YEREVAN (Armenpress) — Dersim Armenian Mihran Gultekin Savior believes that Turkey’s policies have not changed as it continues expelling Armenians and Kurds to replace them with Turkmens living abroad.
Savior, who returned to his Armenians roots years ago, told Armenpress journalists the following. “Today Kurds and Turks fight in Turkey, but Armenians are always under focus. Under those conditions hidden Armenians try to keep their real identity more covert. The Turkish state regularly tries to speculate the Armenian factor in this struggle. In fact, Armenians are always to blame,” the Dersim Armenian said.
As for the number of hidden Armenians in Turkey, Savior added that the number might be around 3-4 millions. “The reason of such a great number of hidden Armenians in Western Armenia is conditioned by the fact that they are oppressed there, and when they decide to unveil their identity, they encounter difficulties. That is why they keep it in secrecy, but when we conduct private conversations, they easily unveil their identity and say that they are Armenians,” said Savior.
He converted to Christianity 6 years ago and his wife, Karin Gultekin, was baptized 3 years ago in Germany. They plan to settle in Armenia.
Founders of “Union of Dersim Armenians” Savior and his wife plan to move and settle in Armenia. They will apply for Armenian citizenship today, on March 2.
Karin explained in an interview that, “We live in a country where we were massacred, forced to accept a religion that is alien for us. We do not wish to live in Turkey. After this interview I and Mihran will apply for citizenship.”
Karin discussed how they were continuously targeted in Turkey. Even when they were still Muslims, everybody pointed at them saying “Look, she is Armenian.” After being baptized she had to relinquish her job in a restaurant where she used to work for 15 years as they said they are not going to “eat from the hands of a gavur (non-Muslim).” “What is the difference? You are Muslim and I am Christian. I do not want to live an enforced life. I want to be saved from all these,” Karin added.
Karin and Mihran have two sons who welcome the decision of their parents to move to Armenia. “Both of my sons are baptized. One of them now studies in Germany and the other one is a journalist. Both call me and often say “mother, do what you want, do not be afraid.” I finally made up my mind to do that,” Karin said.
The day before the interview with Armenpress, Karine visited Armenian Genocide memorial complex and museum with her family memebers. It was difficult for Karin to speak, saying, “It is impossible to display the grief or talk about it. Of course, we knew about the genocide, and we had read always read about it. My mother even used to tell about the massacres… The grief cannot be forgotten. It is the only thing that cannot be swiped away from one’s memory.”
Though Karin has not yet decided what she will do after moving to Armenia, but she confidently says, “I am a hard working woman, I will do any job,” and added with a smile, “I will come for sure.”
During the press conference that included Karine and Mihran, the writer of the film “Pure State of the Soul”, Ughur Egemen Ires and his grandfather Harutyun Ire were also present to tell the story of their identity. “Pure State of the Soult” is a film depicting the story of Dersim Armenian Harutyun Ires or Yeritsyan, who adopted Christianity and returned to his Armenian identity at the age of 70.
It will be screened at the Yerevan State University on March 3.
Egemen Ires tried to convey through the film experiences of every crypto-Armenian family, which reflects the public’s perception around the issue.
Harutyun Ires was born in Dersim, but in 1938, when he was a child, his family was exiled to Kütahya but returned to Dersim years later.
“Our elders told us that while being exiled, Armenians were pushed into cars and taken away to an unknown place and brutally killed. Some survived, including my family. We were children, they hid us and we survived, “Harutyun Ires said. He still has the vivid memory of his childhood and remembers seeing when his parents were secretly praying. But when they asked about it, their parents did not explain, urging them not to interfere in these issues. “Then, when we went to school, people were saying ‘These are Armenians.’ We asked our parents what is an Armenian, but we were told that it doesn’t concern us.”
According to various estimates, there are more than 1 million crypto-Armenians living in Turkey, but in because of the fear they live in, they are reluctant to speak about it.