ISTANBUL (Combined Sources)–The number of signatories on a Turkish petition to apologize for what they call the “Great catastrophe of 1915” has surpassed 13,000, however on Thursday the Web site hosting the petition went offline for three hours and returned without the option to sign the petition or the list of participating signatories.
The effort, initiated by a number of prominent Turkish academics and writers and launched on Monday, has garnered unprecedented participation from the Turkish public, who joined the scholars in support of this initiative.
But the 73 pages that list the more than 13,000 signatories on ozurdiliyoruz.com have been deleted from the site and no more signatures can be submitted.
Coincidentally, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan Wednesday denounced the “apology campaign” saying that Turks had nothing for which to apologize. In stark contrast, Turkish President Abdullah Gul voiced support for the petition saying that the effort allows the signatories to exercise their freedom of expression. He reiterated his support on Thursday.
"I do not accept nor supports this campaign. We did not commit a crime therefore we do not need to come up with excuses," said Erdogan.
In retaliation to this campaign, Turkish nationalist groups launched an alternative Web site–ozurdiliyorum.com–that claims there was no genocide, thus there is no need to apologize.
Meanwhile, the Azeri Press Agency reported Thursday that Turkish opposition parliament member Janan Aritman is alleging that Gul’s mother was Armenian adding that his support of the petition stemmed from his ancestry.
"We see that the president supports this campaign. Abdullah Gul should be the president of the entire Turkish nation and not of his ethnic origin. Investigate the ethnic origin of the president’s mother, and you will see," said Artiman, adding "the organizers of this petition are traitors."
The petition, which does not use the word “Genocide” in referring to the slaughter of Armenia’s, has elicited strong support and has prompted a national dialogue and discourse in Turkey that will go a long way for Turks to confront their history.