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Attack on Sept. 6-7 events photo exhibit condemned

ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News | 9/8/2005 12:00:00 AM |

Two groups protest the 'The Events of Sept. 6-7 on Their 50th Anniversary' exhibition, which is being sponsored by the History Foundation, the Helsinki Citizens Association and the Helsinki Human Settlements Association

An exhibition organized by the History Foundation to mark the 50th anniversary of the unfortunate events of Sept. 6-7, 1955 that includes photographs of demonstrations that took place in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – including photos of non-Muslim homes and businesses being looted – is being protested by two groups.

The exhibition's photos come from the History Foundation archive and were donated by Vice Adm. Fahri Çoker, who presided as chief judge during the interrogation and jurisdiction process regarding the events and later worked as a Military Court of Appeals chief prosecutor, on condition they only be publicized after his death.

The first protest group came to the exhibition at Istiklal Avenue's Elhamra Passage Karşı Artworks and delivered a public speech on behalf of the "Union of Turkish Civil Society Organizations," saying that such an exhibition did nothing but reopen a painful subject and that they did not understand why this exhibition was being held at such a sensitive time. Group spokesman Ramazan Kırkık said, “Such an exhibition destroys the unity of Turkey.”

“Why don't they show the massacres perpetrated by the Greeks?” he asked.

The second group, introducing themselves as the "Union of Turkish Struggle," attempted to destroy the exhibition hall and its photographs. The group threw eggs at the photographs and shouted slogans like “Turkey is Turkey and forever will be” and “Love it or leave it.” Levent Temiz distributed a handwritten a press release to members of the Turkish and foreign press on behalf of the "Union of Turkish Struggle." The press release said: “The country is under occupation today! Turkey belongs to Turks, and it will forever. Independence or death!” Unfurling a Turkish flag, the group members yelled, “Why aren't there photos of Turks who were massacred in Cyprus?” Some group members were taken into custody as police formed a barricade in front of Elhamra Passage.

 Protest condemned:

History Foundation President Orhan Silier condemned the attacks and said: “Such a display will affect Turkey's image abroad. This exhibition shows that Turkey is a self-confident country.”

Silier said the following to the Turkish Daily News:

“The fact that Sept. 6-7 event photos and documents are exhibited on the 50th anniversary in a gallery on Istiklal Avenue, where the attacks took place, is a sign of Turkey's cultural political maturity. In each historical period in every country, religious fanatics attempt to attack different ethnic, religious and cultural groups.

“The Anatolian land is the land of people who have peace in their genes thanks to the cultural accumulation of the Eastern Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. As some politicians and religious focal points become ineffective, our society will have peace and stability. As a democratic country, Turkey is opening up to Europe and the world. Naturally, there are certain increases in ethnic, religious and cultural tension. A solution to overcome this tension is culture and education. It is a sign of Turkey's maturity that this exhibition was even opened and received the support of the press.

“Accordingly, in order to live in peace and harmony, the key is more democracy, more confidence and struggling courageously against the problems of the past and those of today. Turkey will not progress by ignoring differences and tensions and protecting chauvinist nationalists and supporters of violence but with a contemporary culture of peace. It is not expected that such an exhibition will be regarded in the same way by all sectors of society. Of course, there will be different views and interpretations. Despite court decisions and documents of Sept. 6-7 being obvious, there may appear to be different views. These protests show that groups based on the same violent methods, fear and paranoia, still exist. But all these things have been and must be overcome by Turkey.”

Exhibition organizer and Karşı Artworks Director Özkan Taner said the following about the protests: “It is not a nice thing. This exhibition is a kind of document. It is not provocative. The exhibition includes chronological photos. We don't understand the attack. Recent tensions may be explained in another way, but it is incomprehensible that some groups are protecting the Sept. 6-7 events, which are regarded as a black eye.”

Another exhibition organizer, Bahçeşehir University European Union department chairman Cengiz Aktar, said intolerance existed the world over. “These are sensitive issues, and Turkey is not ready to address them. But we should learn.”

 Idealist Clubs Educational and Cultural Foundation: ‘The event is completely personal':

The Idealist Clubs Educational and Cultural Foundation Directorate released a statement about the attack on the “The Events of Sept. 6-7 on Their 50th Anniversary” exhibition, which is sponsored by the History Foundation, the Helsinki Citizens Association and the Helsinki Human Settlements Association. Their statement read:

“The exhibition does not concern the Idealist Association Educational and Cultural Foundation Directorate or the idealist movement. The protests were organized by individuals acting on their own and are condemned by our directorate. Levent Temiz [a protest organizer] is a former Idealist Club Istanbul province association chairman but now has no connection with our organization. We want to repeat that whoever they are, our organization and directorate will not accept those causing such unpleasant events. The idealist movement will continue to carry out its real mission.” 

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