Turkish Intellectuals Who Have Recognized The Armenian Genocide: Cem Özdemir
By Hambersom Aghbashian
Cem Özdemir (born 21 December 1965) is the son of a Turkish-Circassian from Tokat, Turkey; in 1983 he acquired German citizenship. After graduating from a German secondary school and a Realschule Özdemir completed an apprenticeship, becoming an early childhood educator. After qualifying for advanced technical college entrance he studied social pedagogy at the Evangelical Technical College in Reutlingen, Germany. After completing his studies in 1987, Cem Özdemir worked as an educator and a freelance journalist. Özdemir currently is a German citizen and politician. He is co-chairman of the German political party Alliance ’90/The Greens, together with Simone Peter. He was a Member of the German Bundestag* between 1994 and 2002 and of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2009. Özdemir describes himself as a “secular Muslim” and is married to the Argentine journalist Pía María Castro.(1)
In December 2008, two hundred prominent Turkish intellectuals released an apology for the “great catastrophe of 1915″. This was a clear reference to the Armenian Genocide. The following is the text of the apology: My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers and sisters. I apologize to them. Cem Özdemir was one of the signees. (2)
According to “panarmenian.net”, on April 21, 2012, Armenian Genocide commemoration evening was held at St. Peter’s Church in Hamburg, Germany.Over 700 guests of different nationalities attended the event, RA MFA press service reported. Cem Özdemir, leader of the German party of Alliance ’90/The Greens stressed the need for the Turkish government to put an end to Armenian Genocide denial policy.”The Armenian Genocide issue must be taught at Turkish educational institutions, as this will enable the Turks to get familiarized with own past,” Mr. Özdemir said.(3).
Hurriyet Daily News wrote on December/19/2012 “The Danish Royal Library has, together with the Armenian embassy, held an exhibition on “The Armenian genocide and the Scandinavian reaction” though due to protests from the Turkish embassy, the library’s director, has agreed to hold an alternative exhibition titled, “The so-called Armenian genocide.”
This decision has caused widespread debate and 37 Turkish intellectuals, have in an open letter in Denmark’s leading daily Berlingske called on the library’s director to reconsider his decision. In their view, the Turkish government has followed a policy of denial for more than 90 years, culminating in the murder of Hrant Dink in 2007. To allow the Turkish government to arrange an alternative exhibition will only support this policy. Cem Özdemir was one of the Turkish intellectuals who signed the open letter. (4).
Muriel Mirak-Weissbach wrote on May/21/2013 an article entitled ” Armenians in Germany Commemorate Armenian Genocide” where, among the speakers, she mentioned that “The second guest speaker was Cem Özdemir, the national chairman of the Green Party and member of the Bundestag. His speech was entitled, ‘In Memory of the Victims of the Genocide against the Armenians 1915.’ Özdemir stressed how difficult it is to grasp the ‘why’ behind the events: why the Young Turk leaders destroyed the multi-ethnic, multi-religious Ottoman state with their nationalist, racist ideology, and why the Armenians, known as the loyal people, were victimized. To put the apparently inconceivable crime in perspective, he reviewed the indispensable place Armenians had occupied in Ottoman society as professionals, manufacturers, intellectuals, artists. In Istanbul, for example, where they represented a tenth of the population, there were nearly as many newspapers in Armenian as in Turkish.”(5)
Armenianpress.am wrote on March 12, 2015, ” One of the leaders of Germany’s Greens Party of Turkish descent Cem Özdemir has demanded that Germany recognize “the genocide that was perpetrated against the Armenians on Ottoman lands 100 years ago”, as Hurriyet reports. Özdemir, who has visited Yerevan, mentioned the following: “The time has come to not hide the term in this year marking the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. I regret to state the fact that the German government does not use the right words when speaking about the crimes perpetrated in 1915-16.”(6)
*The Bundestag (German ) is a constitutional and legislative body in Germany.
4- http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/a-controversial genocide.aspx?pageID=238nID=37144