MOSTAFA MINAWI: Hello, everybody. This is a great turnout. Thank you all for coming. It gives me great pleasure to introduce Professor Muge Gocek. I'll do that properly in a second.
But first, I would like to thank the co-sponsors of this event along with OTSI, the Ottoman-Turkish studies initiative. We have the Near Eastern Studies Department, the Einaudi Center for International Studies, and of course, the mother organization of the Ottoman Turkey Studies Initiative, Cornell Institute for European Studies.
Professor Fatma Muge Gocek, she's a Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on the comparative analysis of history, politics, and gender in the first and third worlds. She critically analyzes the impact on processes, such as development, nationalism, religious movements, and collective violence, on minorities.
Her published works are numerous. I'm going to focus on a few books. There's literally over 50. Her published works include East Encounters West: France and the Ottoman Empire in the 18th Century, Reconstructing Gender in the Middle East: Tradition, Identity, and Power, which was credited with Shiva Balaghi, Rise of the Bourgeoisie, Demise of Empire, Ottoman Westernization and Social Change, Political Cartoons in the Middle East, Social Construction of Nationalism in the Middle East, and finally-- well, not finally. This is the last one before the latest book-- A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire, which was co-edited with Ronald Suny and Norman Naimark.
FATMA GOCEK: Naimark.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: Naimark, thank you. And of course, the latest book, which is creating a lot of waves, this baby. Denial of Violence-- me and my class have been engaged in it for the last week. Denial of Violence is going to be the title of the talk as well, and the talk will be based on this book, which came out?
FATMA GOCEK: November of 2014.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: November 2014. Please help me welcome Professor Gocek.
FATMA GOCEK: Thank you very much. Let me get my water. I may need it. For having me here, Mostafa, and for enabling me to meet the people here and to share my work with them. It is a pleasure. The last time I was here was a decade ago at least when Mostafa's predecessor was here. Leslie Pearson, she invited me.
So this has been a very long book to write. I thought it was going to be an easy one. And as a sociologist, we usually write our books very quickly, but this thing took me 12 years to write. And therefore, I never realized when I got into it how contentious, and how politically difficult, and challenging it was going to write. But I'm delighted that I managed to finish and make some sense, at least, of what is going on.
What I want to share with you because the personal is political. And also, I think it is important for us not only to share with our audience our work, but also to share with them the process through which we came to write the work with it. And I am doing this because of the talks I've given on this topic. It's interesting that radical fractions from among both the Armenian and Turkish community claim that I'm Armenian, which is fascinating to me, sociologically that it is.
Turkish nationalists think that I must be Armenian because my blood is tainted one way or the other. Because no Turk in their right mind would say the things I'm saying. Armenians, likewise, think that I must be partially Armenian because they say that no Turk in their right mind would say the things I am saying. So it's interesting that both share the same. And as a consequence, I usually start my talk explaining how I came about writing on this issue. Because as you know, I didn't used to work on this. I started working on it, and I lost half of my friends and made new friends. And I also have lots of enemies and death threats. I have a very exciting life now.
So I thought it would be interesting to talk about how I came to write what I did, and it's fascinating because once I got tenure at Michigan, it was time for me to come up with-- there are some seats over here-- new book projects. Initially, I was going to write on the Islamist movement in Turkey because I thought, sociologically, that was an important issue. And I started looking into it. I went and interviewed many people, including Abdullah Gul, but this was in the '90s, where a lot of what happened was that a lot of the people who actually were part of the Islamists constantly had to put up with military coups. So whenever I presented my work on the Islamists, they said, well, if you want to study Islamists, you should study the Turkish military instead because it's evident that they are the ones controlling everything, not the Islamists, right?
So nobody in Turkey has studied the Turkish military and is still around to tell about it. So I figured that was not a good idea. And therefore, I decided not to do that, but I was very intrigued about the fact, why was it, I said, that Turkish society is so willing to accept military coup. Why is it that they have normalized or naturalized violence? And why is it that they cannot tolerate difference? These were the kinds of questions that I was asking myself.
And I, in order to come to understand it, I said, for violence to be such a big part of Turkish state and society, there must be a foundation of violence that was not accounted for, that became normalized into society, and that is why I started looking back in history since, obviously, dealing with contemporary politics in Turkey is not a very safe issue. I decided it was easier to go into history. It would be safer. Little did I know.
So when you look back, the most significant, of course, foundational violence is the Armenian Genocide that takes place from 1915 to '17. And that is the one violence that has not been accounted for still by the Turkish Republic. Instead, there is denial, and people argue that denial is the last step of genocide. And as a consequence, I said I have to study this violence because it is the major obstacle in front of Turkey in terms of its democratization, or lack thereof. That is how I chanced upon it. I usually start with that.
The problem was, though-- and that's why I start with the Turkish president, I go to the Ottoman past, and then, of course, I look at the collective violence against the Armenians. Then, the issue became, well, I did look at it, but when did this violence start, and when did it end? What was going to be the time frame within which I was going to study this violence?
When I looked at it, of course, before the 1915-17 genocide, there is the 1894-96 massacres that pre-date it. As a consequence, it was evident that this was happening before. And there are the 1909 Adana Massacre, so I started going back. How far back can you go? I decided to stop at 1789 not because it is the start of the French Revolution, although that would have been nice too. Instead, it is the coming to the throne of Sultan Selim III.
And what is important about Selim III's reign and thereafter is that this is when the Ottoman Empire starts to systematically modernize. And with modernization and modernity, I think things started to polarize, and communal rights that used to be the rights that protected a community, including the Albanian community as well as the two other non-Muslim communities of Jews and Greek Rum, they lost their communal rights. And instead, they had individual rights. And once they were given individual rights, they had to have state protection for those rights to sustain, and that state protection was immediately lifted, leaving them basically open to violence. And as a consequence of that, violence started. So that was my beginning point 1789, and modernity, and the polarization, and violence it led to.
With respect to the end point, I have been born and raised in Turkey, in Istanbul. And I knew from my own experiences that there was a lot of violence, symbolic violence, of course, not physical as much. But still, a lot of prejudice and discrimination against the Armenians. That effort has continued, basically, to this day. As a consequence, I tried to bring it as close to the present as I possibly could. And that is why I decided to stop at 2009 because it was a nice round number that gave me 220 years, and I had to stop sometime because I had to write the book. And that's why I stopped that 2009. And that is why that's the end point.
