Monday, June 2, 2008

Kazemi Found Freedom in Britain

Remember Mehdi Kazemi, the young, gay Iranian man whom I wrote about back in March? Well, today I received good news from Lord Waheed Alli in Britain that Mehdi finally received asylum after being turned down from several other nations. I'm glad to see there is still hope for the masses in this world to live free. Write to Lord Alli expressing your thanks.

Happy 'Express Your Freedom' Day!

Book review; ‘My Grandmother: A Memoir’ by Fethiye Çetin

As a girl, Turkish lawyer Fethiye Çetin knew her grandmother as an adored Muslim matriarch by the name of Seher. Then she learned that Seher had been born an Armenian Christian, Haranuş, who, several decades before, had been seized from the clasp of her mother by a World War I Turkish gendarmerie corporal officiating over a column of Armenians being marched out of Anatolia.

"My Grandmother," now out in a translation by novelist Maureen Freely, is Çetin's compelling account of her gradual discovery of the deep contradiction between her proud nationalist education and the realities buried deep in Turkish society. The bare narrative offers few moral and historical judgments, few dates, no maps, no politics. There is also no discussion of whether the disappearance of the Armenians of Anatolia was the result of a genocide or massacres or civil war. Surprises abound: for instance, Seher came to feel great affection for the corporal as a new father. Asked why it all happened by Çetin, all the grandmother can ask back is, "What should I know?"

The pain of the Turkish Armenians is not yet over. As a lawyer, Çetin represents the family of murdered Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink, cut down in January 2007 by a young man inspired by this same deep-rooted nationalism, and hailing from Trabzon, an eastern Turkish city with a history of ethnic trauma. As Çetin's grandmother warns her children, telling them not to be afraid as they pass by a cemetery, "Evil comes from the living, not the dead."

"My Grandmother: A Memoir" by Fethiye Çetin , With an introduction by Maureen Freely, Published by Verso, ISBN: 978-1844671694, $14.71 in hardcover

Day Opening - June 2

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.