GLENDALE–Turkey’s recent claims that the Armenian Revolutionary archives are closed are false, said the ARF archivist Tatul Sonentz-Papazian Friday, who managed the archives until 2000.
“Actually the archives are open up to 1925,” Sonentz-Papazian said in response to recent claims by head of Turkey’s state-funded Turkish Historical Society Yusuf Halacoglu who told the Hurriyet Monday that Turkey has offered to give $20 million for the classification and the opening of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Archives housed in Boston.
Halacoglu claimed that the archives allegedly contained what he called "very important" documen’s about the "incidents" of 1915.
“Anyone can apply to the administration and provide a reason for their request. The archives are open to academicians and students,” added Sonentz-Papazian, who said that they have already been used by several scholars and students, including Richard Hovannisian, Hagop Manjikian, who compiled and edited the ARF Album-Atlas, and most recently Dikran Khaligian. He added that Turkish scholars were welcome to study the archives as well.
Halacoglu said the Armenia’s do not want to have the archives opened because such efforts will "start a real debate over the genocide claims." Halacoglu said that the ARF archives in Boston allegedly contain very important documen’s regarding both the 500,000 Armenia’s who currently live in Turkey, and the 1915 incidents.
“I have no idea what Halacoglu is talking about,” said Sonentz-Papazian, adding, “There is nothing there that could remotely be proof of case of the denial. Everything points to the fact that the Genocide did happen. There is no doubt that it was a state process to get rid of the Armenian.”
Halacoglu, who is notorious for making bizarre statemen’s regarding the Armenian Genocide, is also wanted in Switzerland and would face trial based on that country’s law on Genocide deniers.
"The [Armenia’s] had said ‘We don’t have money to categorize the archives,
and therefore we cannot open them.’ I frankly told them we can give you the money needed and open the archives’. But they did not respond to my offer," Hurriyet was quoted Haracoglu as saying on Tuesday.
Halacoglu said he also presented his proposal to two Armenian historians, Ara Sarfian and Hilmar Kaiser, adding he heard no word back, and noted that the opening of the archives in Boston would launch a real debate on the issue. "This would directly open a debate over the genocide claims. Armenia’s are aware of this and therefore they are doing their best not to sit at the table," he claimed.
“I saw Hilmar a few months ago. We talked for quite a long time and he never mentioned anything of the sort,” said Sonentz-Papazian, who also reported that the archives, which are stored in a temperature-controlled vault, were currently being digitized and work was being done to restart the cataloging.