And I argue, then, the collective violence is not solely the 1915 phase, there is a beginning, and there is a continuation to this day. And how do I know that it is a genocide? Basically, what happens is that if you look at the population of the Ottoman Empire in around 1897, there are about 20% of the population is Armenian. Today, when you look at how many Armenians there are in Turkey, it's 0.2%. So obviously, we're talking about a very significant reduction. Had there not been genocide and gradual attrition that has continued from the imperial times into the republic, there ought to be about 20 million Armenians in Turkey today, and there are not. So that in itself demonstrates that there was a violent destruction, and this is the destruction that I wanted to focus on. And that's why I chose the dates I did.
And I should also share the fact that I never doubted that what happened was a genocide. That debate is past. That was a debate we used to have 10, 15 years ago. And to me, what was unfortunate was the fact that after the foundation of the Turkish Republic with Turkish nationalism and the centralisation of education in Turkey, history textbooks whitewash the past so that we growing up in Turkey had no idea what had happened to the Armenians, or the Jews, who were all basically destroyed at various junctures by the Turks. According to the textbooks, we were always innocent. We always had good intentions. And others were violent, but we weren't. And that, of course, is a telling of history that not only was there from the beginning, but continued to this day.
It was only after coming here for my dissertation work at Princeton that I started realizing that there was another history there. There was another past, and that had a lot of violence against the Armenians. As I started talking then and acknowledging what had gone on, I realized the damage that denial does to both Armenians and to the Turks as well, to both the victims and the perpetrators.
When one talks, as I did, to diaspora of Armenians especially, they would talk about 1915 as if it happened yesterday. I mean, the emotions and the idea is so close to them, and why? Because if you deny something, if you do not acknowledge it, the open wounds never heal. And because they don't heal emotionally, they are always with you. And unfortunately, over generations, it is that emotional wound that keeps being passed from one generation to the other.
And that is also what, in a way, not only draws away all the energy that people have, but it also undermines people's trust in humanity. You can no longer trust that humans are inherently good people because your own experience has demonstrated that somebody has done something evil and has gotten away with it. That, as a consequence, leads you to lose your hope in the future and in others. So that is the damage it has done Armenians, and I also know that there is a very strong, of course, psychological and emotional component. So I always start my talk this way.
I personally, as a ethnic Turk, a Turkish citizen, and a scholar personally I apologize for all the things that happened to you, and your ancestors, and all the pain and suffering you had to bear as a consequence. I am not guilty, but I am responsible. I am responsible to make sure that such injustice is one day righted. It is important to me, ethically and morally, to do that, and it is also important for me as a scholar to make sure that that happens. And that is why I am working on this myself.
I am also working on it because the lack of acknowledgment damages Turkish society as well, the perpetrators. And they also, in their way, because they got away with the violence that they undertook that they were never held accountable for what they did. They continued that destruction and that violent streak into the Turkish Republic and basically exercised and used it against other people, like the Kurds, [INAUDIBLE], women, and in general because the violence became also normalized in Turkish society, and the Turks themselves also do not believe in humanity and the goodness. And they don't trust it either because, in their case, what's fascinating is that what happens is that they think they can get away with anything, and they can get away with violence. So that is why they also do not trust. And they lose, as a consequence, their moral compass. And that is why the Turks need to come to terms with the past as well.
So these are the reasons why this is a very important issue for me and why I started working on it. What I will do now is I will take you through and explain within this context how I started. So if you look at the contested memories of 1915, what is sort of the issue here? The most significant one, of course, has to do with two different standpoints. On the one side, we have the contemporary Western scholarly community and the diaspora that argues this is one of the first genocides of the 20th century that occurred during 1915. I say '22 because some say '15 to '17, or '15 to '19, or '15 to '22. Basically, it's the end of the War of Independence. '23 is basically when the Turkish Republic is founded. With the intent to annihilate-- this is very important. There is an intent. The intent was annihilation, and there is also a lot of debate around that. And between 800,000 to 1.5 million Armenians, and 800,000 is the figure given at the time by the government, the Ottoman government, and 1 and 1/2 million is another estimate mostly by the survivors.
The standpoint of contemporary Turkish state and society was, instead, that it is not a genocide, but reciprocal Turkish and Armenian massacres. So there is this sort of assessing blame to both sides, the violence, and redistributing. Violence was unintentional destruction, of course, largely due to travel conditions of Armenians deported from the war front due to military security. This is usually what is said. Leading to, interestingly enough, 100,000 to 400,000 Armenian deaths and at least 1 and 1/2 million Turkish wartime deaths, which is, in and of itself, a miraculous figure because basically all the Armenians of the empire had to take on the Turks, including the women, children, and the elderly, for them to be able to kill that many Turks.
What is happening here is that basically-- I'll explain later-- they are equating the civilian deaths that the Armenians suffered with the wartime military deaths of soldiers that the Ottoman army suffered. So they are comparing not apples and oranges, but apples and Brussels sprouts or something that is totally uncomparable. But the important thing is even though all the different aspects, elements of the standpoint of contemporary Turkish state and society are not based on facts, why is it that they can still sustain this discourse to this day?
That is what I could not understand because I was born and raised in the republic. Of course, you could-- and this happened before the republic. So why didn't they say, hey, it happened in the past. We have nothing to do with it. We are the republic. Let's just move on, and sorry, and move on. Why cannot they apologize for something that's happened in the past? Why is it still with us to this day? So that is what I am-- I'll give the answer. Don't worry. I'm sure you know it too.
But why do Turkish state and society deny what happened to Armenians in 1915? What does this denial entail? When does it start, and when will it stop? So those are, of course, the questions that I was asking.
And what I tried to do is I tried to-- because it takes such a long time period, I said, what can I use to study this period? I could have used official state and government documents, and I do know Ottoman. I have worked in the Ottoman archives for my earlier books even though, of course, I see a lot of messages and whatever hate mail that says you know nothing about Ottoman. I mean, I was going to say, hey, do your homework. I mean, at least look to see what I've written and what sources I've used.
But, nevertheless, those documents themselves are socially constructed documents. They tell everything from the vantage point of the state, and they do not give any voice to the minorities, to those who are the victims. They, of course, privilege the standpoint of the perpetrators just in the way they are constructed.
I could have also looked at-- so I didn't look at them because I wanted to be able to see what the people thought rather than the state because I am not interested only in state denial. I am also interested in the denial of society. As a sociologist, to me, the complicity of society is much more intriguing and challenging than the other ones.
