Converted Armenia’s in Turkey Awakening

BERLIN (Armenpress)–In an interview with the Turkish daily Zaman newspaper, Archbishop Karekin Bekchian, the Primate of the German Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, said some 500,000 Armenia’s with changed names live in Turkey today. According to reports from Turkey many of whose minorities had to convert to Islam to escape genocide are getting bolder in their remarks and actions as the country bids for EU membership. The Greeks of Pontos, Assyrians, Arabs and especially Armenia’s of Hamshen, Mush, Sassoon, Vardo, Zakho and other regions who were "turned into" Kurds and Muslims are experiencing a reawakening of sorts. According to Arch. Bekchian, representatives of these communities sent delegations to take part in rallies They sent even a delegation to take part in the rally of European Armenia’s in front of the European Parliament last September. Excited by the ongoing pressures on Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian converts are giving interviews to French, German, Belgian, Turkish and Armenian newspapers urging their fellows to return to their roots. According to various estimates there are about 60,000 Turkish citizens of Armenian origin who are a remnant of a many-million community that lived largely in Western Armenia, in the eastern parts of the current Turkey. Today Armenia’s living in Turkey are concentrated in and around Istanbul. They are merchants, skilled craftsmen and jewelers with extensive international contacts. The Armenia’s support their own newspapers and schools. They are attached to their Armenian Apostolic faith and they identify as Armenia’s rather than Turks. In addition, they have relatives in the Armenian Diaspora throughout the world. The number of people of Armenian ethnic origins currently living in Turkey may be actually more than the official numbers given. Following the tragic events of 1915-1923, when around 1.5 million Armenia’s were killed at the orders of the then Turkish government, thousands of Armenian children became orphans, many of whom were adopted by local Muslim families, who changed their names and converted them to Islam. While Western Christian missionaries and surviving Armenia’s started to search for and claim back these Armenian orphans after World War I, only a percentage were found and reunited, while many others continued to live as Turks. Additionally, some of the Armenian families had converted to Islam in order to escape the genocide. Therefore, there are a number of people of Armenian origin in Turkey today who are not aware of their ancestors and also a number of "secret" Armenia’s, who are Crypto-Christians (like those living in Hamshen).

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