LOS ANGELES—Last weekend, the Armenian Youth Federation hosted Nor Zartonk spokesperson and one of its founding members Sayat Tekir in Southern California, in an effort to bridge the gap between communities and build solidarity among organizations.
During his brief stay in LA, Tekir and Nor Zartonk met with the editorial board of Asbarez newspaper, visited local Armenian schools such as Armenian Mesrobian School, and aired an interview on the American radio station KPFK 90.7FM.
The AYF, in conjunction with Haytoug, its official publication, also organized a public forum, which provided the community with the opportunity to hear first-hand about the Nor Zartonk movement, the Turkish Armenian community and its recent 175-day sit in at Kamp Armen, which resulted in the return of the historic Armenian orphanage back to the community.
“We are dedicated to amplifying the victory of Kamp Armen’s occupation, and also redoubling our attention and efforts on the Armenian communities of Turkey and Occupied Western Armenia. Their stories are so important to hear, as they are struggling for their right to exist against the constant threat of violence in Turkey,” said Haytoug editor Razmig Sarkissian.
“The AYF looks forward to learning more about the diasporan communities in Turkey and continued solidarity for a more connected, stronger, and unified Diaspora. Though our demands for recognition, reparations and justice are universal, our privilege here is understated, as activists such as Sayat and the Nor Zartonk movement fight under the scope of a Turkish regime unafraid to persecute anyone they pose as a threat. We have complete admiration and respect for the movement and the community as we look forward to further cooperation,” stated AYF Chairperson Gev Iskajyan.
The centennial of the Armenian genocide saw a rise in activism from a multitude of Armenian communities. From 166,000 protesters in the streets of Los Angeles, worldwide recognition from countries like Austria and Paraguy, landmark reparation claims being brought on by the Armenian Church, and massive media attention by widely recognized press outlets and a declaration by the Pope, who reiterated the Vatican’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Through it all, some may argue that one of the biggest developments came from the heart of Turkey. In the Tuzla district of Istanbul the Nor Zartonk movement began the occupation of Kamp Armen, an Armenian orphanage attended by the likes of Hrant Dink that was confiscated from the Armenian community.
After 175 days of protest and occupation, under the constant cloud of threats and fear mongering from ultra-nationalists and the government alike, Nor Zartonk claimed victory as Kamp Armen was returned to the Armenian community. The movement, which marked a key return of Armenian property within Turkey, also put a spotlight on the Armenian community within Turkey, and organizations like Nor Zartonk, which fight for the very same demands but without the luxury of freedom found in other Armenian communities.