BY RUBINA PEROOMIAN, Ph.D.
The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Conference, with interesting panels on various topics covering all periods in different disciplines including history, literature, art, media, law, religion, political science, sociology, etc., on all aspects of the Middle East occurred on November 21-24 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) annual meeting was also held, as always, in conjunction with the MESA Conference and received a fairly good attendance.
It was exciting to see the presence of young scholars devotedly engaged in the studies of the Middle East bringing novelty in methodology and approach to the proceedings. It was also encouraging to see the presence of Armenian scholars in various panels dealing with Armenian and non-Armenian topics. Obviously, it was impossible to follow the theme and topics of all the panels, 222 altogether, but judging from the title of the panels and presentations, denialist panels were thankfully absent from this conference. Despite this, in almost all the Armenian panels, or others with somehow related topics (approximately 8-10), there was a “concerned Turk” in the audience that used the Q&A period of the panel as an opportunity to vent grievances about the “Turkish suffering” at the hands of Armenians during World War I, as well as in the 1970s and 80s.
In this brief account of the MESA Conference, I’d like to focus on the panel in which I was a presenter. For those interested in all the Armenian related topics, the conference program and all the abstracts are accessible on the MESA website: www.mesa.arizona.edu/annual/program.htm. Our panel was organized by Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian of CSU Fresno, with three panelists, a chair, and a discussant, and was titled, “Remembrance and Reconciliation: Themes in Armenian and Turkish Literature.” Marc Mamigonian of the National Association for Armenian Research and Studies (NAASR) chaired the panel aptly providing a broad background for the presentations and introducing the theme and each of the presenters. Fatma Ulgen, a Turkish Ph.D. candidate and professor at UC San Diego, served as the panel discussant and brilliantly highlighted the important issues in all three papers, adding her own amazing insight and knowledge in the history of Turkish-Armenian relations. She also conducted a fruitful and stimulating period of comments and Q&A. Fatma Ulgen had also been a presenter in the panel “Turkish Armenians after 1915” the day before with a most interesting analysis of the treatment of the Armenian issues in Turkish textbooks in the Republican era. Her paper was titled “Social Diffusion of Turkish Denial: A Textual Overview of Turkish School Textbooks 1930-2000.
Professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian, the third panelist, took the work of a single author, Fethiye Çetin, and analyzed the way she had been affected by revelations that her grandmother is Armenian. In his presentation, titled “Memory and Identity in Fethiye Çetins’s Memoir, My Grandmother,” Der Mugrdechian illustrated the pervasive influence of the catastrophe on Armenian memory and identity, especially on a generation of Turks who discover their own ties to the past. He particularly noted: “Representations of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 have appeared infrequently in Turkish literature. The genre of the memoir provides an opportunity to explore the impact of a new revelation, on memory and identity. Fethiye Çetin’s memoir My Grandmother (2008), revolves around the revelation that her grandmother is not Turkish, but Armenian. Her grandmother is a survivor of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and endured the traumatization of those events. She later marries a Turkish man and raises a family, while always maintaining her memory of the long ago events.” Der Mugrdechian dealt with the questions of how this revelation affected a young woman’s sense of identity and memory and how she faced up to society’s perceptions of the Armenians and her own newfound information. He analyzed the reconceptualizing of identity by the author in her native Turkey and concluded: “The memoir reveals the healing power of knowledge and how the knowledge changed her identity and self-perception. . . . It is part of the recent movement in Turkish literature to begin to address the events of 1915 in a literary fashion and brings new light to the subject.”
Muge Salmaner, the second panelist, a Turkish Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington, focused on the film “Ararat” to show “how Atom Egoyan represents the transmission of traumatic events on both a social and familial level in his meta-cinematographic film Ararat (2002).” In her paper entitled “Cinematographic Representation of Trauma in Atom Egoyan’s Ararat,” she examined “the process of dealing with Armenian remembrance and Turkey’s denial of genocide through the theoretical lens of trauma and memory studies on attempts to establish essential historical truth by either collectively remembering or forgetting.” Ulgen addressed questions such as “who the agencies of memory are and who has the authority to represent the past while considering the limit of representing traumatic events through the ambiguous accounts.” She asserted that “Egoyan’s Ararat deals with the mourning process of the Armenian catastrophe, which reflects the effects of trauma on four generations of a family after 1915. Some of the later generations’ trauma is not related with the genocide; however, Egoyan manages to tie the conflicts among generations by comparing collective and individual traumatic experiences. . . . By making a film-within-a-film Egoyan is able to tell multiple stories from different points of view. This structure creates a space for the director to be self-critical and self-reflexive, which is meta-fictional or rather meta-cinematographic as well as conscious of its own condition of production.” Ulgen rejected viewpoints that label the film as a genocide film or a “propaganda film,” and stressed on Egoyan’s own view of genocide films as “kitschy and one-dimensional because of their limited representational ability within historical epic melodrama.” Applying the new approach of trauma theory to comprehend the representation of the trauma and its limits, she went on showing how “the attempts to reconstruct individual/collective trauma and the limits of it depend on ‘who’ constructs it and ‘why’ they have done so.”
