A group of intellectuals have re-sent copies of Lord James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee’s “Blue Book,” which relates the Ottoman-era Armenian unrest in Turkey in 1915, to the Turkish Parliament’s 550 lawmakers following a failed attempt to do so four years ago.
The group, which is sending the book to the deputies via the state-controlled postal service PTT, is hoping to draw attention to freedom of speech. “A ban on reading has reached schools,” said Ragıp Zaraoklu, a publisher, at an Istanbul press meeting on the evening of Feb. 19. Zarakolu made the comments in relation to several recent attempts to bar some world classics and local works of literature from schools’ reading lists.
Şükrü Elekdağ, then-Parliamentary Speaker Köksal Toptan prevented deliveries of the books four years ago when they were sent by cargo, Zarakolu said.
“In a bid to point at a rising ban on books and [overcome what happened four years ago], we find it meaningful to start efforts from this point,” he said.
If the deputies cannot receive the books from the PTT, the group plans to distribute them directly at the gate of the Parliament building.
The book was re-printed by the Gomidas Institute four years ago upon the efforts of historian Ara Sarafyan, who was also present at the Feb. 19 meeting.
Sociologist İsmail Beşikçi said the archives in Turkey would never be trustable if the “denialist” policies on the issue continued.
“The Blue Book,” also known as “The treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire” is a compilation of statements by eyewitnesses from other countries including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland during 1915-1916.
The book has been criticized as British wartime propaganda to build up sentiment against the Central Powers by some Western academics and Turkish political parties.