Diyarbakir Church Opening Sends Powerful Message

Hundreds from around the world gathered for the opening

BY KHATCHIG MOURADIAN
From The Armenian Weekly

DIYARBAKIR—Armenians from around the world flocked to Surp Giragos Church in Diyarbakir on Oct. 22 to attend both the consecration of the largest Armenian church in the Middle East and the Mass held the following day.

They were greeted with welcome signs written in Armenian, and with Armenian music playing on the streets, cafes, and hotels in the city.

Renovated by the Surp Giragos Armenian Foundation, with the support of the local Kurdish-controlled municipality, the church, which had witnessed a century of destruction, neglect, and denial, now stood as defiant as ever to the forces suppressing freedom in Turkey. And as the faithful of different religions prayed in unison, the political message wasn’t lost on anyone.

Diyarbakir Mayor Osman Baydemir underlined the importance of confronting the past and seeking justice as part of the process of reconciliation and democratization. In an interview with the Weekly, the Kurdish politician said many view the renovation as an act asking for forgiveness. “You are not our guests. We are your guests,” stressed Baydemir, who heads the Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality.

“It’s a bittersweet return for the Armenian nation,” Raffi Hovannisian, the chairman of Armenia’s Heritage Party, told the Weekly. “Here, in this courtyard, you see the great potential and the depth of the loss we as a nation have registered.”

Scott Avedisian, the mayor of Warwick, R.I., who was invited by the Diyarbakir Municipality to attend the opening, concurred. “The faces of people who once worshipped here, were forced out, survived, and have now returned to their church, attest to the fact that they never lost hope and never lost faith,” he said. The renovation constitutes a “powerful message,” he added, as the church is finally “being used for the very purpose it was originally intended.”

Osman Kavala, the president of “Anadolu Kultur,” an organization that promotes the art and culture of the region, said that “both the state and metropolitan municipalities provided full support for this project.”

“They are open to confronting the past and the responsibilities of the local population,” he said, and expressed his hope that one day the initiatives in Diyarbakir “will have an impact beyond the city, on the national policy.”

“Our grandparents, incited by others, committed wrongs,” Abdullah Demirbas, the mayor of the Sur Municipality in Diyarbakir, told the Weekly in an exclusive interview after the Badarak in Surp Giragos. “But we, their grandchildren, will not repeat them. Not only that, but we will also not allow others to repeat them.”

The challenge in Turkey, he added, is not only to renovate churches, but to renovate mentalities.

The Armenian Weekly, our sister publication on the East Coast, will continue to publish in-depth coverage and interviews from Diyarbakir and Mush throughout the week. Asbarez will provide additional coverage

Khatchig Mouradian is the editor of The Armenian Weekly

Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.

27 Comments

  1. The truth said:

    The Turkish PM maintained that, shoulder to shoulder with Azerbaijan, they will fight until ‎they “liberate” Karabakh from the Armenians
    http://news.am/eng/news/79300.html

    Enough is enough. The corrupt oligarchy regimes in Armenian (do not forget, even Dasnhaks ‎for poor motives were part of it!!!!) with there most untalented and paid parlamentarins ‎around them have made modern criminal Turkey to become more rude as it, as it was , and it ‎could be imaging be ever ! !‎
    ‎ ‎

    So called Armenian-Turkish protocols or “football diplomacy “being failed from the very ‎beginning, it is high time that Armenia ( all force united) bring up finally the peace the ‎Treaty of Sèvres (10 August 1920) and put it on the international agenda ‎

    Armenia has every opportunity and tools in the hand to send a clear message to modern ‎criminal Turkey;: Turkey should be made shut up !‎

  2. HARUT said:

    You know it is so inspiring seeng the same peoples grandchildren today to except what happen as a wrong
    and continue to betterthem selfs, specially mentioning that they are our guests we are not their guest, and i’m very sure in due time mentalities will be renovated, and i beleive strongly that Turkey needs the Armenian know how it is not quantity of the people that counts it is the quality that counts in the people so they are more than us in numbers but at the same time the knowledge is powerfull tool.

  3. bigmoustache said:

    this shows that the kurds are a very important ally to armenians. they are asking forgiveness meaning they dont hide the terrible past. the armenian state should invest and help in the kurds and the arabs. since the turks treat them poorly we should be their best friends. since muslims share a common religion, we should strenghten our friendship to maintain that wedge between turkey/kurds and turkey/arabs

    • Edward Demian said:

      Absolutely right. We need to think about how we are going to live with the Kurds in the future. We need each other. It took them 95 years to realize it. We need to accept it too. Any future Armenian presence in the old Western Armenia will have to deal with the reality od Kurdish and Turkish presence. DNA studies will help people reclaim their lost ethnic identity, but not all will wish to disrupt their lives and become Armenians or Greek again.