Turkish and minority literature is another way. There is a lot of Turkish literature that has not yet been studied with this project in mind. With respect to a lot of Armenian sources, ever since the end of the Cold War from like the year 2000 onwards, they have started translating Armenian literature. And I have written one or two articles on that. But there isn't enough to cover all 220 years yet.
Oral histories, accounts, and interviews promulgating, sort of in a way, distributing or claiming that a genocide happened in Turkey is legally actionable if you are a Turkish citizen living in Turkey with a prison sentence of 1 and 1/2 years. If you are a Turk or a citizen who makes these claims outside-- so-called claims-- outside of the country, it's three years imprisonment. If you are like me, a Turkish civil citizen living in another country, it's 4 and 1/2 years of imprisonment. So in a way, it is very hard to get any oral histories going, especially when there is such a statement or legal framework that actually inhibits it.
In spite of this, however, there are people like [INAUDIBLE]. No, Orhan Pamuk didn't actually, but yeah. He also acknowledged it. Nevertheless, these are starting to take place, but recently. They do not go back much either. So I decided instead to use contemporaneous mostly Muslim Turkish memoirs because these cover a very wide range, and they include all kinds of people.
So what I looked as I tried to look at all these memoirs that were written in Turkey in Turkish after the 1928 Latin script reform so that these were technically all material that was available to Turkish society had they chosen to read it, but they chose not to obviously. In order to do that, I decided in a moment of madness that I would look at all the memoirs that were ever published in Turkey in Turkish, which meant that I had to probably read about 700 to 800 memoirs. It's a good thing that I am a speed reader, so I can read a lot. All of those, I took copious notes of those that had information on minorities, and violence, and the combination of the two, and that is how I ended up with 300 plus memoirs.
I was brought up bilingual, so I can translate into English very quickly. So I took notes. I had 1,000 pages of single spaced notes on what I found in these. And I, of course, was also very careful to contextualize things across time and space, look at the impact of the past on the present, interacting of the internal and external forces. I didn't want to only say, it's the west, and let's look out elsewhere to understand what's going on in Turkey. Or I don't say it's only Turkey. The rest doesn't the matter. It's a combination of things. And most importantly, interface of structural and cognitive processes, and I'll explain what I mean by that later.
So what I did was analyze the course of Turkish, Ottoman Turkish history in relation to the contemporary denial of violence from 1789 to 2009, 297 memoirs I looked at, and 315 texts because many people wrote more than one memoir. What's interesting about it is most of this, about 85% of them, are memoirs of Turkish Muslim officials or officers. And among them, I have eight to 10 who are actually perpetrators themselves of the violence against the Armenians. And this is, of course, very interesting to be able to see what they had to say.
And in the process, what was very interesting is because I'm able to have so many memoirs, a lot of people self-censor themselves or silence themselves. And by putting it all together, I can see exactly what it is that they are not saying. So that was the beauty of using this as a puzzle to demonstrate what was and was not working.
What was my model? I thought that, as I said, modernity there led to the polarization of society. But what was important here is the public emotions because all societies are polarized, but rarely is there a jump to collective violence. And because of that, public emotions, collective emotions become very important in literally getting people to actually physically engage in violence. And in this jump, of course, the public emotions, nationalism is extremely important. Nationalism pits people against one another.
And then, what's fascinating is that after the violence occurs, you would expect people to say, hey, this was violence. Let's watch how we do about it. Rather than saying that and acknowledging publicly what happened, you instead have denial. So that is, of course, something that people haven't studied before. Why do they not acknowledge it? Why do they deny it instead?
And there, because I was looking at so many memoirs, I was able to see how they basically used and abused certain events to justify the violence against the Armenians, and that was why I was very interested to see how and why. They took many events out of context and used it as a way to continue their denial. And this is all 12 years, and this is what we get.
This is it basically. This is my model. So if you look at the violence against the Armenians, the red one, that is the most important. I start with the 1894-96 massacres. This, I say, is phase one, 1789 to 1907.
I say then second is 1915 to '17. I call it ethnic cleansing because that's how it's referred to in the literature. That's phase two. It's the Young Turks period, 1908-18. People have looked at this. Usually, very rarely do phase one.
I then continue into 1919 to '74. And there, 6-7 September 1955, pogroms are very important. Only about a dozen or two dozen people die, but they destroy all the property and goods non-Muslim minorities have, mostly the Greek Rum, but they also destroy the property and goods of Jews, and Greek Rum, and Armenians as well.
And then the final phase is '75 to 2009. And there, the 19th of January 2007 assassination of Hrant Dink is a very significant violence, I think, against the Armenians. Again, because to this day, the ones, the perpetrators, except for the one who pulled the trigger, have not been caught and brought to justice. So that I think there is still the continuation.
And what is really interesting is that in each case, there is a denial. The first denial is the denial of the domestic origins of the issue. The second one is the destructive intent of Armenian deportations. The third-- and this is probably the survival of perpetrators into the republic with impunity-- and the final one is the responsibility of violence against the Armenians.
If you look at the first one, the domestic origins, the denial occurs as such. Usually what happens is that with the reforms, especially with the 1839, '56, and '76 reforms, the Ottoman state promises equality to all its minorities, subjects who have become citizens. It fails to deliver it. It only allows the Armenians living in urban centers, mostly Istanbul and Izmir, to accumulate wealth through trade with Europe in so far as they remain apolitical. So that goes, and this is why I think there is so much hatred towards the Bolis Armenians because they were fine, and they sort of didn't really care what happened to the other Armenians living, especially in East Anatolia.
What happens in East Anatolia, instead, is because the Kurds are being settled in the 1850s, and the Kurds usurped literally the lands of Armenians that has been in Armenian use, especially belonging to monasteries and churches, mean for centuries, if not millennia because Armenians there are the oldest people in these lands, and these are their ancestral lands. Because of that, there is a lot of violence against the Armenians and impoverishment of Armenians in East Anatolia.
And so this in itself obviously demonstrates that the origins of the conflict is actually local, domestic. It started in East Anatolia. And if you look at the riots that occurred, they mostly occurred in East Anatolia. Then, they are brought to [INAUDIBLE] and to Istanbul when they do not get any acknowledgment.
But what is very important in that context is the 1896 Ottoman Bank takeover. The Ottoman Bank is a European bank with European partners. The manager is French. A group of Armenian revolutionaries decide that they would take over this bank to draw attention of Europeans to what is happening. And what happens, of course, is that when they take over, this is the first time at the imperial capital that something like this has happened. Everybody is in shock. And after Hamid, of course, says that he is going to let them go if the European powers are willing to take them. And what happens is that the French manager of the bank, accompanied by the Russian embassy people and others, takes the Armenian revolutionaries. They all come out of the bank, and then he takes them and puts them in his yacht that he owns. And the yacht takes them to France.
