Raffi Hovannisian, a prominent Armenian opposition politician, on Friday strongly condemned the arrest and prosecution of Turkish historian Yektan Turkyilmaz, saying that it is dealing a “powerful blow” to the long-running efforts at international recognition of the Armenian genocide.
Hovannisian, who served as Armenia’s first foreign minister in 1991-92 and now leads an opposition party called Zharangutyun (Heritage), believes that the scholar was simply not aware of Armenian customs regulations. “I think Yektan violated the Armenian laws apparently without realizing that,” he said. “Let him and his colleagues know and respect those laws from now on. They must also be free to access our state archive. The matter should not have reached the court in the first place.”
Similar arguments have been made by more than 200 Turkish, U.S. and Armenian scholars that have signed an open letter to President Robert Kocharian calling for their colleague’s immediate release. Kocharian has still not reacted to the letter.
Among its signatories is Richard Hovannisian, the Zharangutyun leader’s father and a prominent U.S. historian of Armenian descent. He has even offered to post bail to secure Turkyilmaz’s release pending trial. The U.S.-born ex-minister said the authorities not only rejected the offer but also reneged on their pledge to allow his father to visit Turkyilmaz in a maximum security jail in Yerevan.
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