Friday, May 23, 2008

Turkish official's claim about closed Armenian archives denied

May 24, 2008
The Armenian Reporter
by Armenian Reporter staff
Halacoglu put his foot in his mouth again!
The archives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun) through 1925 are open to scholars, confirmed Tatul Sonentz-Papazian, who took responsibility for the archives in Watertown, Mass., in the late 1980s. His statement came in response to a campaign by the head of the ultranationalist Turkish Historical Society, Yusuf Halacoglu, to raise doubts about the Armenian Genocide by claiming that Armenians are suppressing certain records.

"The Dashnak archives in Boston are very important. They contain the answers to many of the questions asked today," Mr. Halacoglu said, according to a May 20 report in the Turkish daily Hurriyet. "The Dashnaks were until now saying that they cannot open their archives because they do not have the money to catalog it. So I said: 'We will give you whatever money you need, just as long as we can have the archives opened.' However, there was no response."

In a phone interview with the Armenian Reporter, Mr. Sonentz-Papazian said that the cataloguingof the archives through 1925 was in fact completed in 1995. Those archives, which include thousands of documents from Asia Minor, the Caucasus, and ARF bodies in the rest of the world, have been microfilmed and have been available for the scrutiny of scholars, Mr. Sonentz-Papazian said.

The archive has been used by various scholars including historians Houri Berberian, Vincent Lima, and most recently Dikran Khaligian.

Five thick volumes of documents from the archives have been published to date. The first four were prepared by the late Hratch Dasnabedian. The fifth was prepared by Yervant Pamboukian. Mr. Pamboukian told the Reporter that he is working on the sixth volume. He added that the entire microfilm collection is being converted to a digital format by an outside contractor.

In the Hurriyet article, Mr. Halacoglu is quoted as saying that he offered $20 million to the ARF to facilitate the cataloging and opening of the archive. "I asked historians Ara Sarafian and Hilmar Kaiser to convey this proposal to our colleagues there."

Reached by the Reporter, Mr. Sarafian denied having been asked to convey such a proposal. "This is obviously a publicity stunt," he said. "Halacoglu thrives on such publicity." He added, however, that issues remain with the accessibility of other Armenian archives outside Armenia.

Mr. Sonentz-Papazian said that he had seen Mr. Kaiser only a month ago and no such proposal had been conveyed.



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