I posted about the initiative by a group of Turkish intellectuals to launch an online petition personally apologising for 1915 "great disaster" (read genocide) suffered by Armenians. Even though they did not mention the G-word, this is a remarkable step forward by a group of Turkish thinkers in a country where Armenian Genocide still remains a taboo, albeit a broken one, and where by mere mentioning of the Genocide one could get persecuted or killed.
Not surprisingly then this initiative was condemned by the nationalist politicians as an "insult to the Turkish nation". They were joined today by a group of retired ambassadors who slammed the recent internet campaign launched to issue a public apology to Armenians regarding the 1915 incidents.
Today The Independent covered the story saying that "Around 200 Turkish intellectuals and academics are to apologise on the Internet today for the ethnic cleansing of Armenians during the First World War, in the most public sign yet that Turkey's most sensitive taboo is slowly melting away."
This petition was indeed launched today, and the website (in Turkish) opened for signatures now. As BBC indicates, "in the first few hours after the petition was launched, more than 1,000 people had signed their names beneath it."
In fact, numbers are growing. At the time of writing this post, there were 2424 signatories there.
BBC's Sarah Rainsford provides more details to the story in a report entitled Turkish thinkers' Armenia apology:
An internet petition has been launched in Turkey, apologising for the "great catastrophe of 1915" when hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians died.
Armenians and many international historians describe as "genocide" the massacres and deaths during a forced deportation from eastern Turkey.
Turkey firmly denies that, saying those killed were just victims of war.
The petition - the first of its kind - was initiated by prominent Turkish academics and newspaper columnists.
They say they want to challenge the official denial and provoke discussion in Turkish society about what happened.
The petition is entitled "I apologise", and a short statement at the top rejects what it calls the ignorance and denial in Turkey of what the Ottoman Armenians suffered in 1915.
It then apologises for the pain that was caused.
It is a bold and original step in a country where writer Hrant Dink was killed just last year for openly saying that the events of 1915 were genocide.
Nationalist politicians have condemned the move as an insult to the Turkish nation, and the organisers have received abusive emails.
Turkey admits that many Armenians were killed but it denies any genocide, saying the deaths happened during widespread fighting in World War I.
The petition does not call on the state to apologise for what happened and it deliberately avoids the highly controversial definition of genocide.
But the Turkish academic who dreamed up the idea says he hopes it will spark a proper discussion of what happened and promote empathy for what the Armenians suffered.
Cengiz Aktar called it the responsibility of all Turks to think and talk openly about how, and why, the Armenian people disappeared from a land they inhabited for 4,000 years.
The petition's authors say they have received many encouraging comments.
In the first few hours after the petition was launched, more than 1,000 people had signed their names beneath it.
*photo - via BBC