Tankian Urges Turks to ‘Truly Find Yourself’

Serj Tankian

ISTANTBUL—Armenian-American musician Serj Tankian, in an open letter published in the Turkish-Armenian weekly, Agos, urged the people of Turkey to face history and “truly find yourself,” enlightening the Turkish public to their government’s rabid efforts to deny the Armenian Genocide.

The text of the letter is presented below:

“Dear People Of Turkey,

My name is Serj Tankian. I’m a Lebanese born Armenian American New Zealander. All four of my grandparents come from the area known as modern day Turkey. My grandfather Stepan hailed from Efkere in Kayseri, while my grandmother Varsenig came from Tokat.

My other grandparents were from Dortiol and Ourfa. None of them left on their own free will.

They were all survivors of the horrible Genocide committed by the Ittihad government during the last days of the Ottoman Empire.

They were all small children at the time. My grandfather Stepan was saved and spent time in an American orphanage as well as a Greek one before arriving in Lebanon as a refugee. My grandmother Varsenig and her grandmother were saved from slaughter by a Turkish mayor who risked his own life to do the right thing.

These are not some stories in the archives of Turkey or other nations. These are the true stories of my family.

Over 600 years ago the areas where my grandparents came from were known as historic Armenia. When anthropologists dig in Turkey, they find the remains of our civilization along with Helenic/Greek and others.

Turkey is very important to me not just because my grandparents came from there but because my whole race came from those lands that were forcefully taken from them, not by war, or in the changing of borders but by the brutal orders of the Ittihad Government. What does this all mean to us today? It’s quite simple. Armenians don’t want to hassle Turkey, or create racial divisions, we just want justice so we can all move on from this historical pain that strains our relationship. This is not just about Armenian history but also the history of Turkey.

Will Erdogan’s government do the right thing by coming to terms with all of this? I don’t think so. Neither will the military juntas that have ruled Turkey throughout modern history.

Do you know that your government spends millions of dollars every year to deny this truth in foreign capitals by hiring all sorts of lobbying firms and setting up chairs at universities to re-create the truth to its liking? Do you know how that feels as an Armenian? What a painful experience this is? Is it not enough that I am the grandson of survivors of a horrible tragedy of history? Must I fight propaganda and corruption internationally to regain justice?

Turkey’s modern turmoil to find itself has a lot to do with us Armenians. Our histories, geographies, and blood are too close not to resolve these issues.

Both Armenians and Turks deserve leaders and governments that are truly egalitarian, democratic, and non-corrupt to start with. In closing, I just want to say thank you to all of the amazing people I’ve met from Turkey who have shared their stories with me while on tour and online and have given me hope of a rapprochement based on truth and justice.

My wish, Dear People of Turkey, is for you to truly find yourself”.


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  1. Norin Radd said:

    I think this perhaps is a noble and altruistic effort on behalf of Mr. Tankian to attempt to “reach out” as an artist. However, I think it comes from a naïve and short sighted perspective of such notions actually achieving results in terms of garnering support from the very Turks that helped murder Armenians before, during, and after 1915. What Mr. Tankian metaphorically is attempting is to help an entire people understand that the “red” their government is feeding them is actually “blue”, but we must realize that we are dealing with a people that simply have no understanding of what color is, so how can anyone even believe that helping them understand the errors of their ways in terms what’s “red” actually being “blue” will work?

    You Mr. Tankian, are assuming and giving these animals far too much credit in terms of appealing to their “humanistic” side. You must understand that these beasts have had one goal and one goal only since the Seljuk Turks came to power hundreds of years ago, that is:

    1) Completely subjugate the populace of Anatolia and the Armenian Highlands

    2) those that cannot be subjugated, utterly destroy them and any remnants of their way of life through systematic Genocide.

    3) once steps 1 and 2 have been achieved, attempt to expand Turkish interests further and rinse and repeat until they have achieved intercontinental dominance.

    Pan Turanism/Turkism is in their primitive mentality, ingrained from childhood, blood thirst is also in their character. They nearly achieved their goals before they were stopped at the gates of Vienna, the mistake the Europeans made in WW 1 was to let these roaches survive and later thrive. Ataturk should have been drawn and quartered and Turkey should have been partitioned as originally planned, the Europeans after becoming fatigued squabbling amongst each other throughout WW 1, got tired and lazy to follow through and utterly destroy their enemy and humble their enemy. What happened to Germany in WW 2 should have happened to Turkey in WW 1 as well, their military should have been limited and their lands occupied for several decades under heavy financial taxation to teach them a lesson to never again rise up in aggression. WW 2 taught the Germans the lesson they needed to learn after instigating two World War’s due to their own aggressive policies, the Turks unfortunately were not taught this lesson for their deeds in WW 1 and only got a metaphorical slap on the wrist. Since then they have become emboldened again.

