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February 22: Listen to Taner Akçam, the Turk who believes in the Armenian Genocide

Taner Akçam, one of Turkey's most historians, comes to the Indianapolis Committee on Foreign Relations's dinner to discuss "The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility"

When: Thursday February 22, 5:45 refreshments; 6:30 dinner; 7:30 presentation
Where: Five Seasons Country Club, 1300 E. 96th St.

Here's the publisher's description of his book, From Empire to Republic: Turkish Nationalism and the Armenian Genocide:

The murder of more than one million Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish government in 1915 has been acknowledged as genocide. Yet almost 100 years later, these crimes remain unrecognized by the Turkish state. This book is the first attempt by a Turk to understand the genocide from a perpetrator's, rather than victim's, perspective, and to contextualize the events of 1915 within Turkey's political history and western regional policies. Turkey today is in the midst of a tumultuous transition. It is emerging from its Ottoman legacy and on its way to recognition by the west as a normal nation state. But until it confronts its past and present violations of human rights, it will never be a truly democratic nation. This book explores the sources of the Armenian genocide, how Turks today view it, the meanings of Turkish and Armenian identity, and how the long legacy of western intervention in the region has suppressed reform, rather than promoted democracy.

For a taste of the controversy Akçam inspires, visit his book's page at amazon.com and read the reviews by readers.

To RSVP for this important event contact Courtenay Weldon at Courtenay@cweldon.net.

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3 comments:

Kelly said...

Taner's new book, "A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility" (Metropolitan Books) has been making quite a splash too. Just last week Taner was charged with "insulting Turkishness" under Turkey's Article 301 and may face a trial in Turkey in 5-6 months.

Anonymous said...

Taner akcam claim to fame is his contraversy, not his limited academic credentials. More information on him below:

His radicalism intensified while he studied at the Middle East Technical University in the early 1970s. Akcam moved from student activism into political terrorism by joining the THKP-C (Turkiye Halk Kurtulus Partisi-Cephesi-Turkish People's Liberation Party-Front) in 1972 — a terrorist organization that was implicated in the assassinations and killings of numerous far-right militants, Turkish security officials, and American and NATO military personnel. In the mid-1970s, Akcam became a leading member of DEV-YOL (Devrimci Yol-Revolutionary Path) and the editor of its periodical Devrimci Genclik Dergisi (Revolutionary Youth Magazine). It might be recalled that DEV-YOL was one of
the two principal leftist terrorist organizations (the other being DEV-SOL) that played a major role in the bloody escalation of
political violence in Turkey during the 1970s. In the bizarre ideological divisions among the leftist groups that proliferated on the Turkish political scene at the time, DEV-YOL was known as following a "pro-Soviet" line in terms of its international loyalties. DEV-YOL's bloody terrorist activities, which claimed hundreds of fatalities and a large number of serious injuries, included assassinations, armed attacks, bombings, and bank
robberies. The group also achieved notoriety when it set up a so-called "liberated zone" in the town of Fatsa on the Black Sea coast where DEV-YOL militants established their control for several months before being routed by the security forces.

During this period of heightened terrorism, Akcam was an active participant in the planning of assassinations and armed attacks against the targets chosen by DEV-YOL. He was in the inner
leadership circle of the terrorist organization and worked as the right-hand man of its leader Oguzhan Muftuoglu. In addition, as the editor of DEV-YOL's magazine, he wrote numerous articles exhorting DEV-YOL militants to engage in violence to bring down "the oligarchy", to punish "the fascists", and to get rid of "American imperialism." By the mid-1970s, as political violence between the far-left and ultra-nationalist groups escalated, Akcam had become one of the leading "theoreticians" of leftist terrorism and violence in Turkey.

Taner Akcam was arrested in 1976. After a trial that lasted several months he was sentenced to eight years and nine months for his role in fomenting terrorism and political violence. However, Akcam did not stay in jail for long: in a spectacular incident that made the headlines in the Turkish press, he escaped from a prison in
Ankara along with four other convicted terrorists in March 1977. After hiding in Turkey for several months, he managed to find his way to Germany where he asked — and received — political asylum.

