Attended by many personalities as well from Europe as from Turkey, notably Özgüden’s comrades from the period of 70’s and 80’s, the meeting was opened by Touraj Atabaki in behalf of the IIHS.
After having explained the importance of the day for the IISH marking enlargement of the documentation of the social and political life of Turkey and reminded Özgüden’s political and social fights in Turkey and in exile, Atabaki said:
“I should admitted that our meeeting in Brussels allowed me to discover another Dogan, educator Dogan. Together with Inci, they founded the Sun Workshops (Ateliers du Soleil) where many people of different nationalities, old and young, man et woman, are attending different courses to improve their knowledge and to go beyond the life of passivity. This was by itself an achievement in the rich history of Dogan’s political activites.”
In conclusion, Atabaki addressed directly to Özgüden:
“Dogan Bey… Living more than forty years in exile together with your partner, your comrade Inci, you contributed to the fight for democracy and human rights not only in Turkey, but also in many other countries in Middle-East, Africa and Asia. Let me borrow a couple of phrases from Nazim Hikmet:
“To live like a tree alone and free
“To live like a forest in brotherhood
“This is your dream, Dogan Özgüden, and it was the dream of Nazim Hikmet.”
After a presentation of the history and activities of the IISG by Mr. Jaap Kloosterman, a short documentary on the exile life of Özgüden and Tugsavul made by Flemish Brussels TV and a documentary on Özgüden’s life made by the Roj TV on the occasion of the 40th year of his political exile were presented to the audience.
Then, Dogan Özgüden made the following speech:
“Ladies and gentlemen,
“First of all I want to thank to the leaders of the International Institute of Social History, Erik Zürcher, Touraj Atabaki, Jaap Kloosterman and Erhan Tuskan, for having received into this temple of social history the reminiscences of a life in exile over forty years.
“This is really a pride for me to see today the presence of our archives here alongside the works of historical figures of the social and political struggles around the world.
“I thank particularly to my friends, my comrades, as Fahri Aral, Faruk Pekin, Müfide Pekin, Ragip Zarakolu, Bige Berker, Yücel Top and Tayfun Demir, present here, who contributed to the success of this work as well in my home country, Turkey, as in exile.
“I also thank to my colleagues, my comrades, Iuccia Saponara, Davut Kakiz and Tural Fincan who have taken full responsibility of leading Sun Workshops, a crossroad of citizens that we created with my beloved, my comrade, Inci Tugsavul, who is unfortunately absent this day of glory due to her health problems.
“However, she is present here at this moment with the works she carried out courageously for almost half a century despite many unbelievable difficulties, pressures and obstacles.
“I remember how she registered by shedding bloody tears all documents of torture, political trials, executions, imprisonments of black periods of military coups.
“Contribution to the conservation of documents of the periods that I lived has always been a major concern throughout my professional life and social struggles.
“I started journalism 62 years ago in two local newspapers in Izmir, which had not yet substantial archives.
“I met the first real archives when I was engaged by Abdi Ipekci as representative of the daily Milliyet in 1958. Later on another Istanbul daily: Gece Postasi.
“But the big day in my professional life is undoubtedly the day that I took over the direction of Turkey’s oldest daily Aksam, may be as the youngest chief editor of a big daily, that I turned it into a real left-wing daily newspaper.
“After having signed the contract with newspaper’s owner Malik Yolaç, the first thing I did was to go into the archives room of the newspaper, which was a real treasure for researchers on history and political and social cultural life.
“As the chief editor of this journal, my priority was to enhance and to keep these exceptional archives. At that moment, I remember as an exceptional person who was an unknown hero of journalism, the head of the archives Muzaffer Gökmen, who was also the director of the historical Sultan Ahmet Libraries.
“After being away from the daily under the pressure of big business circles, with Inci, we have kept the same concern on archives when we created the political magazine and publishing house Ant in 1967.
“In 1968, when another historical daily newspaper, Vatan, went to bankrupt, we added its historical archives to the modest ones of Ant.
“Alas, another disappointment … After having left our country under the pressure from the military during the1971 coup, we learned that these precious archives and even our private books were either destroyed by the military or transferred by some people to other places that we don’t know. They no longer exist for us.
“This is why, since the first day of our political exile, in 1971, despite two-year clandestinity in Europe, with Inci, we have kept all documents and created these archives, which now fortunately arrive step by step to IISH.
“I am especially very delighted today to see that these archives will forever be in a country that received us as political refugees after two years of exile thanks to the solidarity of our Dutch friends as former European Parliament speaker Piet Dankert.
“I have never forgotten the years of clandestinity how I had to pass my nights in phone booths tin the face of the central station of Amsterdam.
“It is during these years that we have made all publications of the Democratic Resistance of Turkey that now integrated to the IISH archives.
“And from 1974, with friends and comrades who had contributed to the democratic resistance, we established first Info-Türk, then the Sun Workshops (Ateliers du Soleil).
“Thanks to these institutions, we have created and kept alive the archives of the 40-year history of political emigration and economic immigration, and the anti-racist and anti-fascist fights everywhere.
“Today we trust them to this prestigious international institution.
“Today is also the beginning of the second youth for me and for Inci…
“As long as we live, we’ll continue to contribute to enriching the archives of this institution.
“I thank again all of you.”
After this intervention, the IISH projected a documentary, “From one coup to another in Turkey”, made by the Info-Türk Foundation in 2006 on the occasion of the 35’the year of the 1971 military coup d’état.
Finally, the participants of the day visited all sections of the IISG keeping historical documents from Karl Marx’ manuscripts to the resistance papers, films, objects of the recent years, including the archives of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TIP), progressive trade unions and many leading figures of Turkey’s left-wing movement such as Hikmet Kivilcimli and Kemal Sülker.
Visiting the Exhibition “From One Coup to Another in Turkey” of Info-Türk Foundation