportees and provides the following information, paraphrasing: “Istanbul sent us orders with regard to them, telling us to keep them in Aleppo and to not deport them. But the Governor sent them away and even some perished.” Naim Efendi does not provide any documentation of this order and is simply retelling from his memory. I found the telegram referring to these Armenians in the Ottoman Archives myself. I researched nearly ten similar cases and found a supple amount of documents regarding the events described in Naim Efendi’s memoir. This shows us that Naim Efendi’s memoir is genuine and that the matters that he discusses are not a fabrication at all, but in fact represent the truth.
The foundational theses put forth by Oral and Yuca regarding the fakeness of the Talat Pasha telegrams, such as the lined paper issue and especially the coding techniques, are wrong. Oral and Yuca’s claims are complete fabrications and are untrue. For this reason, we have to regard the telegrams as real until the key code notebooks are published.
Agos: What is the lined paper issue?
T.A.: There is a picture in Andonian’s book, which depicts a telegram sent from the director of the Deportation Office, Abdülahad Nuri to the Internal Ministry on March 20, 1916, and which employed a two-digit numerical code. In this document, the digits were written on lined paper. Orel and Yuca claim that the use of lined paper indicates that this document is a fake. Because, according to them, the Ottoman bureaucracy did not use lined paper, and thus the document is a fake.
This claim is absolutely ridiculous. Because, during this particular time period the Ottoman bureaucracy did use lined paper and there are lots of documents in the Ottoman archives that show that the Internal Ministry’s numerous agencies were ordering lined paper. The most important of these documents is dated Nov. 2, 1913, and consists of an order that was sent to all regions. This order specifically requested that all codified telegrams would be written on lined paper. The telegram says things to the effect of “Some regions’ codified telegrams are written in very condensed lines; this often results in the lines getting mixed up and thus mistakes are made; in order to prevent such errors and additional correspondence to fix the mistakes, from now on please use lined paper and then send it to the telegram office.” As such, Orel and Yuca’s claims are wrong and, on the contrary, the fact that this document was written on lined paper is evidence of its genuineness.
Agos: So, what did you mean by the codification techniques? Can you elaborate?
T.A.: The Ottoman Government used numerical codes consisting of various different digit groupings to send its orders via telegram to the various regions. The texts used a series of two, three, four, and five-digit codes. The telegrams that Naim Efendi sold to Andonian consist of two and three-digit codes. Orel and Yuca claim that during the war years, the Ottoman government only used coding techniques that consisted of four and five-digit codes. Thus, they said, Naim Efendi’s telegrams are fake. Furthermore, according to Orel and Yuca, one coding technique was emplyed only for a period not exceeding six months and was then subsequently changed; and in this time frame, only one digit grouping was used, not others. The examples they give are that between Aug. 26, 1915, and Dec. 11, 1915, only five-digit groups were used, and that around March 1916, only four-digit groupings were used. Not one word of this is true.
I personally looked at over 20,000 different documents in the Ottoman Archives belonging to this particular time period. The reality is in complete opposition to Orel and Yuca’s claim. Throughout 1914-1918, various selections of two, three, four, and five-digit goupings were used at complete random. The authors’ claims of “very strict time frames and every time frame having one digit grouping” are a true fabrication.
Agos: What you say could demonstrate that Orel and Yuca’s claims were wrong; but it does not prove that Talat Pasha’s telegrams are genuine.
T.A.: What you say is both true and false: first of all, I clearly demonstrate that Naim Efendi’s two and three-digit groupings are consistent with Ottoman coding techniques. There is no sign of fraudulence in this regard. I found other telegrams in the archives from this time period that also used two and three-digit groupings, and have provided their examples in my book. Now, the question that arises is the following: can Naim Efendi’s telegrams, despite being in accordance with the codification techniques of that time, still not be fakes? And how can we figure this out? It is very simple. Someone has to publish the relevant key code notebooks, and the issue will be solved.
Agos: How do you mean?
T.A.: The Ottoman Government created a separate key book for each digit grouping’s codification technique and sent these, when the time came, to each region before the start of its employment. There are correspondences to such effect, such as “we sent it, did you receive it?” “No, we did not,” or “Yes, we received it,” etc.
Each region’s officer in charge would use these notebooks to decode the messages received from Istanbul by matching the code in the telegram to the appropriate notebook. We know that these key code notebooks are in the archives. For example, I have in my possession such a notebook, which provides the keys to a three-digit grouping code used in 1914. However, the keycode notebooks for 1915-1917 are not accessible for researchers. Those who claim that Naim Efendi’s telegrams are fakes will only have to publish these notebooks, and the discussion will be over. Then we would see if they were fakes or not.
However, until these notebooks are published, we have to work under the assumption that these documents are originals. This is because the things that are being said about their fakeness are wrong. Perhpaps it is for this reason that the key code notebooks are not available for researchers. Maybe they will prove that the documents are real and they are kept secret for this reason. Who knows?
Hence, until these notebooks are released, whatever we say is pure speculation. Those who believe they are fakes have to come forward and publish the notebooks.
Agos: What about the other claims? Regarding the signatures, dates, etc.?
