Turkish Grand National Assembly Blocks Distribution of Genocide Books to Members

Turkish Grand National Assembly Blocks Distribution of Genocide Books to Members 07 August 2009
The delivery of the "Blue Book” to members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) has been rejected by the speaker of the TGNA. The 550 copies of the newly authorized Turkish translation of "The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16,” a 1916 publication of the British Parliament known as the "Blue Book,” had been individually packed and addressed to each member of the TGNA after the launch of the book in Ankara by Lord Avebury, vice-chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, and Ara Sarafian, director of the Gomidas Institute, on June 26. All 550 copies were returned to the printing house. Delivery through a cargo company in Ankara was later arranged.

The Turkish edition of the Blue Book released in Ankara was published by the Gomidas Institute (London), which had also published the uncensored editions of the original 1916 publication, edited and with an introduction by Ara Sarafian, in 2000 and 2005, respectively.

A report published in the Aug. 5 issue of the daily Hurriyet revealed the truth behind the TGNA’s refusal to accept the books. In a news item by Hurriyet correspondent Sefa Kaplan, Sukru Elekdag (the former Turkish ambassador to the U.S.) is quoted as saying that he had called Speaker Koksal Toptan (the deputy of the ruling AKP) and told him not to give permission for the distribution of the books. Here is how Elekdag justified his action: "Toynbee had himself confessed that the book was a collection of lies. I consider it my duty to stop the delivery of the books. I don’t think that this is censorship. It is inappropriate to let a book which is nothing but a propaganda tool distributed and promoted.”

Elekdag said he hadn’t received any invitation from Sarafian, but that he is ready to discuss the Blue Book issue with Sarafian either in England or in Turkey.

Ragip Zarakolu, the owner of the Belge Publishing House and the vice-chair of the Human Rights Association in Turkey, organized the delivery of the books through a cargo company. He said the ban on the book by the speaker of TGNA was a scandal and an usurpation of the right of MP’s to exercise their free will. Zarakolu said they will instead send the copies to the home addresses of the TGNA members.

Contacted by phone, Ara Sarafian said, "Elekdag is concerned about his own legacy. He has misled and compromised the TGNA on the Blue Book issue for many years. Now he wants to stop his colleagues from finding out what he has done. We will invite Elekdag to a public meeting and hold him accountable for his views.”

Elekdag is a retired ambassador and the architect of Turkey’s domestic and international strategy against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. He was the one behind the well-known TGNA letter to the British Parliament, signed by 550 members, demanding the withdrawal of the Blue Book and the parliament’s acknowledgement that it was a war-time propaganda tool, a "fabrication.”

For more information about the Blue Book issue, including copies of the invitations sent to Elekdag and his colleagues for a dialogue regarding the Blue Book, visit www.gomidas.org.

SOURCE: http://www.armenianweekly.com/2009/08/07/turkish-national-assembly-stops-distribution-of-genocide-book-to-members/
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