Passages from Hasan Cemal’s book, “1915: The Armenian Genocide”

Passages from Hasan Cemal’s book, “1915: The Armenian Genocide” –

Civilnet – Writer and journalist Hasan Cemal’s book, “1915: The Armenian Genocide,” was published in Turkey in 2012, becoming a bestseller. There was a great deal of interest in the book because the author’s grandfather was one of the leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress – the umbrella political party of the Young Turk movement, who in 1914 was appointed as Minister of the Navy of the Ottoman Army. He was also one of the architects and orchestrators of the attempted annihilation of the Armenian people, which was carried out under the guise of the First World War and which became the first Genocide of the 20th Century. Cemal Pasha’s grandson, Hasan Cemal, came to Armenia in 2008, where he went to the Genocide Memorial and paid his respects to Hrant Dink and to the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide. Hasan Cemal will be in Yerevan to participate in the Civilitas Foundation’s Climbing the Mountain program on December 11.

Below we present certain excerpts from his book, translated from the Turkish.

‘Dear Hrant, it is your approach, your pain which has made me write this book.’ This is how Hasan Cemal begins his book “1915: Armenian Genocide.”  Right after these words he quotes from Milan Kundera: “The struggle of the individual against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

When I sat in front of the computer to write this book I said to myself; ‘It seems as though a review of the past is always a must in my life.’ There were strange feelings, questions awakening within me. I wondered whether writing such a book would be viewed ‘opportunism’ or ‘pretension to heroism’ on my part?

Did the Armenians want, would the Armenians wish to share their own pain with ‘Cemal Pasha’s grandson?’ I couldn’t say.

But then I remembered that morning in Yerevan when the sun rose from among the mist painting the surrounding landscape scarlet. As I was leaving three white carnations at the Armenian Genocide Memorial, I had mumbled to myself: ‘Dear Hrant, it is your pain that has brought me here; I am trying to understand your pain and that of your ancestors, to feel it in my heart and I share this pain. Rest in peace my brother.’

I cannot forget that morning in Yerevan in the month of September 2008. With the first lights of the day the gracious peak of Ararat, was in turn both appearing and vanishing. ‘The hand of history’ I jotted that morning, point the right way to those who wish to see it.

How can we move towards the future without confronting the painful realities of the past, without coming to terms with it? We cannot remain silent in the face of sufferings! We cannot allow the past to take over the present.

In addition, the agony of 1915 is not one that belongs to the past but it is an issue of today. We can reach serenity, we can find peace by making peace with history – not with the kind of ‘invented history,’ distorted history such as ours is – but with the genuine history and by saving history from the malady of exploitation. Unfortunately, genuine peace and democracy is only attained by undergoing indescribable pain and by paying a huge price, as was the case with Hrant Dink.

Hasan Cemal, Istanbul, February, 25, 2012.

Some of the titles from the book

The titles Hasan Cemal has given to the chapters in his book include: “1915: Armenian Genocide” provides sufficient clues regarding the theme of the book. “Alone With Hrant in Yerevan, at the Genocide Memorial,” “Meeting in Yerevan with the Grandson of Those who Shot Cemal Pasha,” “Pain Cannot Be Compared,” “Ataturk Terms 1915 as ‘Shameful Doings, Infamy’ But,” “The Dink Murder is the Perfect Ergenekon Action,” “Tayyip Erdogan: To Become a Unionist (Ittihat-ci) When it Comes to 1915,” ‘’Will I Say Genocide or Will I Not?’’

Who is Hasan Cemal?

Hasan Cemal was born in Istanbul, and graduated from the political science department of Ankara University. He worked at the monthlyDevrim. On March 12, 1971 following the military coup in Turkey, Devrim was shut down. Hasan Cemal was convicted and sentenced to 44 months in prison. Afterward, Cemal worked at several leading newspapers in Turkey. He is the author of numerous books, which primarily deal with the establishment of democracy, issues of the military and the Kurdish issue in Turkey.

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