T.A.: The fakeness of Talat Pasha’s telegrams containing the anihilation orders and the fakeness of Aleppo Governor Mustafa Abdülhalik’s signature are two separate issues… they are two separate documents. What I mean is that it is possible that the Talat Pasha document is real and the signed document is fake; or it is possible that the signed document is real and the Talat Pasha document is fake. We have to discuss each document separately. Of course, the mistakes in dates or signature inconsistencies of other various documents outside of Talat Pasha’s orders to anihilate Armenians could be debated, and will be debated. However, I think this is enough excitement for now; let’s leave those topics to another time… I think that first, everything I have said up until now has to be digested.
Agos: What is your expectation?
T.A.: The fact that Naim Efendi did not exist, that he did not have a memoir, and that the telegrams belonging to Talat Pasha are fakes were some of the most important cornerstones of denying the events of 1915. Of course, the denial of the events in 1915 will not end; however, denialists need to find themselves new lies to spew. Yet, let us not forget that the denial of 1915 does not rest upon the lack of evidence. Over the years, the academic world has produced enough publications based on facts that show the genocidal intent of the Ottoman authorities very clearly.
The denialism of historical truth is a policy, it is a preference—a choice rather than a rational argument. For this reason, regardless of how many documents we publish regarding the truth of what happened, a denier will always find new things and continue to deny.
This is an endless game.
For this reason, I believe that the government will continue to support those that defend their version of history, and thus will continue to sing the same tune. This book, however, tears down the most important cornerstone of the wall of lies that has been built for the past. I think that those who defend the official rhetoric should start finding themselves new excuses outside of the Naim Efendi memoir and the Talat Pasha telegrams.
My actual expectation is with regards to a different matter. I expect an apology for the Armenians. I’m expecting those who have, until this day, used the memoir and the telegrams as an excuse to rationalize the unfounded blaming, accusation and hatred of Armenians to apologize to them. It is my opinion that to demand this is our right.
As I demonstrate in my book, there was no falsification committed by neither Andonian, nor any other Armenian. Andonian only published whatever was given to him, and even that only in part. Therefore, I am expecting an open and sincere apology from those who have, since 1983, taken these claims of falsification as fact and used them to justify committing hate crimes and to throw unfounded accusations against the Armenians.
I would like to state that for my part, I will refuse to discuss this topic with any such individual who has not formally apologized to the Armenian community.
The Armenian Diaspora and its future
Vicken Cheterian 09.22.2016
There is a growing pessimism towards the future of the Armenian Diaspora. "It has no future," we often hear. "The Armenian can not survive away from his homeland," is often repeated. "We will finally be assimilated" is the conclusion. The answer suggested is that the Diaspora "returns" to their homeland, to Armenia. Or else, they will be assimilated.
The large Armenian Diaspora is passing through radical transformation, and is facing unprecedented challenges. The demographic weight of the Diaspora is moving away from the traditional Middle East countries where Genocide survivors created new communities in the 1920s. Instability and lack of security in Egypt in the 1950s, Lebanon during the war 1975-1990, the Islamic revolution in Iran 1979, Iraq’s long wars under Saddam Hussein. The same is happening now in Syria where the Armenian districts of Aleppo and the Armenian town of Kessab turned into battlefields.
This permanent instability of Near Eastern countries that emerged from the fall of the Ottoman Empire is pushing Armenian communities away from the region where they lived for millennia to new horizons. The same is happening to the population of Armenia. The Karabakh conflict and the economic difficulties caused massive population displacement. Far away California or Moscow today has larger Armenian population than Beirut or Gyumri.
Demographic shifts accelerated pre-existing developments. Two main identity characteristics, which defined the Armenian identity for ages, have lost their influence. Affiliation to the Armenian Church or one of the Armenian confessions for centuries was the primary reference to Armenianness. However, the process of secularisation that already started in the 19th century brought to the decline in the importance of the church. In the 20th century Armenian language replaced the gap that evolved by becoming the marker of the Armenian identity, through a series of diaspora institutions, like schools, newspapers, literature clubs, charitable associations. However, recently we have witnessed a sharp decline of Western Armenian usage, to the extent that UNESCO has placed it on the list of endangered languages.
Demographic shifts of Diaspora communities, the decline of the importance of the Armenian Church, dwindling numbers of Western Armenian speakers, are serious challenges. But all this is not unprecedented, if one takes into consideration Armenian history. On the contrary, most of these challenges have been always with us for at least the last millennium. The fall of Ani to the Byzantine armies, followed by Seljuk invasions, the 13th century earthquake that destroyed Ani, Shah Abbas and forced displacement of Julfa population towards his capital, Isfahan. The centennial is still fresh in our memory about the type of threats to Armenian existence that started under Abdul Hamid and reached genocidal level under the Committee of Union and Progress.
Armenian existence has never been taken for granted. Different communities have been constantly forced to migrate. Each migration obliged them to redefine their identity, their existence. How to find a new economic role under new conditions and preserve contacts with the old country?
