Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

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Elif Shafak 1971

writer against discriminations

Elif Shafak was born in Strasburg in 1971 and spent her youth in Spain before returning to her family in Turkey. Here she became an esteemed academic and a brilliant writer. Passionate, sensitive and non-conformist, she is married to a committed Turkish journalist. Their careers often force them to live apart as she teaches Middle Eastern History at the University of Tucson, in Arizona, while her husband works in Istanbul as the chief editor of the financial newspaper Referens.
Elif is a brave and optimistic woman, who has had to face a gruelling trial and a possible 3-year sentence for having "offended Turkishness", a charge shared by scores of other intellectuals, starting from Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk, all of whom have received death threats from nationalist extremists.
Elif’s “crime” is to have written The Bastard of Istanbul, which tells the moving story of two parallel families: on the one hand the grandchildren of survivors of the genocide of the Armenians at the hand of Turkish nationalists in the years leading up to the First World War, on the other the attempt to erase, even within the home, the slightest mention of that massacre, or even a simple doubt. In the relentless emotional pace of the book, the desire to know the truth, whatever it may be, comes to the fore.
A friend of Pamuk and of the Turkish-Armenian writer Hrant Dink, assassinated in Istanbul in January 2007, Elif is still in the front line in demanding the abolition of the infamous clause 301 of the Turkish penal code, which prevents freedom of expression in Turkey. Despite everything, her novel has been applauded by the press and by other Turkish mass media and has sold fifty thousand copies in just a few months.

Figures of truth

against the denial of the Armenian Genocide

Individuals that have not received a plaque on the Mural of Memory in Yerevan, nor the recognition of the committee “Memory is the Future”, but are distinct in their opposition to arguments of denial still prevalent in Turkey. Among them are a couple of intellectuals from Turkey who have not accepted to reject their duty of recognizing the truth and because of this are persecuted and threatened in their homeland. Journalist Hrant Dink, an Armenian, paid with his life to fight for the recognition of the genocide in Turkey.