After, Hamid II uses this to say to his people, to his subjects, to say, see, this was all a Western plot to start with. They came, they sent these Armenians as puppets, and now they're taking them back. So that the first denial, therefore, is the denial of the domestic origins of the issue. Even though this is due to a failure, a domestic failure-- and to this day, whenever this issue comes, still in Turkey, they talk about all the Western powers. They are the ones who are instigating this, and everything was fine. Armenians were living in peace. They weren't. They were suffering, so it's important in that context.
The second one, I talk about the modernity and polarization within minorities between the Bolis people and the provinces and such, but I will only focus on. The second phase is very important. When the Young Turks come-- because there, what happens is that the Balkan Wars are very significant. Because at the Balkan Wars, the Ottoman Turks think that they have been personally-- the hypocrisy of Europe, basically, has destroyed them, and they have lost all the land in the Balkans because the Europeans, before the Balkan wars, say that whoever wins, the borders are going to stay the same as it were before the wars. After the Balkan Wars, when they realized that the Balkan states are able to defeat the Ottomans, they say wherever the cross goes in, the crescent has to recede so that they go back on their word and let the Balkan states keep the lands that they have conquered. And therefore, this is seen as a huge blow to the Ottomans to take to the streets saying, vengeance, vengeance.
Of course, they are not strong enough to take these Western powers on, so they turn to the only Christians within the empire that are their subjects and that are not protected. And that is how it is much easier for them to destroy these the Armenian subjects and replace them technically with all the refugees from the Balkans. And they think that the Balkan refugees will take it from there and continue. And they do not because Armenians have been able to accumulate skills, trade skills, a lot of other skills, and they cannot be replaced by mostly peasants who come from the Balkans.
And as a consequence, of these forced deportations, where they take the Armenians, usually out of the cities, where they separate the women and children on the one side, the elderly on the one side, males, adult males and males above 10 on the other, they usually massacre all the adult males and the children. On the other side, they either, also, again rape, or massacre, or in other cases let people in the surrounding places to actually come and adopt some of the children or the women and destroy others. Elderly don't get a chance to live, and mostly younger women do.
And they, therefore, argue-- for example, today, in Turkey they say there are about 2 and 1/2 million Islamicized Armenians, people of Armenian origin, that are still there as a consequence of this force, violence that they have to get through. What is very important is that the intent definitely is to destroy. They want to claim Armenians' ancestral lands. The Ottoman Turkish state wants to claim it for themselves, and that is why they undertake this destruction.
But the second denial is that even though this is the intent, they hide it. And publicly, they always claim that it was just collateral damage. It was a part of just a wartime measure that went awry. So this is the second denial, and I would argue probably that the Balkan Wars and that vengefulness had something to do with the second denial.
The third phase is once we start having, of course the Turkish Republic, and here, educational modernity is especially important because they whitewash the past and basically erase all traces of all the violence they committed. And they committed mostly violence against the Armenians because unlike the Greek Rum, the Armenians did not have a place to go to. The Greek Rum were violent against, eventually, were able to escape to Greece. The Jews never were. There were never enough of them, and they had no claim to the lands as their land. So that wasn't a problem. So it was only the Armenians, basically, who had a claim and were destroyed as a consequence.
But none of that is any longer an issue because of the military tribunals. There, presumably-- of course, what happens and this is the tragedy. This sort of explains my initial question, why doesn't Turkish Republic recognize what happened? What happens is that Britain and the Allied powers, they issue a note in 1915 saying, if and when we win the war, all of you who have perpetrated this crime against the Armenians are going to be held accountable. So the moment they win the war, they come to Istanbul, and they say, OK. They start sending people and arresting the perpetrators, but half of the perpetrators get arrested end up in Istanbul and in prison.
The other half, knowing that they're going to be arrested, instead they escaped to Ankara and joined forces with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. What happens is that in the end, when the Independence War is won, former perpetrators become Republican heroes. So that is what the problem is. The problem is the perpetrators not only survive into the Turkish Republic, but they are not punished. Only a handful of them are punished. The rest occupy very important places in Turkish society, especially in Turkey's state.
Important among them, for example, is two Turkish prime ministers and presidents. One is Ismet Inonu, who was the head, unofficial head, of the Teskilat-i Mahsusa, the Special Organization, and Celai Bayar, who also was a member of the Special Organization. It is that continuity into the republic that stops Turkey from recognizing the genocide because they have to acknowledge that their Republican heroes were actually former perpetrators, and they also have to come to terms with the fact that the major, significant corporations and businesses in Turkey, also the Turkish Republic itself, was built not solely on the blood, sweat, and tears of the Turks, but on the blood, sweat, and tears, the properties, and the wealth of Armenians as well.
And that is very difficult for them to acknowledge. And that is why it is such a foundation of violence. And that is what needs to be looked at. And the military tribunals have some problems, but I'll get into that later.
The last phase is important. This phase has to do with the Yanikian and the '75, '86 Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia assassinations of Turkish diplomats. And this is important in this 10 year period. About 38 diplomats were assassinated.
And what it does to Turkish state, at this point, they think the Armenian question is closed, that there is nothing there anymore, and there aren't too many Armenians left in Turkey either. Suddenly, when Yanikian is being tried in LA. They sent a message. The public prosecutor sends a note to the Turkish foreign ministry saying, what is your stance on this issue? And they say they look into it, and they don't have anything. They just have a four page pamphlet in English on the Armenian issue, and that's it. And then they suddenly realize they have to come up with an official discourse.
And that is when, very interestingly, according to Kamuran Gurun's memoirs, who is a diplomat, they called all of the scholars from all over Turkey, and he says we call them to Ankara. We told them, this is how you should write our history and demonstrate how the Armenians who are violent today were also violent in the past. And they say, well, these scholars are a weird bunch, he says, because we told them what to do. Not only did they not do what we told them to do, they instead told us how we should go about this ourselves. So obviously, they go back. The scholars don't get into it. And to this day, until recently, no decent scholar in Turkey would write on this, and the people who do write on it are usually second or third rate scholars because if you have any respect of academic principles, obviously, you won't go into this type of reasoning.
So what happens instead is they need to have something. Gurun and others recruit old, retired diplomats. They send all the retired diplomats, who also know Ottoman, into the archives. And then, of course, they look at history, only highlighting the violence of the Armenians, not at all going into the violence of the Turks against the Armenians, and that is how you get this bizarre thing about mutual massacres and everything because the people who are doing the research are not academics. They are retired diplomats.
