YEREVAN (Tert)—Armenians in Turkey’s eastern town of Mush have created a new Armenian organization called the Taron-Mush Union in an effort to preserve their national culture and identity.
Gevorg Chalesh, president of the newly-launched Taron-Mush Union, shared his plans and vision for the organization during a press conference in Yerevan on Monday. Chalesh said that the idea of uniting Islamized Armenians was not an easy one to realize in a town widely known for its religious fanatics.
“Our members are now Islamized Armenians who, despite having changed their religion, recognize their ethnic background, which is the most important thing. It is a very commendable fact. I heard from a Kurd one day that Mush and the surrounding regions have around 40,000 Armenians, of whom 90% have Armenian mothers and 10% [Armenian] fathers. That’s the situation in Mush,” Chalesh said.
Chalesh is in Armenia with a team to participate in the Pan-Armenian Games. “We immediately formed a team to come and take part [in the games]. It’s a pity though we suffered a defeat,” he said.
Speaking on the difficulties and challenges of setting up an organization like the Taron-Mush Union in Turkey, Aslan Hayetsi, another leading figure of the union, admitted that there are many risks in terms of angering Turks.
But he said the community should be resolute and fight to ensure that their children learn Armenian. “Everybody there knows we are an Armenians, and so we lead an ordinary life,” he said.
Simon Taronyan, a representative of Western Armenian organizations also attending the press conference, said he thinks it is time for Armenians around the world to forget about religious differences and recognize Armenians based on their ethnic origins.
“It doesn’t matter at all if one is a Muslim, Christian or someone with no belief; the important thing is that he or she considers him or herself an Armenian. There are Armenians everywhere—hidden and non-hidden—so we must be able to organize our communities and establish culture. We are trying to keep the center in Mush to put an end to those cowardly times,” he added.
The speakers at the press conference agreed that they now need school text books in Western Armenian, particularly on history, and said support from the Armenian government to assist in their efforts would be welcomed.