What is PCH?
Project Common Humanity (PCH) is a non-profit and independent web-based initiative by Turkish researcher and writer Ziya Meral. It is a dedication to brave and virtuous human beings who have risked their lives to protect their neighbours or random strangers, during the sad events at the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, when over a million Armenians were led to their death either by murder or the natural consequence of their deportations.
As we struggle to give an official name to these deaths and seek to establish the magnitude of their suffering, what we also must not lose sight of the presence of Turks who have risked their own lives to protect their Armenian neighbours and friends.
To this end, PCH aims to
* gather as many stories possible of these brave men and women
* raise awareness of their sacrifices and efforts
* honour them and the humanity they represent
PCH seeks to do this primarily through the efforts of contributors who submit stories they have heard of or come across in their research and reading, or were eyewitnesses to themselves.
PCH will eventually translate the contents of the website into Turkish as well as into French and Armenian. When a substantial amount of credible stories have been gathered, PCH will actively seek to use these stories in order to honour the forgotten heroes of our past.
Why is it called "Project Common Humanity" ?
In our extremely polarized world, we have grown accustomed to hearing the deep ‘differences’ that separates us from each other, at the expense of forgetting the imperatives of living together on a fragile and tired planet. As preachers of Manichean battles between ‘civilizations’, ‘races’ or the ‘West’ and ‘East’ tend to dominate the public space, it is very easy for us to believe that there is an infinite and unbridgeable gap between the ‘other’ and ‘us’.
For this reason now, more than ever, we need to be continually reminded of what it is that unites us and what can give us confidence that this century will be different from the previous century, which has sadly been a testimony to the human capacity for destruction and darkness.
As Tzvetan Todorov put it, “the twentieth century may have ended but it has not ceased to haunt our memories.” In fact, the memories of genocides, ethnic violence and hatred of the 20th century have to continue to haunt us so that we can never forget the dangerous outcomes of common ideas and attitudes we hear and see everyday. Yet, as we seek not to lose sight of the ever-present potential of human race to inflict pain on one another, we must also never lose sight of the presence of potential for beauty and sacrificial love human beings have.
We know that light shines its brightest in the darkest hour. Even in the midst of human wretchedness, we witness great acts of kindness, compassion, dignity and justice. Hanna Arendt recounts the story of a German soldier Anton Schmid, who disobeyed his orders and helped the rescue of 250 Jews till his execution by the Nazis. In his last letter to his wife, Schmid told his wife that he “merely behaved as a human being” when he risked his own life.
After sharing the effect of listening the story of Schmid during the Eichmann trial, Arendt notes; “How utterly different everything would have been in Israel, in Germany, in all of Europe, and perhaps in all countries of the world, if only more such stories could have been told."
It is the presence of such people that gives us hope in our humanity, that supersedes racial, religious or national constructs and provides us with a reference point that we can all appeal to. It is because of the pure acts of courage and morality we see in the sacrifices of these people, that we can believe that if one day we were to be in such dark situations, there will be people who will run to our help.
This is why this project is called Common Humanity. In the stories we hope to gather here, you will see what deeply connects us, human beings, to each other in an extremely fragmented and disconnected century.