Therefore, this new wave of pessimism towards the Diaspora should have a different cause. For a millennium the weight of Armenian identity, culture and economic development was based in the Diaspora communities. Far away cities become centers of Armenian life: Isfahan, Venice, Madras, Tbilisi, Beirut and others were reputed as capitals of the Diaspora. What is new is the appearance of the Armenian statehood. After the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991) the appearance of the Republic of Armenia introduced a fundamental change within the internal universe of Armenianhood. Instead of having a network of communities, since 1991 we have a strong center, which is the government of Armenia. Today, the Ararat valley has become the uncontestable center of new Armenian life. It is a land where Armenian is spoken, and Armenian culture develops. Since 1991 Armenian communities throughout the world transferred their attention and efforts towards that center, towards Yerevan, to help the young statehood born in difficulties: the consequences of 1988 earthquake, war in Karabakh, blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey, etc. This massive effort to help the young state came with a price: the weakening of Diaspora institutions from where material resources were diverted towards Armenia.
Every Armenian who lives in the Republic of Armenia, is faced by two-three which live in the Diaspora. Outflow from Armenia is superior to repatriation towards the homeland. In other words, those who claim that the Armenian identity is linked to Armenian homeland have to face this powerful reality; this outmigration cannot be ignored.
There is another fundamental problem that is the assumption that Armenians can live only in a "nation-state”. The Armenian people have lived for centuries in political systems that were not nation-states. To see the future of Armenians through a nation-state version is very poor indeed, if we look at it in perspective of our history. In the age of post-modern the Armenian Diaspora is already a mature international, global network. Moreover, the Armenian nation-state that we have is the product of post-Soviet developments, a very poor version in itself. Today, having a land-based anchor in itself is neither necessary nor sufficient condition for the survival of social groups. In the age of globalization international networks are replacing the former nation-states. Isn’t the Armenian Diaspora a similar network forged under the pressure of millennia?
However, the Diaspora will not survive long if we continue to ignore its needs. Armenian Diaspora organizations should lead modernization efforts, to be able to serve our future, not our past. We need to develop new institutions that can inspire new generations in their new needs, so that they find positive values in the Armenian identity and culture. A quarter of a century after Armenia’s independence it is time so that the Diaspora and its needs becomes once again the center of our preoccupations.
“With an unrestrained access to the archives in Ankara, we can gain a much better understanding of German responsibility”
Fatih Gökhan Diler 06.17.2016
We talked to Hilmar Kaiser, one of the prominent researchers who work on the Armenian Genocide, about Bundestag's resolution and Germany's responsibility. Kaiser said: “It was not 'the Ottoman Empire' or 'Turkey' or 'the Turks' or 'the Kurds' who killed the Armenians. Let us identify the culprits and praise the rescuers.
The debates on the Armenian Genocide resolution, which was passed by Bundestag on June 2, continue. However, there is not much interest in the content of the resolution. While Turkish media covers the issue as a showdown between two countries, the ones who read the resolution are aware of the fact that this resolution doesn't have the purpose of accusing Turkey, rather it is about Germany's confrontation with its own past. So, what is this German complicity? We talked to Hilmar Kaiser, who has been working on the Armenian Genocide for almost 30 years, about Bundestag's resolution and Germany's responsibility. His book “The Extermination of Armenians in The Diarbekir Region” is the first case study on this subject based on Ottoman archives that have been never used so far.
Are you surprised by the decision of Bundestag?
Not at all. Following last year’s statements of German President, Mr. Gauck and the President of the German Parliament, Dr. Norbert Lammert, as well as the statements of many other leading deputies, the only remaining question was when the resolution would be passed by the parliament. After all, this decision also reflects a broad consensus among German historians as well as within the German public at large.
Does the Bundestag’s resolution differ from those that were passed by other parliaments around the world?
source: Deutsche Bank, History Institutesource: Deutsche Bank, History Institute
On Oct. 30, 1915, railroad director Franz J. Günther reported to Bank director Arthur von Gwinner remarking sarcastically: Enclosed I send you a little photo, showing the Anatolian Railroad as an upholder of culture in Turkey. These are our so-called sheep-carts in which for example 880 people are transported in 10 carts.
The Bundestag’s decision stands out as it addresses the German role during the extermination of Armenians. There was a considerable German involvement in the Ottoman Empire at the time. Germany and the Ottoman Empire were allies during World War I. Thus, Germany maintained a sizable diplomatic and consular service as well as a military mission in Ottoman Turkey. Moreover, German private investments and missionary activities further deepened relations.
The German military mission was tasked with assisting in the modernization of the Ottoman armed forces. Thus, German officers served in leading positions at the Ottoman General Staff and with all Ottoman armies. Moreover, two large German war ships and their crews entered Ottoman service in the fall of 1914. You might be surprised to learn that the files of the Ottoman General Staff are to a large extent bi-lingual. Orders and reports were written and shared in two languages, Turkish and German.
Were these officers involved in the anti-Armenian policies?
Yes and no. Generally, the German military tried to avoid any involvement in deportations or persecutions of Armenians. However, individual officers saw this differently and for their own reasons participated. Wolfskeel killed Armenians during the siege of Urfa. He personally commanded the charge on the Armenian quarter with a gun in his hand. This was, however, not condoned by his German superiors and he was recalled. Another officer, Böttrich, headed a military commission which prepared a memorandum. This document was to form a guideline for the deportation of Armenian railway personnel employed by the Anatolian and Baghdad Railway Companies. The deportation order was, however, never given. Other officers assisted Armenian deportees and provided aid also in the Syrian desert. In general, our knowledge about the German military’s role is rather limited as the German army archives were bombed and destroyed in 1945. Thus, a conclusive assessment is not possible at this time.
