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Turkey tried to bar scholars from Armenian Genocide conference

Turkey tried to bar scholars from Armenian Genocide conference

PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkish authorities have attempted to prevent scholars based in Turkey from participating in a conference in Berlin titled “Past in the Present: European Approaches to the Armenian Genocide.”

The Workshop on Armenian-Turkish Scholarship (WATS) is a series of international academic workshops, founded at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan in 2000 as the “first forum where Turkish, Armenian, and other scholars could create a community of Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian, and other scholars to conduct an informed debate” relating issues surrounding the fate of Ottoman Armenians, an event generally accepted as the Armenian Genocide.

Despite the efforts of Turkish nationalists who deny the established facts of history, the latest workshop, the tenth in the series, took place on 15-18 September at the European Academy Berlin, co-organized by the University of Michigan, USC Dornsife Institute of Armenian Studies, and Lepsiushaus Potsdam, under the auspices of Dr. Martina Münch, Minister for Science, Research, and Culture of the State of Brandenburg.

The conference has come under sustained attack by Turkish ultra-nationalist political circles in Turkey and Germany. Long-time deniers of the Armenian Genocide in the international arena declared that the conference will “serve imperialism and the interests of Kurdistan” and framed the Kurdish issue as forming “the second Israel,” clearly an anti-Semitic slur.

"We consider that a democratic society requires a free exchange of ideas, and such pressure on academics in Turkey has already had a chilling effect on university scholars, who have in the last decades help to build up a high level of academic professionalism and achievement," said the Workshop for Armenian-Turkish Scholarship and the Lepsiushaus Potsdam in a statement.

"We demand as well that the Turkish state desist from interfering in intellectual exchange and expression outside of Turkey. There is no substitution for independent research and the presentation of research findings in academic settings and in scholarly meetings. These exchanges are fundamental to academic freedom. Such interference infringes on the democratic order in Turkey and in hosting countries."

Some three dozen countries, hundreds of local government bodies and international organizations have so far recognized the killings of 1.5 million Armenian in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. Turkey denies to this day.

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