By Alin K. Gregorian
WATERTOWN, Mass. — The Armenian Cultural and Education Center on Tuesday, November 17, was packed by Armenian-Americans eager to hear the grandson of one of the three architects of the Armenian Genocide apologize for the sins of his grandfather and to reach out a hand to the community.
If Turkish journalist and grandson of Cemal Pasha, Hasan Cemal, expected a big, warm embrace, he was mistaken. However, the audience members were certainly interested in what he was saying.
He opened his comments with the phrase “Barev harkeli barekamner” (hello esteemed friends), to the surprise of many. “I came here tonight to hear you, to understand you. I came here to open my heart to your suffering, pains and sorrows — pains coming from your history, coming from Anatolia,” he said. “I am not here to compare or to equate your suffering. I am here to understand them. I came here because my dear friend Hrant Dink said, ‘first let us understand each others’ pain.”
He repeated the phrase, as well as the Armenian greeting, several times.
“My conscience does not accept the denial of the grand catastrophe which Armenians were subjected to in 1915. In the memory of Hrant Dink, I reject this injustice,” he added. “To make excuses for such a crime is to collude in it.”
Hasan Cemal’s grandfather, Cemal Pasha, one of the three leaders of the Young Turks who had masterminded the Armenian Genocide, was assassinated on July 21, 1922, in Tbilisi, Georgia. The younger Cemal met a few years ago with the grandson of his grandfather’s assassin.