So what happens is that because of that, the last incidence of violence is the responsibility of violence against the Armenians is denied as a consequence of this thing. So this is basically a very quick summary of my argument, and there, of course, I argue that the fact that this is not accounted for also leads, eventually, to the very recent assassination of DInk because the state is still complicitous in the continuation of the violence and discrimination against the minorities.
I want to end with one memoir to give you a sense of what the memoir carries. This is a memoir of [INAUDIBLE], probably in her 70s now. And it gives you a sense when you look at it thoroughly how you come up with these very different accounts and how the pieces of the puzzle fit. What's important here is her father is Ahmed Faik, Erner actually, who she thinks is a nameless hero-- adventures, fairy tales, assassination, whatever. I mean, directorship of the [INAUDIBLE] Deportee.
And if you look at the third paragraph, this is on page 10. On page 55, you realize what the father was accused of. Well, he was the police chief of Talat Pasha so that should give you some idea. The arrest of four British persons, but he was held responsible for the deportation of 27,000 Armenians. It wasn't deportation. He massacred them. So obviously, that is why it's interesting, of course, she sees him as a hero, but he is actually a perpetrator.
This evidently worried him so much that he never engaged in politics to become a state official ever again, even when Ataturk twice called him to Ankara to report for duty to the fatherland. So all you also see this nationalist discourse. That is one side.
The mother, on the other hand, has a totally different experience. So if you look at past second paragraph, she was 18. She was going to Antep in 1915 for the newly wedded husband. And the voyage, she says, we were passing through the [INAUDIBLE] "Infidel" Mountains by horse carriage. People on the road were migrating. Again, you know it doesn't say they were forcefully being sent. Many elderly, children, women walking in the ice cold air, some so much covered with flies you could not make out their faces. Some took a couple of steps, fell, and died. Many worked to get into the carriage. One woman attacked by carriage crying, "Let's me be your slave. [TURKISH]. Take me. [INAUDIBLE]" People died while walking. At night, children's cries of [TURKISH] rose from the tent. It was terrible. We had fallen right into the middle of the Armenian migration.
So you get a sense. Then, the two discourses come together. Years later, when the father is 84-- so this is probably around when the [INAUDIBLE] murders are taking place. My mother said something against it, yet my father would be lying calmly in his bed, suddenly came alive, and 84 years old pounding, his fist against the comforter said to my mother, "If I were born again, I would have done it again. Do you get that I would have done it again?" Even in his last minutes, whenever a national issue came up, he became alive and cried out.
And this gives you a sense of how nationalism is able to penetrate into all pores of society. Now in the last 10 years, thankfully, Turkish society, through civil society, has started to come to terms with, and I hope my book too will contribute to that dialogue so that once again, Anatolia, Asia Minor, Western Armenia will be a place where we are able to come together and live like once we should have a long time ago before such violence unfortunately took that option away from us. Thank you.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: So we have about 20 minutes for questions, and Professor Gocek said she's going to be fielding her own questions.
FATMA GOCEK: Sure, please go ahead.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: No, just questions please.
SPEAKER 1: Can I say that she was an excellent presenter of this issue? I have heard many who has spoken on this campus, and I commend you highly for it.
FATMA GOCEK: Thank you.
SPEAKER 1: Very, very fair presentation.
FATMA GOCEK: Thank you so much. . Thank you. Well, it's my obligation as a academic. Yes?
SPEAKER 2: Did you bring-- do you have the book for sale?
FATMA GOCEK: I only have one book. It's on Amazon, and Oxford University Press is the one that published it. The books are very heavy. 644 pages. Oh, they have it in the bookstore?
MOSTAFA MINAWI: I ordered it for a class.
FATMA GOCEK: Oh, you ordered them for the class.
SPEAKER 3: Thank you.
FATMA GOCEK: My pleasure.
SPEAKER 3: I wasn't here in the beginning, so I'm not sure where you started. Did you mention that when [INAUDIBLE] conquered [INAUDIBLE]
FATMA GOCEK: Yes.
SPEAKER 3: OK, so what did they do [INAUDIBLE]?
FATMA GOCEK: No, I didn't because I start later with 1789.
SPEAKER 3: I'd to mention before we met.
FATMA GOCEK: OK, well--
SPEAKER 3: They let all the minorities practice their religion.
FATMA GOCEK: Yes, they did.
SPEAKER 3: And I am all with you. I think [INAUDIBLE] so I'm not going to argue as you are arguing, make generalizations, I think I found a bit too strong your generalization on lumping all the Turkish people as violent.
FATMA GOCEK: I did not say violent.
[INTERPOSING VOICES] Perpetrators, definitely there.
SPEAKER 3: I'd love to tell you something. I am older than you are, and my father was almost 50 when they had me. I'm the last child. I'm from Istanbul, Turkey. I've been living in this country for much longer than I ever lived in Turkey. My father was in the Army. He was born in Yugoslavia, former Yugoslavia, brought to Turkey as a seven-year-old and given to Turkey so that his mother can let [INAUDIBLE]. And then she became a young Turkish soldier. She was an officer actually.
During that time, you were talking about nationalization. It wasn't limited to Turkey. The fall of Europe, everybody was taking very, very [INAUDIBLE]. Yes, Bernard Lewis.
FATMA GOCEK: Bernard Lewis was my mentor at Princeton, so I know his work very well.
SPEAKER 3: His master's degree in Turkish history even [INAUDIBLE]
FATMA GOCEK: Are you, then, in academia?
SPEAKER 3: Not now. I've been in on and off.
FATMA GOCEK: But you see, that is the difference you and me because I have been working on this for 12 years. I have-- yes, but you personally have one experience. Definitely, I can give you-- yes, I know. I have my grandfather as well, but this is personal.
The other thing is I'm talking to about 300 memoirs. I have read about 700.
SPEAKER 3: Let me give you one more too, which is you would like to hear this. Everybody would like to.
FATMA GOCEK: But is it printed in Turkish?
SPEAKER 3: I am going to give you my father's personal experience of during the independence, the Turkish war.
FATMA GOCEK: But that was not of interest to me. Thank you very much. But the problem is-- I do not want to. Well, I am stopping you because to me, the important--
SPEAKER 3: Very good story. Other people will appreciate it too.
