Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

An Open Letter of Apology

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I was in my car this morning, listening to CBC radio as I always do. Yes, like many of you, I am a CBC radio junky. I heard a fascinating interview with a writer from Turkey. Recently a group of 200 Turkish academics, journalists, and writers wrote an open letter, apologizing to Armenians for what they have dubbed “the Great Catastrophe,” the genocide of 1915, in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were massacred. "My conscience does not accept that (we) remain insensitive toward and deny the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected in 1915," read the apology. "I reject this injustice, share in the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers, and apologize to them."

While Turkey does not deny that many died in that era, the country has rejected the term genocide, saying the death toll is inflated and the deaths resulted from civil unrest during the Ottoman Empire's collapse. It is important to note that it has been against the law in Turkey to comment publically about the genocide. Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk was prosecuted after he commented on the mass killings in 2005. Hrant Dink, an ethnic Armenian journalist was shot outside his Istanbul office in 2007, following his prosecution for comments he made about the killings of Armenians.

This open letter has become a petition which has been endorsed by thousands of Turkish citizens. This is a bold and important move by the Turkish community and I am proud to hear that it is being led by a group of authors and journalists. We are and must always strive to be that powerful voice in our communities. I’m reminded of the quote by Martin Luther King who said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” In this case, the writers of Turkey have done the right thing, and others are following in their footsteps.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Kathy Kacer

Kathy Kacer is an award-winning children's author whose focus is historical fiction and true stories about the Holocaust. Her many books include The Secret of Gabi's Dresser, Clara's War, The Underground Reporters, Hiding Edith and The Diary of Laura's Twin.

Go to Kathy Kacer’s Author Page