Reports of goodwill that come
out of the community of Armenian-Turks are
often met with hateful Armenian claims of these people not being free to speak
their own minds under an oppressive, Nazi-like regime. More often than not,
the Western media echoes these claims, as they do almost everything else the
Armenians say. Below is a report from The New York Times,
March 25, 1998, Page A4.
Following the Times article
are several other reports, including a sad one of an Armenian-Turk setting
fire to himself, protesting Armenian assassinations of Turkish diplomats
in the 1970s-80s.
Armenians Among the Turks: A Happier Chapter
By STEPHEN KINZER
Turkey, March24 — When the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, Karekin II, died this month,
his funeral produced a scene that some foreigners found surprising. More than 1,000
Turkish citizens of Armenian background, together with senior diplomats and Government
officials, crowded the stately cathedral where a Mass was celebrated in Armenian for the
repose of his soul.
the occasion for the ceremony was sad, it served as a reminder that despite the
vicissitudes of history, Istanbul’s Armenian minority remains large and vibrant. In some
parts of the world Turks and Armenians are viewed as natural enemies, but the funeral
showed once again that, in Istanbul, they live peacefully together.
are about 70,000 Armenians in Turkey, nearly all of them in Istanbul. They form this
country’s largest non-Muslim minority, maintaining 33 churches, 16 schools, several
hospitals and a variety of other institutions. Largely because of religious traditions on
both sides, there is little intermarriage.
never had any problems, and I never felt different from any other Turkish citizen,” said
Ara Kocunyan, editor of the Armenian-language newspaper Jamanak, which was founded by. his
great-grandfather in 1908. “Many Armenians in the diaspora have to accentuate their
ethnic identity because they’re so far from the homeland. We don’t have that problem.
We didn’t come here from somewhere else, we’re from here.”
between Turks and Armenians were good during much of the Ottoman period, but they were
deeply scarred by massacres of Armenians that pro-Ottoman forces in eastern Anatolia
carried out in the spring of 1915. Details of what happened then are still hotly debated,
but it is clear that vast numbers of Armenians were killed or left to die during forced
marches in a burst of what is now called “ethnic cleansing."
nationalists have waged a worldwide campaign aimed at forcing Turkey to admit that the
Ottoman Government committed genocide in 1915, but successive Turkish leaders have refused
to do so. In the 1970’s the dispute became so intense that Armenian gunmen began killing
many Armenians in the United States and elsewhere, the nightmares of 1915 are as intensely
painful as if they had happened yesterday, and Turkey remains a symbol of evil. But
Armenians here have concluded that there is no point in dwelling on the unpleasant past.
reason we don’t talk about 1915 is that we don’t know much about it,” said Kirkor
Dosemeciyan, an engineer and businessman. “To tell you the truth, I’m not really
interested. A lot of things happened in history, and if you want to dwell on them you don’t
have time to live in the present or think about the future.”
record in dealing with minorities is decidedly mixed. Turks of Armenian background, like
Kurds, Georgians and members of other minority groups, are free to rise in every field of
public or private endeavor, but they are expected to consider themselves Turks first of
all. If they insist on asserting their ethnic identity too strongly, they risk being
viewed as separatist.
Ottoman authorities who ordered the expulsion of Armenians from eastern Anatolia in 1915
did so because they believed that the Armenians had joined with Russia in a plot to sever
that region from the rest of Turkey. Armenians living in Istanbul, hundreds of miles from
the killing fields, were not severely persecuted, and many were barely aware of what was
happening to their cousins in the east.
the Armenian minority in Istanbul was largely unaffected b the events of 1915, it was
severely shaken by an outburst of anti-minority rioting in 1955. The Government’s
reluctance to suppress those riots led many Armenians to conclude that they were no longer
welcome here. Thousands left, among them many of the most successful and highly educated
families. They were replaced by poorer Armenians from Anatolia villages, a process that
Armenians here say has reduced their community’s cultural level.
the Armenians are quite prosperous. Many of them own businesses, and others have become
prominent university professors and performing artists.
assimilated a little better than we have,” said a prominent Greek resident of Istanbul
who asked not to be identified. “Maybe they accept the facts more than we do. Their
attitude is that life goes on. They’re not as egotistical as we are. They balance their
two identities better than we do.”