My father was left in [INAUDIBLE] Turkish army was told he was dead. They pulled out. And he opened his eyes. This is after the genocide. He found himself in his own room in his home. He was [INAUDIBLE] this is Turk soldier. [INAUDIBLE] they brought him back to life.
FATMA GOCEK: That's wonderful.
SPEAKER 3: There are all these--
FATMA GOCEK: I totally agree.
SPEAKER 3: [INAUDIBLE].
FATMA GOCEK: Well, that's not only the one case. There are also righteous Turks. There are many Turks who opposed the deportation--
SPEAKER 3: I think that it should be acknowledged that there was-- like Hitler that people are dead. What we are doing today--
Not with the Turks. American is going to Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or Iraq.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: Can I--
SPEAKER 3: I'm through.
FATMA GOCEK: You're welcome. You're welcome. Now, you will leave?
SPEAKER 3: I think I found your talk very intense.
FATMA GOCEK: Well, I'm glad you were here. And of course, you should stay till the end if you are interested because you basically made your statement, and you're leaving now, which is unfortunate.
SPEAKER 3: [INAUDIBLE] it's the end.
FATMA GOCEK: It is not the end yet. I think you should sit down and listen to the rest.
SPEAKER 3: OK.
FATMA GOCEK: Thank you. Thank you. yes?
SPEAKER 4: Yeah, this was really interesting. I have a question because you mentioned this issue of open wounds never healing. I mean there seem to be a lot of cases, where there is mass violence, but somehow it doesn't result in a lot of-- I'm thinking of the Stalinist purges, for example. They don't talk about the Stalinist purges in Russia, and it's not pathologized in the same way. And I'm wondering if you could talk about why it is some things?
Is it really that a trauma necessitates a particular kind of response? Or that there are historical circumstances that might determine what kind of response emerges for community treatments or--
FATMA GOCEK: Well, what I'm trying to argue is that because denial is so layered, and it takes so much over time, it becomes especially difficult because it is multi-layered for Turkish state and society to accept it. Because it is so layered. The problem is that with violence, usually, it takes at least a couple of generations for a society to come to terms with the social impact of violence. But in this particular case, for one to be dealing with violence-- and this is, for example, why soldiers with PTSD in American society after the Iraqi and Afghani incursions-- what happens is that usually those who commit suicide are the ones who cannot come to terms with the fact that they have actually suffered, and they are ill. So it's the ones who cannot acknowledge the violence that they were apart of that have a very hard time coping with it and moving on.
And in this case, what is very important is that if you have been hurt, in order for you to deal with that wound, you have to publicly need it to be acknowledged so that if you go to someone and say, I am hurt. I want to heal. People don't say to you, it's a figment of your imagination. You're not hurt. It just feels that way to you. I mean, there has to be acknowledgment for that healing process to start. That is the problem, in general.
So I mean, people always say to me, well what about the Native Americans and African-Americans in this society? They also underwent a lot of violence. Yes, but if you talk about that violence, people don't say to you, you're obviously making this up. We didn't do any of that. I mean, that is the major difference.
If both publicly, by the state and by society, your suffering is not recognized, that is when it metastasizes, and it becomes very hard to heal because it is not openly acknowledged. That is the problem. That is the major difference.
I mean, that is why, for example, with reconciliation, and these tribunals, and others, they are trying to have acknowledgment so that there could be the healing to follow. And of course, that healing is not also something we should let the Armenians do alone. The Turks also have to be involved in that healing process together with the Armenians. That is the difference as well.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: We have a question from--
FATMA GOCEK: Yes.
SPEAKER 5: Thank you so much for your work. It was equally fascinating and important. The first part of the question is, to what extent we can use a framework you have developed here to study other prosecutions of minorities in Turkey? People are talking about the Greek genocide. So to what extent is that applicable? And to what extent-- and forgive me, I'm generalizing-- can we state that like that sort of violence would be the base of the contemporary Turkish state and contemporary Turkish identity?
FATMA GOCEK: Well, that's why I said it's a foundational violence, and that is why it's so difficult. The Greek Rum also faced it. Assyrians are another very important group. Greek Rum from the Trabzon area are also important. And then, of course, the Kurds. I mean, basically, the Kurds, half of whom participated as perpetrators, half of whom protected the Armenians also now say that at the time the Armenians said to them, we were breakfast. You're going to be lunch and dinner. And in a way, that massacre has continued, one can argue, to this day.
So after working on the Armenians, I'm going to work on the Kurds next to see what the pattern of violence is in that case. And I'm going to give a talk at the Assyrian genocide. They're having a conference as well. And whenever I usually talk of these things, there are Greeks and others, and they say, what about ours? And I say, take a ticket and get in line because, in general, I mean, it is a vast project. I mean, this is a denial that has continued throughout the Turkish Republic, so it's going to be very hard. The more you put it off, the harder it is going to be for us to come to terms.
Another reason why these things were not discussed in Turkey is there literally wasn't any time to discuss it from 1912, 1911, to literally 1989, 1990. So we're talking 70 years.
Why? Because first there was the war in what is today Libya. I guess, the Italians. Then, there were the Balkan Wars, '12 to '13. After that was the First World War, '14 to '18. Then, there was the Independence War, '18 to '22. So we had people literally fighting from 1912 to '22 for 10 years straight. The population of the country, of course, especially the males, almost were decimated.
And then after that, the republic was founded, but suddenly, there is the unrest that leads to Second World War, '38 to '45. After the Second World War, there is the Cold War. That goes from '45 to '89. It's only after the fall of the Berlin Wall, that in the last, let's say, 20 years, that this is a topic that is being talked about in Turkey. And that is why with time I think, Turkish society is going to come to terms and acknowledge gradually.
I know that I'm not the only one working on this. There is a lot of other people, and the younger generations, especially, are very interested in these topics as a consequence. It's a matter of time. That acknowledgment would come.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: Excuse me.
SPEAKER 3: Second World War.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: I'll get you. There's two people ahead of you.
FATMA GOCEK: I didn't say Turkey was involved in the Second World War. Well, let me bring what I want because I'm the one who's giving the talk. You are not. Thank you.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: Laurie?
LAURIE: Yes, thank you for a very interesting talk. I'm curious to hear what you think, or what you would like to see, either the government or or the [INAUDIBLE] for Armenian scholars in Armenia or Europe, or Armenian society in Armenia or here. Do [INAUDIBLE] reconciliation more possible on their side? How do you think the discourse needs to change among any of those?