In Germany, Akcam continued his involvement in radical leftist activism and became the leader of a group known as Gocmen Harekat (Migrant's Movement) that sought to reorganize the other leftist terrorists who had escaped from Turkey. In the aftermath of the 1980 military coup in Turkey, Akcam became a leading figure in mobilizing demonstrations and protests against Turkey in Germany.
He also wrote articles in various leftist publications in which he criticized DEV-YOL's leader Muftuoglu for his "pacifism" and called for the renewal of the "armed struggle" in Turkey. He also maintained his fanatical criticisms and attacks against of the West in general, and the United States in particular. In an interview in
1989, he declared: "I consider saying 'yes' to NATO and the European Union the biggest shame for a revolutionary. I am against the West since I consider it an imperialist power...and because I view the technology, culture, and politics of the West
dangerous for all mankind."

Akcam returned to Turkey in 1993 for the first time since his prison escape. Since his 1977 conviction and sentence had expired, he could not be put back into prison. In a press conference that he held upon his arrival to Istanbul, he stated that "DEV-YOL's struggle" was going to continue. However, by the early 1990s, DEV-YOL had become a relic of the past and a new generation of terrorists
had appeared on the scene that did not much care for older militants such as Akcam. Taner Akcam then worked for a period as an "advisor" to another former leftists radical, Gurbuz Cap¹n, who had become the mayor of Esenyurt municipality in Istanbul.

In the 1990s, Akcam decided to reinvent himself as a "scholar" by writing books and articles on the Armenian question. Following graduate work in the university, he became affiliated with a research center in Hamburg. His uncritical acceptance of the Armenian version of the events that took place in Eastern Anatolia during World War I quickly gained him the sympathy and support of
the anti-Turkish groups — first in Europe, and later in the U.S. At last, after spending years
in terrorist organizations, hiding from the police, and living in exile as a refugee, Akcam had found his true calling in life. By gaining the dubious distinction of being the first "Turkish scholar" to agree wholeheartedly with all the Armenian allegations and claims against Turkey, Akcam finally managed to make a name for himself outside of terrorism and also earn a livelihood through the financial support provided by Armenian diaspora organizations.

Akcam's critical views about Turkey and the actions of the Turkish state is typical of a generation of leftist intellectuals and political activists who emerged on the Turkish political scene beginning in the late 1960s. For them, the Turkish state is capable of doing nothing good and worthy and everything that smells foul and nasty.
As their hopes for a leftist revolution in Turkey faded away with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the communist regimes around Turkey, they have searched for new venues to vent
their anger and opposition to the Turkish state. Some former radical leftists have taken up political Islam as their new cause. Others have become supporters of radical Kurdish nationalism and the PKK. And in the case of Akcam, his lifelong opposition to Turkish state has manifested itself through his unabashed support for the Armenian version of history for the period.

It is lamentable that a person who has been a fanatical critic of the U.S. throughout his adult life and who has worked in terrorist organizations that were directly responsible for the deaths of American citizens is now warmly embraced by people living in this country.

Akcam's past (via another source):

December 4, 1974

Arrested for unrest at the College of LHG, METU

July 28, 1975

Arrested for obstructing the scheduled exams at the METU, Ankara

November 4, 1975

Participated in an act of violence in Malatya, which resulted in an injury to a taxi cab driver.

November 20, 1975

Became the executive editor of the periodical "DEV-GENC" (DEV-GENC later on had fractured into DEV-SOL and DEV-YOL. DEV-YOL believed in accomplishing the revolution by peace and education while DEV-SOL believed in terrorism. It's interesting to note that Akcam became part of DEV-SOL.)

March 9, 1976

Imprisoned for 8 years..

March 12, 1977

Escapes from prison into Germany

His webpage is very short on information.

http://www.hist.umn.edu/people/index.html

cemal ve melih said...

Turkish Nation the last nation, who free themselves from the Ottoman rule.

Please be aware, read and listen real acclaimed historians like :
BERNARD LEWIS.

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