University Senate’s Declaration Regarding President Joe Biden’s Statement on April 24th, 2021
The history of the twentieth century, full of pains and traumas for all humanity, imposes the responsibility of rethinking, using diligent language, and acting carefully in order for future generations to live together in peace. This responsibility is about building a hope that we leave to our children and grandchildren, and obliges us, as members of the global community, to prevent the exploitation of our common past, that is, our history, for the sake of short-sighted political considerations and expectations. Nevertheless, US President Joe Biden’s characterization of 1915 incidents as “genocide” – an agenda which has been pushed by the US Congress for many years - once again unveiled the ugly face and irresponsibility of political pragmatism.
First of all, "history" is not a game arena where politicians can change and manipulate by determining the rules as they wish, but an extensive scientific field that constitutes the foundation of social sciences. It cannot be evaluated based on one-sided information and a biased perspective, without resorting to archives, documents, and philosophy. Because every objective historian knows that the loudest voice is not always the rightful one. A biased narrative of which the only backbone is political support from the dominant actors of the current system is not able to revise the past permanently. The truth has a natural tendency to come to light. Scientists, unlike politicians, are not the custodians of a fictive virtual reality, but pilgrims of an infinite search for truth.
As Uskudar University academics, we regard US President Joe Biden's intervention in history as manipulation into the scientific process and strongly condemn it. We observe that the political pressure built up on scientific studies is not uniform and even in countries that claim to be the most democratic, political authority, through exceeding its limits, tries to distort scientific knowledge. Our call is to establish a "Joint History Commission" immediately and to implement a multi-perspective academic initiative. The archives of the Republic of Turkey are open to all historians.
We reject and denounce unfounded accusations against our ancestors who had lived in this region in peace and harmony with diverse peoples for a thousand years without any discrimination. As Mustafa Kemal Ataturk stated, "Writing history is as important as making it". As the citizens of the Republic of Turkey, we will not allow others to write our history, and as academics, we will not allow our academic interests and knowledge to be distorted vulgarly by politicians.
We respectfully announce to the public.
USKUDAR UNIVERSITY SENATE