When will it be possible?
It all depends on President Erdogan. If he grants scholars, including Germans, unrestrained access to the Turkish military archives in Ankara, I am confident we can gain a much better understanding. After all, the original or a copy of all German reports are kept there.
I had some limited access to these archives and obtained a few documents of minor importance. However, I saw that the original files have been preserved. It is a very well maintained collection.
What was the attitude of the German diplomats?
source: German Foreign Office Political Archivessource: German Foreign Office Political Archives
Like the military, the German diplomats were first of all interested in stabilizing the alliance. Keep in mind, Germany had suffered crushing defeats in 1914. One could argue that the war was lost for Germany by October 1914. Thus, the Turkish alliance was a life-line. Each Entente soldier fighting the Ottoman Empire could not fight on the German fronts. It was that simple. In this situation, the Armenian deportations and massacres were an unwelcome irritation.
Germany filed some weak protests while at the very same time organizing Ottoman denial of the atrocities. Dr. Mordtmann, the head of the embassy’s Armenian desk, drafted the blue-print for the Ottoman Empire’s denial. Moreover, German embassies in neutral states disseminated Ottoman propaganda materials which often had been printed in Germany. They did this despite they knew the truth perfectly well.
So, the diplomats did not help the Armenians.
Many consular officials tried their best to help Armenians, at times disregarding their instructions. People like Scheubner-Richter, Rössler, and Büge opposed the Foreign Office’s and embassy’s policy and tried to bring about a change. Similarly German business circles sounded the alarm. Especially the Deutsche Bank repeatedly intervened with the German government.
Strong pressure especially from business circles, the Catholic and Protestant churches as well as mounting concerns within the German Foreign Office about Germany’s reputation began to bring about some cautious change. A new German ambassador, Metternich, filed energetic protests and demanded a drastic change in policy. However, Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg infamously decreed: “Our sole object is to keep Turkey on our side until the end of the war, no matter if Armenians perish over that or not.” This decision was definitive.
Did all Germans accept this decision?
Not at all, the Deutsche Bank fought for its Armenian employees and saved most of its regular staff. Only at Ankara a larger number of Armenian staff members were butchered on the order of Atif [Bayindir]. The bank authorized secret aid payments to the deportees and even threatened to obstruct the transport of military supplies if its men would be touched. The Armenian Patriarchate thanked the company for its support after the war.
What about the missionaries?
The two larger German missionary associations active in the Ottoman Empire were in fact very international. Many Scandinavian and Swiss volunteers were working together with Armenian staff at their schools, workshops, and orphanages. These institutions served primarily Armenian communities. In 1915 some of these institutions were destroyed or closed. Others lost most of their students. Still, the German embassy secured the survival of many Armenian staff members. Equally important was a cooperation with American missionaries. Thus, when Armenians in Aleppo and other places began organizing relief work for the deportees they could rely on the support from this international missionary network. In fact, most of the work done which would later become known as Near East Relief was started by Armenians and protected by German and American consuls.
Different actors had different interests and agendas. However, in the final analysis it was Bethmann Hollweg’s decision that defined German responsibility in connection with the extermination of the Ottoman Armenians.
What does that mean?
Modern Germany as the legal successor of the German Empire (1871-1918) has inherited a legal and political responsibility for the acts of its predecessor. While the German government as such did not participate or welcome the murder of the Armenians, it looked the other way because this was thought to be in Germany’s interest. Now, in 2016, the Bundestag addressed this very black page of German history and apologized.
The resolution is not a condemnation of Turkey. It is Germany facing its own history.
And what does this mean for Turkey?
If Germany, after all the wartime ally of the Ottoman Empire, recognizes the Armenian Genocide it becomes much harder to make a credible argument in support of genocide denial. In this perspective, the resolution has an entirely different quality than other resolutions.
As for the next step, the current situation is very heated and it needs to cool down a little. At the same time, President Erdogan has called for more research. This is a welcome suggestion, provided the military archives are opened. Also it is important that the good work at the Ottoman archives is continued and more material made available.
Could the archives you mentioned change the overall picture?
I doubt it. The archival evidence is already very solid and clear. However, we get a better understanding of what happened and this in detail. We will see who were those men and women who protected victims. Many Ottoman officials opposed their own government and saved Armenians, most notably Djemal Pasha, Aleppo governors Celal and Bekir Sami Beys, Mosul acting governor Haidar Bey, Zor governor Ali Suad Bey, 5th army corps acting commander Halil Recai Bey, Hasan Amdja, Huseyin Kazim Kadir, General Kazim Dirik. The list goes on and on. In sum, it was not “the Ottoman Empire” or “Turkey” or “the Turks” or “the Kurds” who killed the Armenians. Let us identify the culprits and praise the rescuers. There were many people Turkey can be proud of.