  4. Grish Begian said:

    All that money, those faithful Hayers spending in Diyarbakir for local Kurdish and Turkish people, such as hotels, food, transportation, should have spent in our main homeland of today, Armenia, or Artsakh, where they need the most!! Impoverished Kurdish regions once again needs Armenians for their economy, Turks treat them like 2-nd class citizens!!

    • Edward Demian said:

      The Armenian Republic is in it for itself. It does not care about Western Armenians and does not welcome Western Armenians. It only wants their money. While we love Armenia and all Armenians, we have not felt the same from that corner. Therefore, we the western Armenians need to support the reawakening of Western Armenians and proceed with reestablishing a community once again in Turkey.

      • Grish Begian said:

        You will be better off to fight injustice and corruption in Armenia, than facing “new” Turkish trap and Kurdish symapathizers for ecconomy!! There is one land one calture and one people and one Armenia and one Artsakh, East created by Persian Empire and West created by Byzantium, none of those Empires are alive today, and we have one common enemy “Turks”!!

  5. zohrab said:

    god bless all those who have excepted reality and did this noble gesture.many thanks

  6. Gomidas Jibelian said:

    It looks like we are witnessing the genesis of a new era: the ultimate reward for the unmitigated faith, and the unwavering hope that have fueled for centuries the Armenians soul.

    Յոյս ու Հաւատք

    Մոռնանք՛ լսելը,
    Մոռնանք՛ ըսելը,
    Մոռնանք՛ նոյնիսկ տեսնելը,
    Բայց ոչ՛ յուսալն ու հաւատալը։

    Յոյսով էին մեր նախահայրերը,
    Մեր հպարտ պապերը,
    Մեր մարտիկներն ու հերոսները։
    Յոյսով էին մեզ երկնող մայրերը։

    Յոյսն էր անխոնջ զորութիւնը
    Եղերնիի աղետեալներուն
    Անսփոփ, վհատած սիրտերուն.
    Հաւատքն էր լաստը փրկութեան
    Անապատի խրովահոյզ կոհակներու
    Հոյլերուն տակ խեղդամահ անմեղներուն։
    ։
    Հայը մահացաւ
    Բայց չի կորաւ.
    Աճիւնը անոր անմա՛ր
    Յոյսի թեւերուն վրայ կենարար,
    Ծնունդ առաւ օտար ափերու մէջ։
    Ծաղկեց խոպան, չարակամ դաշտերու մէջ,
    Բարգաւաճեց եռանդով ու ծարաւով անշէջ,
    Կրթեց ու մարզեց սերունդ մը նոր
    Իր հին հողէն ու սրբավայրերէն հեռա՜ւոր։

    Հաւատքն է՛
    Անաչար արծարծողը
    Հայու սիրտին ջերմի տոչորումը.
    Յոյսն է՛
    Լուսաւորիչի կանթեղին իւղը,
    Մեսրոպի,Նարէկի լեզուի՛ն ծաւալումը։

    Թո՛ղ չի մարի երբէ՝ք սիրտնուս յոյսի շողը,
    Յաղթահարենք՛ մեզ տանչող ահն ու դողը,
    Բարցրաճակատ քալենք՛դէպի մատղաշ
    դաշտերը
    Կրկին ցանելու յոյսով ու հաւատքով վաղուայ
    սերունդին սերմերը։

    Ուր որ յոյսը կը շողայ հաւատքը հեռու չէ
    անկէ։
    Ուր որ հաւատքը կը թագաւորէ, կասկածները
    վտարուած են անկէ։

    Կոմիտաս Ճիպէլեան
    2011

  7. Stew said:

    So then, how many Mosques will be renovated and restored as reciprocation back in jolly old Yerevan? You people bulldozed the last of two that were left just last year (leaving only one in the city, which you can’t demolish now, not in front of the whole world…too bad you didn’t demolish that one also when you had the chance, when you destroyed the others [in the middle of the night]…then you could have blamed it on the Turks or the Azeris AND feigned being the usual “victim”!).

    • Edward Demian said:

      We actually spent a lot of money to renovate the Blue Mosque in Yerevan. And it mostly sits empty. Yerevan is a thriving city and it needs the space for redevelopment, and housing. The Tatar inhabitants, SOLD their properties and left for better opportunities in Azerbaijian. If you are interested in cultural and historic preservation, you should notice that every Armenian church in Nachitcevan has been completely dismantled.
      By the way STEW, what is your real name? Mehmet, Ali? I ve seen your name in every hateful anti Armenian site I visited.

    • The Truth said:

      ‎ @Stew , I am sure your grandpa – Mustaf or Ahmed is wearing atill the same old shoes ‎stolen form deported Armenians and your family do leave in house , which had an Armenian ‎owner, like the Turkish president palace- ‎
      Stop crying for “Azeris” , Alivey is crying every day for them!‎
      return Western Armenia and stolen Armenian wealth and church gold to Armenians , return ‎churches which being turned to Mosques, return “Istanbul” to its rightful owners and we ‎will speak latter about your “Mosques “- in a time as Yerevan was a village Armenians were ‎busy building Baku – http://www.baku.am‎
      Lever Western Armenia ‎

      Go get your life ‎

    • Hye said:

      Please, do tell me of these two mosques in Yerevan we apparently demolished. I sincerely want to find out.