I was the first panelist and my paper, titled “Dare to Remember – The Istanbul Armenian Literature and the Unabated Memory of a Tragic Past,” focused on the silence and the echoes of pain and nostalgia. The following is the abridged text of the paper based on which I made my 20-minute-presentation:
It couldn’t be self-censorship, like in the case of many Soviet Armenian Writers. It was the ever-present shadow of repression and persecution. In a situation where even speaking in the Armenian language in public was forbidden by law of proper public behavior, how could the Armenian literati in Turkey speak or write about a sensitive subject such as the massacres and deportations of their people in 1915? In that atmosphere of fear and political pressures, the established Armenian writers of the pre-1915, unable to freely express the suffering of their people, refrained from writing at all, or resorted to occasional outbursts of abstract melancholy.1
Arpiar Der-Markaryan typified that classic image of first generation survivor-writers in Turkey. He was born i
n 1889 in Khultig2, a village near Bitlis. He survived the 1894-96 massacres while the rest of his extended family of 57 were murdered. He also survived the 1915 brutal treatment and murder of the Armenian conscripts, but he kept all these harrowing memories to himself, never spoke or wrote about them. Writing in 1937, he described his present as “a posthumous life, without a smile, without dreams, a life suppressed by the shadow of death.…We carry the scars of old wounds on our face, and a new wound is cut in our hearts, a deadly wound that can’t be cured.”3 In a 1946 publication he recalled his native village, the church, where as a little boy he believed many saints had taken residence. “The saints are dead now,” he wrote, implying the fact that the village is depopulated, massacred, and the saints are abandoned, left to die.4 In one of his sketches, he portrayed one of his students calling him anapati tsnund,5 meaning born in the desert, that is, a child that was born to a refugee mother who had survived the hardship of the deportation route and reached Aleppo or another destination in the Syrian desert. This is as daring as Der Markaryan could get.
(Coincidentally, as I am writing this paper, I learned today (Aug. 5, 2009) about the passing of Sarkis Cherkezyan, (Sarkis Varpet), who was born in 1916 in a village near Aleppo. He was an anapati tsnund too. His life had been a continuous struggle against discrimination, prejudice, and persecution, but he never betrayed the memory of his murdered nation. He held on to the belief in the goodness of human beings and carried with patience and resolve the historical truth, kept it alive, and fought in his own way against those who chose to forget.)6
Arpiar Der Markaryan did not share his grief with anyone. His daughter reminisces: “Festive days were always emotional for me. I waited with fear for the moment when …. My father’s robust voice filled the air ‘Kanché krounk, kanché.’7 These were moments of nightmare for me. My father was in pain. That was not a song, but a prayer, a reunion with his lost loved ones. I would wish the song to end. Then, his voice would begin to tremble. He would swallow his tears silently. A suffering that seemed to never end.”8
This was just one example of many. In other instances, the children overheard elders whisper about their horrible experience as they got together in the confines of their close circle. Kemal Yalçin confesses in the end of his book, Seninle Guler Yuregim (You Rejoice My Heart),9 that it was very difficult to win the trust of his Armenian interviewee to speak freely and without apprehension. There had always been a cautious reservation, a conscious or subconscious drive to hide their past when talking to a Turkish friend. Whether these survivors spoke or wrote about their traumatic past or not, and in spite of the government’s banning of sensitive subjects in Armenian schools, the memories were transmitted directly or indirectly.
Hagop Mintzuri, born in 1886 in Armdan, a village near Agen facing the Dersim (Mintzuri) Mountains, was one of the very few who attempted to break the silence prevailing in Turkish-Armenian literature albeit in a cautious and covert manner. In his series of short stories, he depicted Armenian village life in the pre-1915 Turkey, as if to eternalize a reality that no longer existed and to leave its memory for posterity. And also, perhaps, with an ulterior motive or a subconscious intent: to stimulate the question, where are these Armenians now? These stories were, of course, written in Armenian for Armenian consumption, and the message in them was conveniently and obliquely concealed in descriptive details. His subtle references to the state of the Armenian Turkish relationship speak of the unstable and explosive nature of that relationship. It was friendly and amicable only as long as Armenians did not cross the line and passed their “limits.” Mintzuri’s memoirs are translated into Turkish in just the recent years, and now also speak to the heart of the Turkish reader. Could they help open a door?