Turkey-Armenia Travel Grants
Next Deadline: Nov, 2016
You can also submit an application during any of the rounds below:
9th Round: 24 November 2016-10 December 2016 (45 grantees, 29 from Turkey, 16 from Armenia)
10th Round: 24 February 2017-10 March 2017 (45 grantees,
29 from Turkey, 16 from Armenia)
1.Hrant Dink Foundation established the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant in February 2014 with a view to increase direct contacts and to promote cooperation between the peoples of the two neighbouring countries within the framework of the programme Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process financed by the European Union. Thanks to the European Union funding, the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant issued 5 open calls from March 2014 to May 2015, received more than 850 applications and supported the travels of 210 individuals.
2.Turkey – Armenia Travel Grant continued to receive applications by announcing a 6th open call, jointly administered by the Hrant Dink Foundation and the Gyumri ‘‘Youth Initiative Centre’’ NGO (YIC) based in Gyumri, Armenia, with the joint financial assistance of the British Embassy Ankara and British Embassy Yerevan. In the 6th round, Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant received more than 160 applications and supported the travels of 26 individuals from July 2015 to September 2015.
3.In 2016-2017, Hrant Dink Foundation will administer the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant with the financial assistance of the European Union within the framework of the programme Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process Stage II, in collaboration with the Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) and Gyumri “Youth Initiative Centre” NGO (YIC) in Armenia.
4.Thanks to the European Union funding, the Travel Grant will finance the travels of at least 180 individuals from July 2016 to July 2017. In this timeframe, the Travel Grant aims to support 116 individuals travelling from Turkey to Armenia and 64 individuals travelling from Armenia to Turkey. In the meantime, Hrant Dink Foundation will continue to seek additional funding. In case additional funds are secured, the number of Travel Grant will beneficiaries will also increase.
Who Can Benefit From the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant?
5.Any individual holding citizenship of Armenia or Turkey, any individual legally residing in Armenia or Turkey, any non-profit group, initiative or organisation based/registered in Armenia or Turkey will be eligible to benefit from the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant. Groups and initiatives without legal entity can also benefit from the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant.Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant primarily targets to support youth initiatives, university students, university clubs, civil society organisations, professional organisations, high school students and teachers, academics, researchers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, , publishers, artists, sports clubs, sportsmen and sportswomen, businesses, local authorities, for their travels within the scope of eligible field and type of activities.
a.Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant will support eligible actions in various thematic fields such as -but not limited to – civil society, youth and volunteering policies, human rights and democracy, education and training, environment, history, culture and arts, development, gender, medicine, law, technology, sports, regional cooperation and European integration.
b.Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant will support travels of individuals and groups who are organising or attending various types of eligible activities such as partnership building and networking, feasibility visits, cross-border projects, project preparation meetings, exchange programmes, trainings, language learning, academic cooperation, research and dissertation, voluntary service in civil society organisations, joint artistic productions; as well as organizing or attending panels, seminars, conferences, workshops, exhibitions, concerts and similar activities in any of the thematic fields above.
6.There is no age limit for the applicants who would like to receive Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant support. Those who are under the age of 18 –the age of legal maturity in Armenia and Turkey-will be required to submit the approval of their parents, legal custodians or teachers along with their application and should be accompanied by an adult above 18.
Who Cannot Benefit from the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant?
7.Trips of profit-making organisations, commercial enterprises, and businesses for the purpose of selling their goods and services, trips by political parties, and touristic and personal visits, including visits for medical reasons will not be eligible.
8.Visits by the staff, members and boards members of the Hrant Dink Foundation as well as the collaborating organisations Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) and Gyumri ‘‘Youth Initiative Centre’’ NGO (YIC) or travels from/to the activities of the mentioned organisations will not be eligible.
9. Visits by the Consortium members implementing the programme Support to the Armenia- Turkey Normalisation Process Stage II or travels from/to the activities of the Consortium members will not be eligible.
10.Visits by fellows who received the support of the Hrant Dink Foundation’s Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme in 2014-2015 will not be eligible.
11.Individuals who received the support of the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant in the previous 6 rounds are not eligible. Individuals who received the Travel Grant support in the previous 6 rounds, yet could not realize their travels due to force majeure are eligible to apply by submitting the same or a different application form.
12.An idividual can benefit from the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant only once. However, in case not awarded in the specific selection round, the same individual can apply more than once by submitting the same or a different application form.
13.The application has to be submitted by individuals. In case of group travels, all members of the group should submit individual applications by specifying the details of the group in the relevant part of the application form.
What Are The Costs Covered By The Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant?
14.The Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant will finance eligible transportation costs that can be documented (plane, train, bus tickets). The Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant will only cover economy class tickets and means of public transport.
15.The costs arising from the eligible domestic and international means of transport that will be used during the travel will be directly paid to the relevant airline company or travel agency by the Hrant Dink Foundation. Grantees’ tickets will be delivered by the Hrant Dink Foundation.
16.In cases where it is not possible for the Hrant Dink Foundation to directly book and pay for tickets, in particular for inter-city transportation such as Yerevan-Gyumri and Yerevan-Tbilisi travels, the Travel Grant beneficiary may need to pay for these expenditures himself/herself. In such cases, the Travel Grant beneficiary may request reimbursement from the Hrant Dink Foundation. The reimbursement requests may be approved by the Hrant Dink Foundation provided that they fulfil the following criteria:
a.The inter-city travel is made in economy class and by means of public transport.
b.All the legal documents, receipts, invoices certifying the inter-city transportation as well as the Travel Grant Activity Report are submitted by the Travel Grant Beneficiary to the Hrant Dink Foundation the latest within ten days after return to the home country.
