Sunday, January 1, 2012

GIT co-founder Vincent Duclert interviewed by Le Monde

An interview was conducted by journalist Jerome Gautheret in Le Monde (12/29/11) with French historian, professor and co-founder of GIT Initiative and GIT France, Vincent Duclert (EHESS) on the Armenian genocide, the recent non-negation law in France and the current repression of researchers in Turkey. The introduction of the article states the recent creation of GIT and the necessity of France to support the work of researchers.

The entire article, divided into three parts can be found, in French, at:

Below are a few abstracts translated into English:

From the introduction:

“Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Vincent Duclert is an expert, particularly, of the Dreyfus Affair. His work on the mobilization of intellectuals led him to address the issue of the Armenian genocide, and later, to the subject of intellectual engagement in Turkey. He has published a book on the commitment of Turkish intellectuals in the beginning of the 21st century, L'Europe a-t-elle besoin des intellectuels turcs ? (Armand Colin, 2010), through the study of several petitions emblematic of a current voice present in Turkish society. The translation of this book was to be published in Turkey by the publisher Ragip Zarakolu (Belge Publishing) but he was arrested on Oct. 29 and his manuscripts seized. Vincent Duclert co-founded with Hamit Bozarslan, Cengiz Cagla, Yves Deloye, Diana Gonzalez and Ferhat Taylan, the International Work Group (GIT) ‘Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research [in Turkey]’ ( and www.gitinitiative . com).” (J.G.)

On the recent French “non-negation” law, Turkish intellectuals and the freedom of research:

“How can Turkish intellectuals escape the trap they’ve been placed in by the bill passed by the French Assembly on December 22, that is: support the law and risk being enemies of the [Turkish] nation, or reject the law and risk allying themselves with those who deny the genocide? (J.G.)

When there was the first attempt in France to criminalize the denial of genocide in 2006, Hrant Dink and other democratic intellectuals protested against a law that could threaten their research. In 2011 [December 22], some, including members of the association of the Turkish Human Rights, stressed that the most important thing is to fight negationism.
They [also] emphasize the emptiness of official arguments, especially when the Turkish government claims that the new French law is contrary to freedom of expression; in Turkey, freedom of expression on these topics is non-existent. [V.D.]

Still, it is possible today in Turkey, to say that there was a genocide ...[J.G.]

The new power, known as "moderate Islamist" created the illusion, from 2002, that there would be a real democratization in Turkey. There were certain undeniable changes in terms of freedom of expression, especially on issues involving the Kemalist regime. But when journalists are interested in the relationship between government and religious leaders, they are often imprisoned.
This relative democratization did lead to a few advances such as editing and translation of books, or the organization of conferences on genocidal events of the First World War, or the Adana massacres of 1909. But since late 2009, there have been considerable restrictions. Intellectuals and historians who work on the past live now under the constant threat of arrest and trial. It is in this context, and in order to support these researchers that we created in Paris, an International Work Group (GIT) ‘Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey’ []. Several branches have already been established or are in the process in France [], North America [], Great Britain, and Turkey itself. A principal aim is to study how research can be conducted in Turkey and [to] put under surveillance [the] powers that terrorize researchers.” [V.D.]