FATMA GOCEK: Yeah, well, thank you. That is a very important question. With reconciliation, I think it is important. There is a lot of disagreement within Armenian communities as to what needs to be done. Then, there is a lot of issues about who is going to be the people with whom the Turkish state is going to deal. I do not go into that. I am not a diplomat.
From my point of view, what's important is that I have the Turkish civil society that I hope through getting the new knowledge that is now produced will be able to reach out to the Armenian civil society, either the diaspora or the ones in Armenia. I have been to Armenia however. In once sense, there, the thinking is very different from the thinking and the diaspora. I mean, they seem to be way back in another time because of the Soviet influence. They never were able to come to terms. But the diaspora doesn't have the state structure through which to engage in this. So that is the major problem.
But if you put civil society organizations together-- we are I am a part of Project 2015, and we're taking a large group of diaspora Armenians to Turkey-- I think the important thing is to be able to slowly, then, get people talking to each other because I think the change will not come at the level of the state. State always, they think with their brains. They don't have hearts, and they think about their own interests. It's humans, I think, that will pressure eventually people to think.
And now, we do have a very significant group of people, both among the Turks and Armenian diaspora, Armenians that are working together. And once, for example, at Michigan, I work with the Armenian studies program. All the Turks learn Armenian, and all the Armenians learn Turkish. And they write and work together. And they, of course, are way ahead of us in terms of what is possible. It is when you have such joint ventures that things are going to change. So that's the only thing I can do as a scholar. The rest, I don't know about. I'm not a lawyer or a diplomat, thankfully. They should figure those out themselves.
Yes, please, go ahead.
SPEAKER 6: I'm sorry. He was first.
FATMA GOCEK: Yes?
SPEAKER 7: First thank you for coming to talk about this.
FATMA GOCEK: My pleasure.
SPEAKER 7: Second, it looked from your comments that one day the Turkish government will acknowledge this.
FATMA GOCEK: Yes. Yes. But they think that the later they do it, the less costly it will be for them. That is the whole idea basically. And for them, it's a matter of cost. It's not a matter of moral conscience.
SPEAKER 7: Any idea when that may come?
FATMA GOCEK: I would say, given the level of scholarship that's emerging, probably a decade or two at most. I was hoping it would be by 2015. But obviously, I was wrong. The pace is much more glacial than I would like it to be, but my specialty is social change. So I know how these things work, and they work very slowly.
SPEAKER 7: Thank you.
FATMA GOCEK: My pleasure. Yes, please go ahead.
SPEAKER 8: Is there somebody else?
MOSTAFA MINAWI: Nobody else.
SPEAKER 8: I'm just curious. You mentioned the dialogue that's beginning to take place in Turkey. I'm curious about how that works with the legal system in place, and that's illegal.
FATMA GOCEK: This is really important because, for example, I formally and informally talked to officials, consul generals, and things like that because they, for a while, tried to attend our conferences and workshops. And we wouldn't let them, of course. But because of that, they usually tell me, you're OK as long as you stay in the academic environment, if you do not go out to the newspapers, and in Turkey, and try to tell people what to think, which I don't anyhow. How should I? I mean, I only give talks in university settings, and that's what I limit my thing to.
And some of them, for example, now when I give talks, they send messages to me saying, the Consul Generals, well, we're not coming to your talk because if we come, we have to make a certain statement. And we don't want to make that statement. Therefore, we're not coming. So in a way, they are self-censoring themselves in order not to appear there.
And for the first time, when I gave a talk at MIT, the Turkish and Armenian student organizations co-sponsored the talks. So that is the kind of positive development that would happen. And I think, eventually, it's events like those and in others, both in Turkey and here, that are going to change the way things are going to be.
Yeah, yeah, from academia. Because academia is a controlled space. So there, you can't come, and you can't say, as often happens, I only read one article, and I know what you're saying is wrong. And you say, look, I've read hundreds and thousands of books and articles. You can't just come and say that that's a political stunt. It's not an academic stunt. That is why I only stay in academia because otherwise, it will get out of hand.
SPEAKER 9: Can I ask you a question?
FATMA GOCEK: Sure.
SPEAKER 9: [INAUDIBLE]
FATMA GOCEK: Yes.
SPEAKER 9: You talked about this before. I'm still not feeling good with it. So you start your book all the way back in 1789 because you say that's, really, it's kind of the beginning of an effective effort by the state to modernize. But then you put on the charts of when the violence takes place and it's--
FATMA GOCEK: All over.
SPEAKER 9: Maybe 100 years later.
FATMA GOCEK: Yes, yes also the--
SPEAKER 9: How do you connect the two? How do you connect 1894, '95 with 1789?
FATMA GOCEK: The fact that it is so much later is because of the reform efforts in 1839, '56, and '76. Those reform efforts, initially, the minorities in general, Armenians in particular, were also in 1863 through the first constitution of the Ottoman Empire actually are hopeful, and they are thinking it's going to work. It's going to work. And then once they realize the 1839 one is not going to work, then they say 1856 may work. And then, that also doesn't work. They say 1876 will.
So in a way, it's during that time not only is there a lot of hope that things will eventually work out, but Western style education starts. There is a lot of minority education as well as education of the Young Turks sort of in the schools. A whole generation comes, and that's why it takes a very long time initially. And then, it starts moving very fast.
SPEAKER 9: So it wasn't really a build up for violence. It was just like it's by nature, modernity, you think, might have led to--
FATMA GOCEK: By nature it does. Yes. Go ahead.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: Sorry. Before Senya, there's--
SPEAKER 10: Knowing that you could face imprisonment by the officials efficient, what prompted you, brought you to this issue and giving a talk?
FATMA GOCEK: Well, you see, I used to have a much softer approach. I, for example, initially did not even call what happened genocide because I said it wasn't fair to all the Turks who had no idea what had happened in their past, because of the educational system, to suddenly say to them, your parents were all perpetrators, and you're all genocidal. But I said, let them first learn what happened. Let us write books and teach them, and then they can decide and will come with us and say that what happened was a genocide.
What was very important for me was the assassination of Hrant Dink. He was a personal friend. I knew him for a very long time. Actually, the Turkish state didn't give him a passport. The first time he got a passport was to attend a workshop held at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in the year 2002. And then, afterwards, when he became assassinated, I lost my faith in both Turkish state and society. And I said, I think that was also a defining moment for a lot of us Turkish intellectuals.