in Istanbul say they are sometimes insulted by Turks who associate them with policies of
the Armenian Government. Occasionally Turkish officials make statements that they consider
offensive, such as one several years ago in which a Cabinet minister described Abdullah
Ocalan, leader of the Kurdish guerrilla movement and a widely reviled figure here, as “a
breed of Armenian.”
if Armenians in Istanbul feel victimized by prejudice, they hide their feelings well. Many
say that they have lived their whole lives without a single unpleasant incident and that
they see no contradiction between being Armenian and Turkish. There is no visible trace
here of the anti-Turkish sentiment that burns in some Armenian hearts, and little desire
to recall the horrors of the past.
had a teacher who told me some things about what happened in 1915, and I’ve heard my
parents discuss it with their friends,” said a 17-year-old high school student who
studies at an Armenian school here. “I could learn more by reading books, but I don’t
feel ready to read those books am afraid they would make me lose my humanity.”
A little feedback from myself
The New York Times
is far from a Turk-friendly newspaper, generally speaking... although they are not
as rabidly anti-Turkish as they once were.
The first of two major points that caught my eye here was the sentence, "The Ottoman authorities who ordered the expulsion of Armenians from
eastern Anatolia in 1915 did so because they believed that the Armenians had joined
with Russia." Note the insinuation that the revolt of the Armenians was
probably imagined by the authorities, rather than the indisputable fact that it was.
Yet another form of the code phrase, "The Turkish government claims..."
Secondly, regarding the statement: "Turkey’s record in dealing
with minorities is decidedly mixed.... they are expected to consider themselves
Turks first of all. If they insist on asserting their ethnic identity too strongly,
they risk being viewed as separatist." Excuse me? Is there a nation on
earth that would tolerate a minority that would not consider themselves citizens of
that country, first and foremost? As far as potential separatism is concerned,
Turkey has a right to be particularly sensitive on that issue... since the Ottoman
Empire was an empire that gave its citizenry freedoms and tolerance far ahead of
other nations of its time, under the "millet"
system. If the Ottoman Empire had followed the pattern of other empires, Turkish
would probably still be spoken in once conquered lands, as Spanish is spoken
throughout the Americas, English is spoken in India and the Philippines, French in
Haiti, and as Chinese and Russian are being spoken today among peoples who are still
oppressed by these respective nations.
HOW MANY ARMENIANS LIVE IN TURKEY?
around 70,000 Armenian-Turks mainly living in Istanbul is the generally
accepted figure (as the above article states), ANCA begs to differ:
Today, approximately 70,000 Armenians live in and around
Istanbul. By conservative estimates approximately 1,000,000 Armenians still
live in Western Armenia. Turkey's ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide
continues to deprive those Armenians of their inalienable right to their own
culture and identity.
Armenia" is what ANCA refers to as eastern Turkey. Once again, the good
folks at ANCA demonstrate they won't stop with whatever "facts and
figures" they can come up with, until they make you say "ANCA"!
In the last few years, tens of thousands of Armenians from Armenia have come
into Turkey, seeking better lives. That 70,000 figure must be outdated, by
|"...Regarding persecution. the Ottomans had one of the most tolerant
policies towards non-Turks of any empire of its day. The three communities of Jews,
Greeks and Armenians were virtually autonomous within the empire.”
Former Australian Ambassador to Turkey
(The Australian, June 9th, 1994)
Turkish Armenians Unsettled by Genocide Charges
ANKARA, Feb 14, 2001 —(Reuters) The spiritual leader
of Turkey’s tiny Armenian community said on Tuesday he was “unsettled” by charges
that the Turks committed genocide against the Armenians in 1915.
Patriarch Mesrob II
Patriarch Mesrob II said the issue should be left to
historians, not politicians.
“No one has the right to act as the protector of
Armenians who live in Turkey today,” Mesrob said. “The place where we take our
problems is Ankara, and its name is the Turkish Grand National Assembly.”
His comments followed France’s formal recognition last month of the killing of 1.5
million Armenians during World War One as genocide. The European Parliament passed similar
legislation last year. Ankara vehemently rejects the charges.