Armenians in Turkey during and after World War II suffered discrimination worse than the Pre-W.W.I conditions. The draft of Armenian men in 1941 into the labor battalions was reminiscent of the Amele Tabouri of WWI; then, the Wealth tax in 1942 that not only physically but also spiritually ruined a generation of Armenians, affecting their social status, individuality, and identity. Andan Ozer is the only Armenian poet I know that alludes to this devastating event in two of his poems “Gar ou chgar” (There Was, and Was not) and “Veratarts Ashkaleen” (Return from Ashkale—one of the labor camps where those who could not pay the exorbitant taxes were exiled). Both were written in 1949-50.
Once there was, once there was not
Once there was a house
There were no chairs
A bleak room with four walls
On them, couple of pictures
That looked like fools with no underpants but hats on their head
There was the emptiness of the furniture gone
There was the not-wealthy tax (ch”Ounevorutian Tourk”) paying family of ours,
There was not…
Besides covert references to the past, the Istanbul-Armenian post-WWII poets looked for an outlet for expression in the innovative principles and norms of modern international literature. And with a unique perception of the world and humankind, they sang the loves, hopes, dreams and yearnings, pains and suffering of mankind, and the struggle for equality and justice. Onnik Fchjian’s poem, “Vacharorde” (The Vendor) best epitomizes this trait:
I sell oil; I sell honey,
Loving hearts I sell…
My baskets are inundated with
And I sell; I sell…
lies and deceit I want from you.
Unfortunately, Madame, there aren’t any.
They are all gone.10
Istanbul-Armenian poets successfully overcame their own emotions and replaced the “I” with the “collective I.” They replaced personal struggle with the collective one. Garbis Cancigian (Janjikian) was one principal figure and a pace-setter in the post-World War II Istanbul-Armenian poetry, followed by Zahrad (Zareh Yaldejian)11 and Zareh Khrakhuni (Arto Jumbushian).12 The burden of the past memories, however, never abandoned them. They expressed that cautiously, with images, often surrealistic, with symbols to create multiple meanings lending to multiple interpretations… The national remains obscure, barely noticeable; the poetry sounds harmless but reaches the reader’s intelligence. It reaches through art, through images, never expressed directly.
It is truly difficult to pinpoint the covert allusions to the history of the Armenian people and their present plight; Is Zahrat pointing to the gloomy fate of the Armenian people in Turkey, or this is a pessimistic look at human life?
Our birth is marked with black
Because we are born on a dark day (sev or)
For a black day
For a black sword
Our birth is for dying.
There are daggers, daggers, daggers suspended in sky
And we are masses of breathing corpses
sentenced to die
are escaping from under the daggers.
“Black sword” and “daggers hanging from the sky” are no doubt signifiers of the ever present Turkish threat and insinuations of past history.
Symbolism is the trend that the Turkish-Armenian poets embraced in response to the unleashed persecution s against minorities, renewed after Menderes’s fall and contemporary to the ban of speaking any language but Turkish (the campaign of “Citizen! speak Turkish”).
In another poem titled “Patmutiun” (History) about the birth of Rome by Romus and Romulus brothers, Khrakhuni writes,
Their totem was wolf
And ours was lamb
Here is the issue
The rest is history.
One cannot help thinking that the poet used the mythological images of the wolves to create an allusion of the history of the Turkish-Armenian relationship. Khrakhuni’s tribute to Mount Ararat, without naming the mountain and the people who hold it sacred, unlike hundreds of poems dedicated to Ararat through time, is a realistic delineation of the nation’s history, victories and even more defeats, the present predicament, but in all intents and purposes a symbol of the nation’s being, its struggle, its character, its dreams and aspirations.
Another example is Varteres Karageozian’s13 poem titled “Mets mayrige” (The Grandmother), published in the early 1960s. In simple imagery and scant wording, it portrays the history of a suffering nation:
She was a girl, still a blossom
they took his father away
she sat and wept with her mother
she became a bride, a young bride
they took her husband away
she sat and wept with her son
she was the guardian of her orphan son
they took her son too
she sat and wept with her daughter-in-law
now there is no fear
no massacres, and no war
but they took her grandson too
What was that – she sat and wept.
This portrayal corroborates with oral interviews of Armenian survivors who maintain that each and every generation born before and after 1915 has had its share of calamities and has suffered persecution.
