ISTANBUL — Leading Turkish historian on controversial Turkish-Armenian history, Taner Akcam is being taken to court in the US for singling out several Turkish and American academics for Armenian nationalist attack.
“Armenian Genocide issue is an extremely political field, yet I didn’t share any explicit names,” Akcam says.
Akcam holds the chair in Armenian Genocides Studies in the history department at Clark University, Massachusetts.
Several academic has filed a US lawsuit against the Turkish historian, who is known for his research on the Armenian issue, alleging that the scholar put them at risk of an Armenian nationalist attack following a speech last month.
“I merely shared a piece of information, which I picked up [earlier] during a speech. I was delivering on the current sate of affairs in Armenian genocide studies. I did not name any names and explicitly stated I did not want to leave anyone under suspicion,” Akcam recently told Hurriyet Daily News by email.
Akcam gave a speech at a conference on June 14 during which a number of academics claim the historian singled them out as targets for extreme Armenian nationalists. A Turkish political science expert from Utah University, Professor Hakan Yavuz, will be leading the suite on behalf of Professor Gunter Lewy from Massachusetts University, Associate Professor Erickson from Virginia Marine Corps, Corps Command and Staff College and Associate Professor Jeremy Salt, who is currently working at Turkey’s Bilkent University.
During the speech, Akcam said he shared information given to him in December 2010 by a person who asked to remain anonymous, that alleged the Turkish Foreign Ministry was handing out hefty sums to academics to convince them to produce arguments to counter the Armenian Genocide claims stemming from World War I.
“I merely shared a piece of information; I wanted to provide a sample of how politics interferes with academic sphere. Frankly, I have yet to understand [on what charges] they will be suing [me]“, Akcam said.
“My source said the documents received [by certain academics] in return for the money paid by the Turkish Ministry are [located] in the archives. I repeat once more; it’s a journalist’s task to research this matter. I only transmitted the information. A journalist who was present at the conference made news out of [this]subject,” Akcam said.
Yavuz did not respond to questions posted by the Daily News via email.
Taner Akcam said he thought the information passed onto him by his source was safe, a factor which persuaded him to share it with audience.
“Hakan Yavuz is a person with dubious credibility. I have yet to understand why he took [my words] upon himself. What he has said is so lowly as to not even warrant a reply,” he said. “The Armenian genocide is an extremely political field. Politics are interfering with academic work. Armenian genocide studies have to cope with two distinct problems: One is about questions and problems [raised by] academic research itself, while the other [concerns] problems that emerge due to direct intervention by politics. The Turkish Foreign Ministry’s intervention is among the samples I have cited for this second category,” he said, adding that all he did was to repeat an ordinary fact that was already known to everyone else.
“One needs to rethink about things if the information supplied to me by my source is correct,” he said.
“I say it is necessary to re-examine because the activities undertaken in the US by the Turkish Foreign Ministry mist seriously be re-examined,” he added.