“Armenians who live in Turkey are citizens of the
Turkish Republic....This issue unsettles us, just as it unsettles other citizens of the
Turkish Republic,” Mesrob told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit.
"Historical questions should be
left to historians," he added.
Calls Out To
Armenians Around World
Armenia's spiritual leader
sent a message to Armenians a generation ago, responding to murders committed
against Turkish diplomats and their families by Armenian terrorist groups.
The head of the Armenian Gregorian Church,
Patriarch Kalustyan, held a press conference on April 14, 1983, in Istanbul, Turkey,
The following are his remarks in their entirety:
To the Honorable Members of the Press, It is our sincerest wish to see that
activities against Turkey and acts of terrorism which accelerate in early April each
year come to an end.
It is a pity that these acts of violence provoked
by a merciless policy using the youth has reached shameful dimensions for humanity.
We, as Armenians of Turkey had on various
occasions publicly blamed and taken position against international terrorism and
blood-shedding attacks and actions against our state.
We believe that nobody nor any organization is entitled to kill people, put families
in mourning and then try to justify themselves.
International terrorism organizing itself under various forms by using violence for
political purposes in various countries and spreading out to other countries has
turned into a major catastrophe for modern man.
Almost each and every country has received its
share of the bitter fruits of terrorism.
One of the forms directed towards our country of
this international terrorism developing progressively since the 1970’s is the
One of the main purposes of this terror is to
create in Turkey an environment of hostility between the Turkish and Armenian
communities. It goes without saying that some countries, as in the past, hope to
avail themselves of this.
Our greatest comfort and happiness is that the
common sense of the Turkish nation and government has well identified these
dastardly tactics and has carefully distinguished between international Armenian
terrorism and the Turkish Armenian community.
In fact, Armenians who live in Turkey and who are
citizens of the Republic of Turkey are extremely distressed and uneasy about
Armenian terror and are wholeheartedly opposed to such actions.
Whereas the Turkish nation is very careful and meticulous about the Armenian problem
in order to avoid a repetition of events rightfully belonging to history, terrorism
unfortunately avails itself of the tolerance and incitements of certain foreign
states to endeavour to sow discord between the two communities which have
intermingled throughout centuries; and has started a one-sided propaganda under
Turkish-Armenian relations affected by long-past events as well as the actual daily
life of Armenians in Turkey.
do appeal to all Armenians spread out all over the world: fight against such actions
which blemish the Armenian race and are a prejudice to our name. Oppose yourselves to
fallacious interpretations and do not allow treacherous ideas to sprout. Avoid being
misled by those aiming at sowing sedition and discord among two communities which have
merged all along centuries in friendly and brotherly feelings.
I would like to emphasize in particular the fact that
Armenians in Turkey have no problem whatsoever which could so be misused by enemies
We, the Armenians of Turkey, are true children of this motherland and enjoy our
culture, customs, language, religion and traditions under the guaranty of the state
to a much wider extent as compared to our brothers in other countries.
Dear Members of the Press, we appeal through you to the whole world and say that all
of us, irrespective of race, religion and nationality, do have to endeavour to the
utmost with all our power, knowledge and material and moral wealth for security,
development and happiness of mankind. We must secure and maintain peace in a
positive spirit of understanding and loving feelings.
God means love. Since religion is the way in which the individual and society relate
to God, antisocial killers who commit abhorrable murders cannot have a religion nor
We are appealing to terrorists averring to fight
for the Armenian cause: We do not grant to anyone the right to commit loathful and
inhuman crimes in the name of the Armenian race, neither the right to gamble with
the fate of this race.
It is nobody’s privilege to slander the
Armenian race who is peaceful, constructive, religious, diligent and artistic in
character and fidel to its state by killing in a perfidious manner innocent people
in streets as is the practice of the tools of international terrorism.
We do appeal to all Armenians spread out all over
the world: fight against such actions which blemish the Armenian race and are a
prejudice to our name. Oppose yourselves to fallacious interpretations and do not
allow treacherous ideas to sprout. Avoid being misled by those aiming at sowing
sedition and discord among two communities which have merged all along centuries in
friendly and brotherly feelings.
