“The Armenian Genocide has been largely invisible in Turkey, whose denialist policies continue to marginalize the remaining Armenians and other ethnic and religious groups in the region.”
Albany, Calif. -
“Opening the Mountain Dialogue Group recognizes the importance of President Joe Biden’s acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide on its 106th anniversary,” said Burcu Tung, Turkish-American co-facilitator of the San Francisco Bay Area-based community dialogue group that has been bringing Armenians, Turks, and other ethnicities together for the past 15 years. “The Armenian Genocide has been largely invisible in Turkey, whose denialist policies continue to marginalize the remaining Armenians and other ethnic and religious groups in the region.”
President Biden’s statement Saturday comes at a time in which the United States is reckoning with its own colonial and genocidal history as well its history of the enslavement of African peoples.
Part of the group’s mission is to encourage cross-cultural dialogue to reveal the different histories of the diverse peoples of Turkey. The living room dialogue process allows individuals to share their personal and family narratives and fosters trust and understanding. “Our members are committed to listening to each other's stories with open hearts and minds,” said Ojig Yeretsian, Armenian-American group founder and co-facilitator. “Our process acknowledges the wounds of intergenerational conflict and genocide. We believe that inter-ethnic cycles of hatred can be disrupted with nonviolent civil conversations grounded in active listening.”
Opening the Mountain was established as a grassroots effort after the assassination of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, who dedicated his life to truth and reconciliation. Since its founding in 2007, more than ninety Armenians and Turks have met in each other’s living rooms to participate in sustained dialogue.
Opening the Mountain is not part of any Turkish or Armenian organization, nor is it affiliated with any government. The group does, however, offer an alternative truth-telling model in contrast to nationalistic narratives that can fuel hate in both Turkish and Armenian communities. ”As Opening the Mountain, we hope this moment encourages others across the world to engage in difficult and honest conversations on historical events that continue to have repercussions for many individuals and communities today,” Yeretsian said. “For this end, we applaud Garo Paylan for introducing a measure to recognize the Armenian genocide to Turkey’s parliament.” The vision of Opening the Mountain is to encourage peaceful multi-ethnic and transnational alliances that pave the way towards equitable societies.