Note: The conference on Armenian Genocide in Bosphorus University was
cancelled even before it started. Turkey's Minister of Justice labelled the
conference a stab in the back of Turkey. As you see even an academic
discussion of the Genocide could be a cause of threats and treason
accusations. We hope that in the near future the organizers will succeed in
holding this conference. Turkey cannot enter Europe if academic freedom is
victim of the public prosecutor's mood and disposition / Azad-Hye.
Subject: The Joint Declaration of the Conference Organizers and
Participants, 27 May 2005
The three day conference entitled 'The Otoman Armenians during the Era
of Otoman Decline' that we, as academics and public intellectuals of
Turkey, had planned with Bosphorus University as host was unfortunately
forced to be deferred as a consequence of pressures, threats and
We protest that two deputies serving under the roof of the Turkish
National Assembly, which is presumed to be the guarantor of scientific
activities, academic freedom and security of life and property, have
engaged in provocations that are totally in opposition to these
fundamental principles, and that the spokesperson of the government
incriminated all the conference participants by serious claims such as
'thrusting a knife into the nation's back.' We are additionally ashamed
that this spokesperson also carries the title of 'Minister of Justice.'
We think that it would be more appropriate for him to be utilized with a
duty outside of that of law and justice. We herewith notify the public
that this conference will be convened in the near future.
We organize this conference to seek answers to the question 'what
happened before, during and after 1915?' We attempt to understand and
recount a historical issue that during the last years has become trapped
and increasingly politicized between the radical Armenian national and
official Turkish theses.
Scientific meetings are not necessarily covered like television debates
conducted on certain issues. Scientific meetings also do not have the
prerogative to bring together all sides who are in opposition to one
another and who are also convinced of their own 'truths.' Furthermore,
the decision to determine who should comprise the participants of a
scientific conference is the most natural right of the hosts and the
most fundamental application of the freedom of thought that is supposed
to exist at universities. No one individual, organization and
institution has the right to intervene in a scientific conference
organized outside of its own body.
In addition, we find the unjust and prejudiced accusations made against
the not yet presented papers of a not yet actualized conference totally
unlawful. Had the actualization of this conference been tolerated, the
rich, varied and not at all monotonous approaches to the issue of what
happened before, during and after 1915 would have emerged.
We, the participants of this conference whose signatures are enclosed
below, want to especially point out, as we also noted on our press
release dated 17 May 2005, that ''The emergence of different, critical
and alternative voices, the demonstration of how Turkey actually
contains such a rich multiplicity of thoughts would be, once again, to
the utmost benefit of Turkey.' We believe that the actualization of our
conference in the very near future would be one of the most significant
steps taken in our country on the path to academic freedom, to the
independence of universities, and in general toward democracy.'