We do further appeal to all religious leaders in
there are important responsibilities and duties incumbent upon us on this subject.
We must cooperate for the purpose of enlightening public opinion at every
opportunity and must
never concede to this fiendish terror and must join all forces to prevent same.
We do also appeal to those states patronizing
international terrorism: your present tolerance of the growth of terrorism against
other states will some day in the future cause you even greater troubles. You have
to prevent terrorism and terrorists by taking radical and definitive measures in
sincere cooperations with other states of the world, as our great state has done.
We wish that all states, acting on the principle
“peace in the land, peace in the world,” of the great Atatürk,
founder of our state, should discard minor selfish considerations and should take
recourse to all serious and sincere measures for the sake of humanity.
We pray to God to safeguard humanity, our land
and our nation from all grief.
ATA-USA, April/July 1983
Diaspora Armenian Sizes Up an Armenian Turk
What a week in Montreal! We had the pleasure
of hosting 2 media professionals. One from Turkish-Armenian newspaper/electronic
"Agos", Hrand Dink and the other from "Armeniaweek.com" &
"AIM", John Hughes. Since I am a communications guy, I made a point of attending
both events. The first was held by the "Bolsahay" (Armenians from Istanbul)
association. It was supposed to start at 8… the guy walked in at 9p.m. to a full room
(about 130) of mostly seniors and about 20 youth. To my dumbfounded surprise, he received
a standing ovation as he walked in. I couldn’t help but laugh. I mean, I went with a
very hopeful and open mind, but this was ridiculous. I told myself that I would give the
guy a chance and hear what he had to say.
Hrant Dink; lately, he appears to be siding more with the views of the
Here is a quick summary. Mr.
Dink started with a statement that threw me off. He stated that Turkish Armenians are
afraid to stand up for what they believe and to pronounce proudly what they know in their
hearts… I was amazed! Finally an "insider" telling it like it is. He continued
to talk about how Armenians usually make statement either based on their hearts (feeling)
or based on their minds (logic). He insisted that in order to be more objective and true,
one had to find a balance between these two approaches… not bad. I was more and more
impressed by this 47 year old father of 3. Then, he started to talk about issues, the real
stuff. Here is where I had trouble with his ideas
At first, he said that it is in vain that the Diaspora is putting so much effort to get
the governments like France, USA and Italy to recognize the Genocide.
He thought that "we", the Diaspora, were using our ancestors’ lives as a means
of negotiations between Turkey and other nations… His explanation was that Jacques
Chirac wrote a letter (that was published in the Turkish newspapers) saying how upset he
was that Turkey decided to cancel a helicopter deal with a French company… So, I ask
you, who is making this into an economic issue? Is it not Turkey? Should we be threatened
by that? Or use it for the purposed of Hay Tad?
Then he went to say that the corridors should start opening between Armenia and Turkey.
Although I agree with this statement, I think that we should learn from our history and do
this carefully. We should be able to negotiate the terms of this exchange and flow of
goods. Otherwise we will once again be backstabbed and lose out.
Then, he insisted that we, the Diaspora, should help Turkey become democratic and join the
EU… is he nuts? Strategically, we have a good deal going for us here. The Turks (or a
good majority) want to join, then shouldn’t this be the right time to put forth some
conditions for Turkey?
He thinks that it was a mistake on behalf of the EU to have put the Armenian genocide as a
pre-condition. In his opinion, it would be wiser to have Turkey part of this Union where
they will have no choice but to follow certain guidelines.
OK, #1) Turkey is part of NATO (a so-called democratic and peaceful alliance) it is also
part of the U.S.-Israel-Turkey military deal… have they followed any guidelines to get
rid of their atrocious human rights deeds?
#2) the more they are faced with human rights violations, the more Armenians will be able
to point their fingers and say…" look, they still haven’t learned their lesson.
What they did to Armenians on their land almost a century ago is still being done today to
Kurds, Christians and other minorities…"
All in all, I applaud this man for his courage to speak about issues that have been taboo
for the past decades in Turkey. He and many others are finally speaking out against their
government’s ignorant and harmful policies, something that the rest of the Diaspora has
learned to do since the ‘70s.
