Turkey: At the Crossroads of East, West, North and South, January 5 – On Campus Class

Posted on January 5th, 2012 by

Today in our class discussion we talked about the massacre of the Armenian population in Turkey during the first World War along with the Kurdish minority in Turkey and it’s terrorist organization the PKK(Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

On the Armenian massacre or “genocide” topic we discussed the two differing views that the Turkish and the Armenian people have on the issue.  Turkey does not classify this incident as a Genocide but it does take responsibility for the fact that many Armenians were killed on the forced march that they were forced to take. The Turkish government felt that the Armenians were a security threat on their Eastern border and so started the march that, by the end, killed upwards of 650,000 Armenian people, due to starvation and other types of death.  On the Armenian side of the issue we see a stance of labeling this happening as a Genocide.  They feel that it was a specific policy set by the Turkish government to eliminate them as an ethnic group.  So far there has been no official agreement on the issue between the two governments but some progress has been made on the part of the Turkish government in terms of them wanting to open their records to the public to gather the facts of the time and decide what exactly happened, this would be a joint effort with the Armenians but so far they have been non-responsive to this endeavor.  Our discussion in class on this topic was a heated one with many varied opinions on the topic and we probably could have talked about it for much longer than we did today.

Moving on to the PKK, the Kurdish terrorist organization, we see a movement by circles in the Kurdish population working towards an independent Kurdish nation.  This group uses both politics and violence to further their cause through their history as an organization we do see some progress towards at least recognition of the importance of the Kurdish minority and their needs as a people.

In the second part of our day as a class we watched a movie entitled Bliss.  This is a film about woman who was physically abused and her journey, along with her future husband, to get away from village where it happened and also to find her place in Turkey.  They find friends in unsuspected places and eventually she comes to terms with the problem.  This movie, i think, also portrays the differing cultural values that are important to different parts of Turkey.  In this village where this woman lived, if you were violated in this way, you had brought shame to the family and should not be a part of this world anymore.  By the end of the movie and her eventual escape from this problem we see the people around her questioning this view and changing their minds in favor of the more modern view of this problem, one in which it was not her fault and the family just had to do their best to deal with and move on from the problem.  Overall i think this movie was an interesting one.

So that is a recap of January 5, our on-campus class, Can’t wait to get to Turkey!!


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