17.The Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant will not finance the ineligible costs including visa costs, exit fees and duties, travel insurance or any other visit-related cost including as accommodation, food, e Such costs will be covered by the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant beneficiaries and/or the inviting persons or organisations.
18.Those who will be travelling to Armenia or to Turkey with the support of the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant are strongly recommended to arrange personal travel health insurance that will cover the entire duration of their stay. The sole responsibility to arrange the travel health insurance will lie with the grantee. Hrant Dink FoundationGyumri ‘‘Youth Initiative Centre’’ NGO (YIC), the Consortium members implementing the programme Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process Stage II and the European Union shall be by no means held responsible in case of any incident that may occur during the visit.
19.Contribution to the following overall objective will be the main selection criterion:
“to support civil society efforts towards the normalisation of relations between Turkey and Armenia and towards an open border by enhancing people-to-people contacts, expanding economic and business links, promoting cultural and educational activities and facilitating access to balanced information in both societies”
20.In addition to the selection criterion, applications that comply with the following qualities will be given priority.
a.Support for First Time Goers: Priority will be given to individuals who will be travelling to the neighbouring country for the first time.
b.Support for Local and Regional Activities: The Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant aims to mobilize individuals and organisations from major provinces as much as local area Local actions and travels from/to cities other than Istanbul and Yerevan will be given priority.
c.Diversity: Diversity of beneficiaries will be ensured in terms of gender, age, geographical area, thematic area, and type of activities.
d.Support for Youth: The Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant will be open to all age groups; however young people including high school and university students as well as youth groups will be given priority.
e.Support for New Initiatives: The Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant will support both registered civil society organisations that are experienced in certain fields as well as civic initiatives, which do not have legal entity. Civic initiatives and individuals with innovative ideas will be given priority.
f.Sustainability and Multiplier Effect: Travels that can reach out to more people, that can have greater impact in the long run, and that can contribute to the initiation of concrete partnership projects between Armenia and Turkey will be given priority.
21.All incoming applications for the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant are assessed by a Selection Committee in line with the selection criterion and priorities. The Selection Committee is made up of 6 members, 3 from Turkey and 3 from Armenia, out of independent, neutral and competent names. The members of the Committee are identified by the Hrant Dink Foundation. Selection Committee composition pays attention to gender equality. Selection Committee members will perform their functions voluntarily.
22.Members of the Selection Committee will assess all incoming applications from Armenia and Turkey through scoring. The scoring is done for both countries and not separately for Armenia and Turkey.
23.Members of the Selection Committee will have the right to veto.
24.Members of the Selection Committee will assess the incoming applications received for each period specified in the Selection Timeline within 7 days.
Vox Pops: Life as an Armenian in Turkey
Al Jazeera spoke with Armenians born and raised in Turkey about how they define themselves within the broader society.
Umut Uras, 23 April 2015
Istanbul - The population of Armenian Turkish citizens living in Turkey is unclear, with estimates ranging up to 70,000. With a legal minority status in Turkey as defined by the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 for all non-Muslim minority groups, they are entitled to "an equal right to establish, manage and control at their own expense, any charitable, religious and social institutions, any schools and other establishments for instruction and education, with the right to use their own language and to exercise their own religion freely therein".
To mark the 100th anniversary of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians - defined by Armenia as genocide, a claim the Turkish government denies - Al Jazeera spoke with Armenians who were born and raised in Turkey about their lives, experiences, and how they define and place themselves within the broader Turkish society.
Arman Duraduryan, 42, dentist, Istanbul
Armenians living in Istanbul are not often subjected to open discrimination. However, with certain gestures, particularly while dealing with state institutions, you feel that people look at you in a different way. You often find yourself wondering what people think about you.
Armenian and Muslim families are both protective in terms of mixed marriages. I am married to a Turkish Armenian and my family did not want me to marry a Turkish Muslim. I could convince them, but it would take a lot of effort. The same is valid for Muslim families most of the time. I don't feel any difference between my Armenian or Muslim friends. I have more secular Muslim friends than Armenians.
Under the Justice and Development Party government, the state institutions got much better in delivering cultural, religious and educational facilities to Armenians. They regularly renovate schools and churches. This was really hard in the past; there were many bureaucratic obstacles.
Although the government is making various gestures towards Armenia and Turkish Armenians, it will never recognise the genocide. The incidents of 1915 and the killing of Hrant Dink [a prominent activist/journalist killed by a Turkish nationalist in 2007] are two traumatic events that affect our identities.
Levon Bagis, 35, wine expert, Istanbul
I haven't come across any problems over my identity in my educational or professional life. However, I have been in various annoying situations in my daily life. During a photography trip we took, I told a person on duty at the site that I was Armenian. I still can't forget his reply: "Of course not." [This phrase is used in Turkish if one criticises or insults himself.]