John Hughes was great, I enjoyed his
readings and his book… he is worth
a full log at a later date.
Raffi Niziblian, Monday, March 18, 2002
Armenians are afraid to stand up for what they believe and to pronounce proudly what
they know in their hearts..."
Wow. That's pretty revealing.
Well, let's look
at it this way. The Turks in Turkey are unhappy with the near total-control the
Diaspora has worldwide, maligning the good name of the Turks. No Armenian Turk would
automatically get beaten up for speaking his mind (not to say numbskulls don't
exist who would get violent), but it's likely most Armenian Turks would think twice
about speaking as freely as they would wish, fearing they would be looked upon as
traitors. They understandably have reason to be proud of their ethnic heritage, as
any human being... and since the overwhelmingly successful barrage of Armenian
propaganda seems to have infiltrated the fabric of Turkish society (what with
Turkish books written by the likes of Taner Akcam and Levon Marashlian available in
Turkey, Turkish Turncoats like Halil Berktay [teaching in an Istanbul university],
and even some beginning-to-be-brainwashed Turkish teachers presenting the
"Genocide" as fact to Turkish classrooms... as revealed in this letter by a
Turkish citizen), how is an Armenian Turk
going to express his or her pride? The Armenian "Genocide" has become the raison
d'etre of the Armenians. In the United States at least, one can no longer think
of the word "Armenian," without adding "Genocide."
has been the single most fundamental issue defining the Armenians' identity in
this century. Its importance for Armenia and the Diaspora cannot be understated.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Armenia
So how will an Armenian Turk want to express ethnic
pride? He or she is going to say... I want to get in on some of that genocide
action! However, since the bulk of Turks in Turkey aren't brainwashed yet (keep
workin' on it, Diaspora Armenians!), an Armenian Turk is going to feel pretty uneasy
about shouting his ethnic Armenian pride to his angered countrymen, who are so
painfully aware of having gotten such a raw deal from the West.... on this, and
countless other issues.
However... you get all kinds. I don't think all Armenian Turks are the way Hrand
Dink says they are. Just like all Diaspora Armenians aren't hateful fanatics; I know
there are many silent Diaspora Armenians who love their Turkish roots and are proud
of their Turkish connection, and would like nothing better than to have the idiotic
genocide loudmouths among them to just go away. (Too bad almost none of them have
the courage to speak out... Armenians are as single-willed a monolithic people as
must have existed in human history.)
I think many Armenian Turks have a genuine love for their country and for their
nation's people, and are fully aware of the reasons behind the Falsified Genocide...
and refuse to buy into the nonsense. After the following report is the tragic story
of one of them.
TURKISH ARMENIANS ARE
Turkish Armenian are envied by the Armenians, who live in Armenia or outside
of Armenia and who do not live in comfort due to their economic difficulties
and ideological pressure imposed by their respective state administrations.
Public polls used as a reference for surveys carried out in less developed
countries such as Armenia and Lebanon, reveal interesting facts. In such
countries volunteers have been asked the question "In which country would
you prefer to live now?" 43 % preferred the USA, 15 % France and 27,8 %
Turkey. The remaining preferred various European countries such as the United
Kingdom and Italy.
Another striking result that came out of the answers given to the questions in
the public polls was that as many as 63 % of the Armenians preferred Istanbul
as the "city" to live in. According to the given answers, Armenians
living out of
Armenia wish to live a comfortable life in Turkish cities because the Armenian
Patriarchy is located in Istanbul since many centuries, the Turkish Armenians
are provided privileges and Armenian cultural works of art, mainly the
churches, are delicately preserved.
Experts, pointing out that this was an anticipated process of change, mention
that the realistic and peaceful rhetoric of the Armenian Patriarchy had a
greater impact on the Armenian people than was expected.
An important factor that attracts the moderate Armenians all over the world to
Turkey is that Patriarch Mesrop MUTAFYAN II pronounces on every occasion their
comfortable and peaceful life in Turkey. As it is known, an official statement
was made by the Patriarchy in February 2001 signed by the executive boards of
all the foundations, associations and other similar institutions in Turkey
stating its pride for "the 540 years old Patriarchy, 2 hospitals, 57
churches, 58 foundations, 18 schools, 17 associations, 2 sporting clubs, 3
newspapers, 5 periodicals and tens of non-governmental organizations."
