Turkish intellectuals issue apology to Armenians for 'Great Catastrophe'





ANKARA, Turkey — A group of about 200 Turkish intellectuals on Monday issued an apology on the Internet for the World War I-era massacres of Armenians in Turkey.

The group of prominent academics, journalists, writers and artists avoided using the contentious term "genocide" in the apology, using the less explosive "Great Catastrophe" instead.

"My conscience does not accept that (we) remain insensitive toward and deny the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected in 1915," read the apology. "I reject this injustice, share in the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers, and apologize to them."

The apology is a sign that many in Turkey are ready to break a long-held taboo against acknowledging Turkish culpability for the deaths.

Historians estimate that, in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks in what is widely regarded as the first genocide of the 20th century. Armenians have long pushed for the deaths to be recognized as genocide.

While Turkey does not deny that many died in that era, the country has rejected the term genocide, saying the death toll is inflated and the deaths resulted from civil unrest during the Ottoman Empire's collapse.


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