    What Ataturk did for these beasts (which consequently is why he is so revered in Turkey) was to hide their long term goals and blood thirst under the veil of “democracy” and “secularism” long enough during their weak moment of WW 1 for them to recover and get back on the horse. Fast forward 50 years and they are again “back on the horse” and once again just like during Seljuk and Ottoman times attempting to attain regional dominance over all those around them. If they achieve this, Europe will again see the true face of the “secular” Turk when they come knocking on the gates of Vienna once again. They breed like rats in European nations, when it suits them they pull out their Muslim cards to work with para military jihadists against European interests, then when the heat is on they pull out their “secularist democratic Muslim” cards to appease and lull Europe into inaction and complacency.

    On the eve of the 100th year of the Armenian Genocide during which more than 1.5 million Armenians Christians were slaughtered due to their ethnic identity as natives of the Armenian Highlands, Mr. Tankian is again sounding awfully naïve, pacifistic, and uselessly intellectual against a nation of beasts. Every single one of the “intellectual” Armenians that were murdered on April 24, 1915 spoke just as eloquently, altruistically, and naively when nearly 100 years ago they attempted to reach out to these beasts. I think its best that Mr. Tankian and many other Armenians realize that in the face of relentless aggression and animalistic barbarism, only an equally ruthless and merciless response will garner respect and resolution.

    You simply don’t bring an olive branch to a sword fight, please wake up from your “pen’s are mightier than swords” fantasy.

    • Arn.Sweden. said:

      Well – I think even you are to soft on bouth the Turks (and even Germany who will soon show its ugly face again).

      The Mayority of the People in Turkey is not Turks even though a great mix has occured.
      Turkey as a Turkish state should be outrooted altogheter,
      and by the way,

      Turkey will soon go on military adventure again.


    • bigmoustache said:

      I agree 100% and im sick and tired of Armenians and news media constantly trying to soften the blow for turkey, talking about the good muslims that “saved” us. lets remember the countless Armenians who were raised as muslims. the girls that were abducted, raped or made into wives for turks. yes there were a few good turks who saved Armenians but so little its not worth remembering.
      Armenians should be well aware that those who slaughtered our ancestors were not only soldiers or bandits but civilian Turkish populations that descended on Armenians like vultures.

  2. Berj said:

    That is the most honest and sincere letter or enlightenment anyone can respect and honor. I hope the People of Turkey read it and highly consider the outreach.

  3. shahe Jano Keshishian said:

    I too am a survivor and a descendent of My Family named Keshishoghlu. My family was very small and lived in Bebek, Yozghat. My family history dates back to 200 + years of Armanian Priests. They lived like cousines Turkish & Armenian were same. Find your identity similarly as I found mine. Love your cousin Shahè Keshishoghlu.

  4. Ana Lovesbooks said:

    He is a great Armenian! My grandparents stories are the same, and million others, they came from Urfa as well…..

  5. Vartine Kalaydjian said:

    Bravo Serj,
    Intch aghvor tsevov peranin kotsetsir…Thats what we call here “tapa com luvas de pelica ” meaning, aptagetsir gashii tsernotsnerov…

  6. Berge Jololian said:

    Genocide Acknowledgment without Accountability is hollow and meaningless.

    Acknowledgment must be accompanied with accountability; otherwise, the acknowledgment is worse than the denial.

    The word “Genocide” was coined by the Jurist Raphael Lemkin in 1943 to describe the 1915 genocide of the Armenians. When Dr. Lemkin was asked how he became interested in the Armenian genocide, he explained: “I became interested in genocide because it happened to the Armenians”. – (Source: CBS News Interview, 1948 on the occasion of the United Nations adopting the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – which cites the Armenian Genocide as an example).

    Why then others attempt to call the Armenian Genocide by a different word?
    – > To remove the genocidal criminal element of “Intent”, a key compnenet that constitues genocide.

    The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) refers to the events as the Armenian Genocide

    Why then refer to it by different label?
    –> To free genocidal-Turkey from Accountability: land, reparation and restitution.

    What matters is the *accountability* and specifically Armenian owned lands, assets, wealth of Armenians confiscated, not to mention the lives of 2 million people brutally murdered, reparation and restitution.

    Turkey remains genocidal and a lethal threat to Armenia and Armenians. No amount of apology or acknowledgment will ever be sincere or enough – it is Genocide Acknowledgment with *Accountability* that matters.

    • Arn.Sweden. said:

      Exactly !.

      I do think though that Armenia Herself has to put Tyrkey to Account,
      such an Opportunity will come in due time.


  7. Arn.Sweden, said:

    I dont think the Turks want to find themselves because they would not like what they would find.

    As the Bible puts it –

    Proverbs 28 –

    17 If a man willfully sheds the blood of a person [and keeps the guilt of murder upon his conscience], he is fleeing to the pit (the grave) and hastening to his own destruction; let no man stop him!

    Turkey would be Restless to Its wery death.