As it is known, being a concrete manifestation of all kind of freedom in
Turkey, this kind of living standard that is shown as an example for being
capable of affording all the demands of the Armenian community and that is at
a level envied by all the other countries including Armenia, shall certainly
arouse the hatred of Armenians who have a racist tendency.
Researcher-Journalist -- Dec 5, 2003
LETTER OF ARTIN PENIK
I am protesting in the name
of the Patriarch and all Turkish Armenians, and burning myself.
You, ASALA murderers!
Nothing can be done by killing innocent people. You are deceived by the
imperialists. History is told very wrong to you. Hundreds of thousands of people
disappeared by the trick of imperialists. Use your mind! They are misleading you.
Now, there are some thousands of Armenians living here and there. Do you intend to
abolish them, too? But you will never manage to do that. We want to continue our way
of life that we are leading fraternally together with Turkish people. But if you go
on killing innocent people without mercy, I swear in the name of God that you will
all be exterminated. Use your mind! As far as we know, Armenians are brave and never
kill innocent people from behind. We never regard you as Armenians. We are cursing
you. You, the former president of France, Giscard
D'Estaing, all Armenians are cursing you.
If you had not disregarded
their actions to get their votes, they would not have been so arrogant.
I have many more things to
write, but I find no reason to do it. When necessary, the Turkish Nation will punish
I wish God bless those who
have lost their lives up to now, and patience to their relatives. May God give
patience to my Turkish Citizens. 'Bye.
The preceding was a suicide letter by Artin Penik, who set
fire to himself himself
in Istanbul's Taksim Square on August 10, 1982, in order to protest Armenian
terrorism against Turkey. The translation (taken from this Turkish web site,
where an image of the newspaper article has been reproduced) was not well written, and I
took the liberty of correcting the English... as far as I could understand, anyway.
I wonder whether Penik's death made any kind of an impact on Western
media.... I'd be interested in learning how widely the story was picked up, if at all. I'd
venture his death was largely in vain, at least as far as influencing his fellow
Armenians... they probably concluded the evil Turks murdered Penik and orchestrated the
After writing the
above, I discovered a filmed interview of Artin Penik on his deathbed, which may be accessed here. It's very, very sad. Here is a transcript of the
(One of our Armenian citizens has set
fire to himself to protest against ASALA)
Artin Penik on his deathbed
My message to the whole world is to mobilize against them. One
day, this is all going to explode; at that point, believe me, all states will then
have their hands full. I've been in Europe for 23 years. I've been to America. I
know them. I couldn't bear it any more; I did it as a lesson for them. For them to
give it up...
This was a game of imperialists...
They will disturb Turkey and they want to lead Turkey to a war again. Their aim is
to disturb Armenians or I don't know... to slander Turkey in front of the world's
I ask all governments in the world.
Believe me, I can try to commit suicide again without blinking an eye. I made up my
mind in a second. My decision was to commit suicide in front of the French embassy,
because it all started with them at the beginning.
If they had punished them at the right time, they wouldn't have been spoiled that
much. They ignored it to get votes.
Penik speaks passionately, while breathing very hard.
It's a very dramatic, very heartbreaking scene
When I was committing suicide there I
thought and I changed my mind. I chose to commit suicide in the presence of Atatürk,
whom I like so much.
I can do it again. I didn't consult
anyone to do this activity. I decided by myself. I can do anything for my country.
Interviewer: We wouldn't want to tire you. You talked about mobilizing,
Penik: Yes, I am asking for mobilization to the whole world. Please, I am
begging you, they have to be terminated, or otherwise all governments and all states
will be affected harmfully. They have already been affected by them.
My message for foreign states is: If
you mobilize against them, it is possible to terminate these terrorists. But if you
ignore them, the guns will turn toward you one day. That would be so bad, they will
Interviewer: You said that you could do this activity for a thousand times, is that
Penik: Yes, I could do it a hundred thousand times without batting an eye. I live
for my country; I could do this activity again without consulting anyone. We share
the sympathy of the Turkish people.
(Artin Penik died two days after this interview.)