One gets used to this sort of encounter over time. Our president said similar words when he was the prime minister. Armenians do not hide their identity, but prefer not to talk about it in public. When I was a child, my mother advised me not to call her "mother" in Armenian in public.
Our family is quite open. My older sister's husband is not Armenian and my parents did not take it in a negative way. The majority of my long-term friends are not Armenians. I don't feel different in my interactions with them.
Arno Kalayci, 22, law student, Istanbul
We come across discrimination in different contexts in our daily lives. When I was a child, I was harassed by other children because of my ethnic roots. That influenced my adolescence a lot. As I grew up, I have seen people like Hrant Dink, Sevag Balikci [an Armenian Turkish citizen killed while doing his mandatory military service in 2011] and Maritsa Kucuk [an 85-year-old woman stabbed to death in her house in 2012] being killed for the same reason.
The state does not help Armenian schools and churches. And vice principles at schools have to be Turkish Muslims by law - which is discriminatory. These people act as if they monitor potential treachery at schools.
I believe the government's policy on the genocide is not sincere. It is a presentable version of the decades-long denial policy.
Savas Arno Zanbakcioglu, 30, IT specialist, Istanbul
Not only Armenians, but any Turkish non-Muslim faces certain problems while living in Turkey. Professional life is a good example for this. You try not to use your name in certain environments. If people you are dealing with know you are a non-Muslim, your business opportunities decrease. During my mandatory military service, I preferred to use my second name [a Turkish name], instead of my real name.
I don't think the state contributes to Armenians much for us to perform our religious duties. I have not heard them building a new church or creating religious courses for non-Muslims in regular schools. This government polarised the society, so the love, tolerance and understanding we used to have in the past do not exist any more.
I, an Armenian living in Turkey, have always defined myself as a Turk. I consider myself a part of this society, instead of seeing myself as a member of a minority group. For this reason, I get on with my life and prefer not to be stuck in what happened in 1915. However, because of the polarising environment created by this government, for the first time in my life, I have considered moving to another country to raise my children there.
Norayr Olgar, 23, archive officer, Istanbul
Similar to all Armenians living in Turkey, I have experienced difficulties in my daily life due to my identity. However, the killing of Hrant Dink and Sevag Balikci as well as attacks in neighbourhoods where Armenians mostly live in Istanbul, show that Turkey is an insecure place for Armenians to live. Most Armenian mothers warn their children not to speak in their mother tongue.
The Turkish state continues with its denial policy regarding the genocide. Today, we see the same unfair mentality at courts in the cases of Hrant Dink, Sevag Balikci and similar ones. There are people who moved to many parts of the world because of what happened in 1915, losing their identities, forgetting their music and language.
In Turkey, non-Muslim Turkish citizens cannot get jobs at state institutions. And as a man, I wouldn't want to go to mandatory military service after the murder of Sevag Balikci.
Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme financed by the European Union 2016-2017
The Hrant Dink Foundation has established the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme in 2014 with a view to encourage cross-border affiliation and cooperation of professionals from the two neighbouring countries within the framework of the programme Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process financed by the European Union.
In 2014-2015, out of 91 applicants, with the available funding the Fellowship Scheme supported 12 fellows from Armenia and 6 fellows from Turkey for their activities in Istanbul, Yerevan and Gyumri. Please click here to read more about the past experience of the fellows and their host organisations.
In 2016-2017, the Fellowship Scheme will continue to offer 18 professionals from Armenia and Turkey the opportunity to live in the neighbouring country and follow a special programme at a specific Host Organisation for four to eight months. Individuals are also invited to propose their own project ideas, other than the fellowship opportunities offered by the listed Host Organisations.
The Fellowship Scheme will continue to support the activities in areas where further exchange of expertise and lasting cooperation is much needed, such as academia, civil society, media and communication, culture and arts, architecture and design, culinary, translation and interpreting/language-learning, law.
Who Can Apply?
• University students, academics and independent researchers
• Civil society workers
• Journalists, reporters, photojournalists
• Photographers, artists in residence, designers, architects, chefs
• Writers, translators
• Legal experts, public relations experts
• Any individual willing to propose his/her own project ideas
The Fellowship Scheme is open to applications from citizens and legal residents of Turkey and Armenia. The fellow candidates shall fill in the English Application Form the latest by August 11th, 2016 attach two reference letters and their CV, and send their applications to firstname.lastname@example.org. Before filling in and submitting your application, please read the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme Regulation, which includes the objectives and eligibility criteria. Hrant Dink Foundation will compile all incoming applications and will submit them to the relevant Host Organisations, which will then identify their preferred candidates.
With the available funding, the Fellowship Scheme will support 18 fellows. In case more than 18 fellow candidates are matched with Host Organisations, a Selection Committee with three members from Turkey and Armenia will determine the final 18 fellows. The Selection Committee members will function within their own capacity and with their own experience and judgments, their assessment can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the organisations they are affiliated with.
For further information and questions, you can contact the project coordinators Armenuhi Nikoghosyan, Anna Yeghoyan and Zeynep Sungur at email@example.com.