And then, after I said, this is it. And interestingly enough, he was assassinated because he was Armenian, of course, but he was also assassinated as a way to stop all of us from talking because I get a lot of death threats also from Turks. But the interesting thing is after that assassination, I said, rather than preventing me, it even made me more committed because as a scholar, this is the only thing we do. Our only luxury is to ask the questions we want to ask and work on it until we get an answer. If not, I could go into business or in some other area and have a good time. This is the only thing that keeps me in academia, and that's why I became even more committed to this than I would have otherwise. Yes.
SPEAKER 11: Sort of a two part question, maybe two questions. Can you give us an idea of the numbers of casualties that happened with the Greeks and the other minority groups? I know very well as in Armenian this 1.5 million number. I have no idea about the impact of the Ottoman government on these other--
FATMA GOCEK: Well, the others are less. I mean, they're usually into 50,000 to 100,000 range. So that's why there is a difference. Of course, if you're a much smaller community, as the case of the Assyrians, that would be a much larger percentage of it. But in terms of the total loss, Armenians definitely suffered much more than the others did.
And with the Greeks, it starts in 1912 and '13 on the Aegean coast. I mean, Celal Bayar was effective there. They engaged in a lot of violence to scare them off, and about 100,000 to 300,000 Greeks leave for Greece. So that is usually, they say, the preamble for the Armenian Genocide because a lot of people who are involved in that then become involved not only in the Armenian massacres, but also later on the Kurdish ones too.
So yes, and in the meanwhile, because of what happens in 1917, there are about 60,000 to 80,000 Turks who are murdered and massacred by Armenians as well with [INAUDIBLE] and others in the east. Once the Russian Revolution occurs, the Russians withdrawal, and then the Armenians there are there. And in order to sustain their rule there, that is when they engage. So if you go, for example, to eastern Anatolia, most of the Turks there remember that massacre too, which is interesting. But, of course, the ones on the west do not. It's a partial thing.
SPEAKER 11: And it got me thinking when you said, oh, they might acknowledge in the next decade or two. What is going to happen? What's going to happen? Are they going to be giving reparations?
FATMA GOCEK: Well, there is a lot. Well, you see, from my point of view what I know as a social scientist-- and the question you asked, too, about how is the healing process going to happen-- to me, the acknowledgment is important because of the ability of the people to heal. Because whenever I talk to diaspora Armenians, they especially say, we do not want our children to grow up with this hatred because hatred is a negative force. And also, it destroys your trust in humanity. And unlike the grandparents, who actually experienced the whole thing, they only have to live with this hatred, and that's very hard to negotiate.
For that reason, I think, for me, the acknowledgment is the most important part. People say with respect to reparations-- I was just in Canada on this panel with some people. They say that because they made calculations, I don't know how, $500 to $100 billion dollars is what needs to be paid. But to whom? How? I'm just saying what they said. Billion dollars, yes.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: That is nothing. That is like.
FATMA GOCEK: So I don't know. I mean, land, these are all places I went for five summers in a row, 2001 to 2006, and went through all of what was once western Armenia. All the people who are settled there are mostly Kurds, so I don't know. The Kurds also don't listen to what the Turks say either. So it has to be probably worked out with them there. So I don't know. Those are other things that I cannot.
But at least, I think, just emotionally, it would be important just so that people-- because a lot of Armenians also say, look, we don't want anything. We just want them to recognize, and then we can move on. I mean, for those, what I do is enough. For others who say no, then it's not enough, of course. And I don't know. Let them negotiate that.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: I'm going to ask the last question because we're out of time. Do you think it is useful to study the Armenian genocide in the context of a larger genocides that we're taking at the same time, including the Turks and the Balkans because there are a lot of violence in that spot that was taking place against the Muslims as well? Does it make sense to study them together to try to figure out a pattern? Or do you think this is unique?
FATMA GOCEK: Well, that's a very good question. I mean, in it, I do study a lot about the Balkan Wars, I mean the massacres there. I also study the assassination of all the Turkish diplomats in great detail, both with [INAUDIBLE], who was one of the assassins, as well as from the Turkish consulate records. So in a way, I am very careful to bring that in.
But the problem is there-- and this is why it's so hard for people because in Turkey, these things have been depressed for so long, the moment you talk about suffering, the first thing that comes to their mind is the suffering they have had themselves in their past. But they have to be able to see that this suffering is very different from the suffering that the rest of that people had. In a way, what is most significant about this one is the denial. I don't think the others are denied the same way. That is probably the most important difference that would make it, so to speak, unique.
But the denial itself is not unique to this. If you look at the Japanese and how they denied the Nanking massacre or the comfort women, if you look at other countries, there is a lot of violence that occurs that is denied as well. So it would hopefully be an example to that.
I mean, I could do it in such comparative contexts, but because my focus was on the democratization of Turkey, that is why I focused on this one. Because this is most important for me, the most important obstacle in front of the democratization of Turkey, which is of concern to me.
We have your hand up. OK. Yes, sure go ahead. Yes.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: Go ahead, Lara.
LARA: Sorry. i just wanted to ask this during seminar, but it was a little bit off topic. Seeing as how we ended up on democratization, sort of ended up with talk of reparations and now sort of a Kurdish area, I'm wondering what you see as how you're now working on the Kurdish issue, I'm wondering how you feel about the fact that the only political institution, the only political party that has actually acknowledged the Armenian Genocide as a genocide is the predominantly Kurdish party that is developing?
FATMA GOCEK: That's very important, yes. They have, and they have publicly apologized too. I don't know how much of that has come here because it has been translated into English. But in Turkey, they always come out. And one of the reasons they hold now in the Arabic world especially conferences, annual conferences, where they discuss the Armenian massacres throughout history in much more detail than elsewhere. And the church there is also open to prayers, unlike other churches in aftermath, which are very restrictive in terms of prayers. So that is a major difference as well.
I think that, basically, given also know how Erdogan's government, Justice and Development Party's government, is not only religious, but also very nationalistic. And therefore, on their way to denial as well, I hope that since Islamists are also being persecuted in Turkish history that they would be more open to discussing what had happened to Armenians. That obviously is not going to happen.
The Kurds are the only ones whose acknowledgment would definitely make a difference, especially if in the June 7 elections the Kurds are able to go beyond the 10% threshold and become a viable political force in Turkey. That certainly would accelerate the process as well. Yes, I'm hopeful about that.
MOSTAFA MINAWI: Thank you very much.
FATMA GOCEK: Thank you for having me. Thank you.
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Fatma Müge Göçek, professor of sociology and women's studies at the University of Michigan, spoke at Cornell April 7, 2015 as part of the Ottoman & Turkish Studies Initiative's year-long speaker series, WWI in the Ottoman Empire.