      After all the atrocities we suffered under that bloody crescent moon, any other peoples would have been defecating in and burning down the mosques (like you do), but instead we renovated it, because unlike your barbaric bunch, we appreciate culture.

    • Basil said:

      Lets make a deal, every single church (3000) for thoat dozen or so mosques, would that be ok? Lets not be anachronistic though, initially the first 1000 churches then 2 or so mosques, ok?

      Oh, by the way: you do realize that these churches were standing in free and independant countries, while those mosques you are talking about smybolize nothing but occupation and turkification? (you know “Irevan” and whatnot)

      And by the way.. those cute Azeri lies about being repressed by Armenians (illogical, because according to those same Azeris Armenians always were a mere minority in the Caucasus) are supposed to fuel regret within which Armenian part of the population? Because you know, unlike with Azeris we dont make up stories about a real history by trying to miniscule our neighbours, in this case the Kurds. Because this opening wouldn’t be possibe if we did.

    • Avery said:

      Stewie-oglu:

      you show us evidence that, quote, “…You people bulldozed the last of two “, and I’ll show you evidence, including satellite imagery, of how in 2005 Azeri troops completed the destruction of the last of the 10,000 Armenian Khachkars in Azeri-occupied Nakhichevan. A destruction that had been going on for years.

      And as to restoring Churches vs Mosques: always remember Turk-oglu, that Armenians adopted Christianity in 300 AD, 1700 years ago. Islam is about 1,100 years old. Armenians had been building Churches in Caucasus and Armenian Highlands for centuries when Muslem Seljuk Turks invaded around 1,000 A.D.
      Who had built religious objects first ?
      Who destroyed whose religious objects first ?
      Who committed blasphemy against religious objects of the other party first ?

      Still not convinced ?
      What are those minarets doing around the Christian Church Hagia Sophia ?

  8. vzgo said:

    Stew Where were the two imaginary mosques in Armenia / do you know their locations? Were they destroyed by who?
    Turkey should stop creating more lies especially when they cannot handle the truth they just create another lie.

  9. harry said:

    my dear friends lets understand one thing , turkey will never except the idea that genocide ever happened , due to expres recovory of all the lands that was taken by the ottoman republic, and damage caused to all none muslim people in the area, including assryians , suryanis, aerminians, zazas, kurds, greeks,,,, this move was to clear turkey from outsiders which in reality is the owners of the land,,, if we can atleast make peace with the people of the land ,, so we can visit our former citys and churches, and towns that we lived in.. to remmeber our dad people,which lie there in vain….there blood was spilled…..

  10. harout said:

    Do you think the Kurds really care for the Armenian people? They are guilty just like the Turks! They were both involved in the Genocide! Today, politic in Turkey is different, Kurds are internationally known as terrorist in todays era. They need to look better in this world by sounding sympathetic towards the Armenian people for there lost. The truth is that they hate us, not only them, but many nationalities,due to the fact that we are hard working and smart people and prosper too quick. If one Armenian makes a mistake the whole world has to hear, but if a jew still, its o.k. We in reality hate everyone as well! For us Armenians we don’t consider odars as humans. I,m Proud to be Armenian. I live in a place were there are no Armenians, Our values are the highest thats why god blessed our people and no one else!

  11. Hagop said:

    Roupen quotes in his ‘Memories of an Armenian Revolutionary’ (5th vol, 5th chapter), that Kurds have placed their brain in their eyes and Armenians have placed their brain in their ears. Today after 75 years when these words were written and more recently after the so called protocols and now this Diarbekir stuff, we Armenians still behave like if we still had our brain in our ears in addition of having also placed it in our ears. It is time to place our brain in it’s right place (somewhere behind our eyes and ears) and think what is good for us and what is not

  12. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    I am well aware that Kurds killed more Armenians than the Turks did. I bear no ill will or hatred towards them. They have admitted that it was wrong what they did. That’s all I’m asking of you Turks. Why can’t you admit that it was wrong to kill all of those innocent docile and obedient Christian communities whose only sin was being Christians, not only in 1915 but for centuries before and decades after big genocide? That’s all that we’ve been asking. Come clean with us and we’ll embrace you too.

  13. Edward Demian said:

    We stil blame the Kurds. They were and are being punished by the Turks. Time and time again, the Kurdish authorities have expressed regret. What else do we want? They did not profit much from the genocide. In fact, we were supporting them, so when we were gone, the kurds suffered greatly. The wealth stolen from the Armenians, went to the Turkish government, mor exactly the (CUP) party. The Turkish government needs to compensate us not the Kurds. And what about the Circassians. The Cherkez cavalry were very active in the actual slaughter. What about the Tatars?

*

Top