"Enemy is the one whose story we don't know"
"Learning Each Others Historical Narrative"
Gözde Kazaz 07.01.2016
"This model can be adapted to any educational system. For instance .. to the history of northern and southern Cyprus, history of Germany and the history of Armenians and Turkey"
With the deal made between Turkey and Israel, “humanitarian aid” to Gaza Strip is brought to the agenda once again. On the other hand, a joint Palestinian and Israeli project, which has been going on since 2002, tries to find a more permanent solution to the crisis in the region. The book titled as "Learning Each Others Historical Narrative" offers a new model for history textbooks used in Palestinian and Israeli schools. Project's co-director Sami Adwan told about this model.
"Learning Each Others Historical Narrative" is the kernel of a long-term project, which was initiated by Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME). Prof. Sami Adwan from Bethlehem University is the co-director of this project and thinks that reading the stories of others in the historical narrative can pave the way for peace.
Can you talk about the content of this project?
This projects is going on for 14 years and we completed the book. Now, we are training teachers and other professionals on how to use the book and the importance of multiple perspectives in history teaching. Teachers should avoid teaching from a single perspective.
Why is this important?
Because there is no one history; there are many historical narratives. Above all, teaching the other perspectives than your own should be considered as a part of child's rights. For children, it is important to see the bigger picture and to have multiple perspectives. Letting children learn different historical narratives means embracing pluralism and diversity and having a critical attitude concerning history. History includes criticism, discussion and interpretation. It shouldn't be about memorizing and answering the questions in the exams.
As a Palestinian living in West Bank, what was your motive for joining this project?
I was a child, when Israel occupied West Bank during Six-Day War in 1967. I witnessed all kinds of cruelty and violence. I had been beaten and detained many times and I spent 6 months in prison. And ultimately I realized that a violent approach cannot provide a solution for clashes between Palestine and Israel. Such an approach only prolongs the clashes and causes more suffering. We need to make children understand the both sides by creating a new educational system. What we are doing is like an attempt of making it more humane. When you read the story of the other, you realize how meaningless this 60-years-old conflict is. This is both a peace building project and a model for improving education. As a Palestinian living in an occupied land, I hope that this project will influence Israeli ideology and they realize that Palestinian people living in an occupied land have perspective, history, tradition and culture of their own. I am working for creating better conditions for my children and grandchildren; better conditions compared to my childhood and today.
People should be able to access history, regardless of who is right and who is wrong. In this way, people would see each other in a new light. Enemy is the one whose story we don't know.
How is the other dehumanized in the textbooks of Israel and Palestine?
In Israeli maps, only Israel is shown. They abstain from using words “Palestinian” and “Palestine”; they use “Arabs” instead. In the textbooks, Palestinian people are portrayed not as humans, but as a crowd ready to resort to violence. In the pictures, they are shown with camels and donkeys; with this, they imply that Palestinian people are leading a primitive life. For instance, Jerusalem is defined as the capital of Israel and this amounts to ignoring the rights of Palestinian Christians and Muslims on Jerusalem. These are different ways of dehumanization.
And how are Israeli people portrayed in Palestinian textbooks?
In Palestinian maps, there is no Israel. Palestinian people define Israeli people through what they have done. For instance, Israeli people are portrayed as the ones who stole Palestinian's water and territory. In Palestinian books, holy places of the Jews are not shown or mentioned.
Is your book distributed to the schools?
Ministry of education of both sides doesn't accept the book. Some teachers and schools use it with their own accord or they recommend it to the students. As a matter of fact, not the content but the model of the book is important. I mean, when a teacher talks about a holy place for Muslims, will he also talk about its meaning for Jewish history? Or vice verse. This is what matters for us.
Is this book used in other countries?
It is translated into English, German, French and Italian and used as a model in Macedonia. It is used in some schools in France, Spain, Italy and the US. This model can be adapted to any educational system. For instance, it can be adapted to the history of northern and southern Cyprus, history of Germany and the history of Armenians and Turkey. However, unfortunately, our model is not official locally. We cannot blame them, since it is not easy for officials to accept such innovative projects. When we started this project in 2002, we thought that it will be a post-conflict project, but then, the Second Intifada took place. And we continued working, knowing that this project, which was awarded internationally, won't be accepted in our own land.
It is so sad that we won't be able to see the influence of this project on Palestinian and Israeli children. Haven't you got any feedback?
There are some teachers who used this book in Palestine and they provided feedback. They say that the reactions of the students vary. Some said, “It is good to learn the story of the other side. It encouraged me to read about my history more. Now, I have a better understanding why they behaved like that.” And some other said, “We shouldn't read them. It is confusing and full of propaganda.” Of course this is not an easy process.
What is the future of this work?
We will prepare a new book. Palestinians don't talk about Holocaust and Israelis don't talk about Nakba Day. We will make a guide book about these matters. This is a process that can be defined as “learning from the traumas of the country”. This might give an idea about human rights violations and lifting of the blockage for both sides. I hope that Palestine will be free one day and live side by side with Israel. Education will make it possible; though its process is slower, it is a better way compared to politics. Firstly, with a peace-oriented education, we can raise a generation, which won't make the same mistakes with the previous generations. Secondly, this generation might support a peace treaty. Thirdly, people might put the pressure on the governments and show them this is not the right way. Ultimately, those people will govern the future.