The post-WWII socio-economic dire conditions in Turkey resulted in a wave of discontent obtaining political overtones with a slant toward Marxism and communism particularly among the young intellectuals. In response, the government tightened its control. A series of interrogations and incarcerations occurred. Istanbul Armenian intellectuals were targeted too, many were accused of conducting communist propaganda and having relations with the Soviet Union. Rupen Mashoyan attests to these persecutions and intellectuals being summoned to the Turkish Secret Service offices in Istanbul and questioned about a piece of their writing which was already translated into Turkish and waited the accused on the desk of the interrogating officer.14 Haygazun Galustian15 was one of those intellectuals and the composition in question was his poem titled “Irigune” (The Evening),
is waiting for her jobless husband
the flames of ripped-up papers
will turn the leaves of cabbage
she collected from the sidewalks in the outdoor market
into a meal
and the bread cutting knife on the table
waits for bread, bread, bread.16
Galustian confessed to his friends later that the woman collecting wilted cabbage leaves from the street was his own mother.
Characteristically, poetry as a genre of artistic expression in literature made remarkable strides especially in regards to articulating the Armenian plight past and present. In a way, it was easier to avoid censorship because of the allegorical and equivocal nature of a complex creation. On the other hand, one can say that it is easier to pin down dangerous allusions in a poem than in a fiction of much greater length.
In recent years, however, the wall of silence is broken, and the Armenian issue is treated in various forms. Reminiscences or the Armenian past, meant for Armenian readers only, are being translated to reach the Turkish reader. In the words of Fatma Gocek, “It took them 75 years to present to the Turkish-Muslim national audience, the Armenian massacres that formed an indelible component of the memory of their parents and grandparents.” This is a new, a daring venture to write in Turkish or to translate the Armenian original into Turkish the stories they have told about the Armenian past. However, this new venture in Turkish-Armenian literature is still taking its first shaky and cautious steps. Newspaper articles in Marmara, and Jamanak are trying to shed some light on the present affairs of the Armenian community without much reference to the past. The contribution of Agos, a weekly paper in Turkish and Armenian, is tremendous. This paper, which still continues to be published after the assassination of Hrant Dink, its longtime editor, reached the Armenians in Turkey especially those who came to Istanbul from the interior of the country and did not have Armenian education—Istanbul being the only place where the existence of Armenian schools was tolerated. But more importantly, Agos aimed to spread accurate information about Armenians and the Armenian affairs in the wider Turkish society.17 In any event, the prevailing norm is still to stay within the accepted limits. The memoir writers do not directly refer to the massacres and deportations, let alone calling it a genocide. “The exile” is the preferred terminology. Typical is a note by the publishers of Arpiar Der-Markaryan’s writings in 2006, explaining what the author meant by anapati tsnund, writes,
Reference is to Armenian children born in the Syrian deserts in 1916-18, whose parents were a part of hundreds of thousands of Armenians who were deported in accordance to a special law of the Ottoman government (Tehjir Kanunu). They [the parents of these children] were those few lucky ones who did not die of diseases or hunger, or were not massacred on the route to exile [aksor]; they reached the desert and survived in the harshest conditions.18
The Armenian word used for deportation is exile, which is a common practice in Armenian literature and oral testimonies, but which, by no means, is strong enough to denote the hardship of the deportation routes. Moreover, the process is canonized with reference to the law that the government promulgated. It is not a genocidal attempt by the government, just the implementation of the law. In fact, the term Tehjir Kanunu is used in the Turkish official historiography to justify the events of 1915, and sounds more like relocation or transport. The publisher perhaps unknowingly repeats the cover-up.
Migirdic Margosyan had the courage to write about his hometown in the 1980s. And more daring than that is his translating it into Turkish. His recent important and courageous venture in telling the story of the Armenian past to the Turkish public is a pacesetter. Gavur Mahallesi (The Infidels’ Quarter, 2006), the new Turkish version of his Armenian short stories, depicts the every day life and struggle of Armenians of the post-World War II Diyarbakir (a Turkish city in the vicinity of Tikranakert) segregated in their quarter, the quarter of the infidels. The modus operandi was to always stay low key and not to irritate the Muslims, who despised the non-Muslim and looked at them as the enemies of their homeland.
The pattern Mintzuri tries to describe is repeated here with more intense colors. The paradigm has remained unchanged from a pre-Genocide setting to even a very recent past. Here in the Diyarbakir of the 1980s, even the dead are deprived of a cross on their grave, lest it set them apart from others and underline their Christianity. Significantly, Armenians referred to themselves as Tigranakerttsis and not Diarbekirtsis. The proof of their ancient roots was in front of their eyes. The ruins of Saint Giragos Armenian Church of Xancepek, the Armenian quarter in Gavour Mahalle, stand today as, in the words of Ayse Gunaysu, “the evidence of a tragic interruption in Diyarbekir’s social history,” or “witness to a reality denied.”19
The inhabitants of the Gavur Mahallesi knew well that they are the continuation of the “rejects of the sword,” a humiliating, demeaning term that the Turks invented to call those Armenians who somehow managed to stay alive. “Rejects of the sword” is a term used to this day, a loaded phrase that carries the history of a nation, the state of mind and psychological disposition of the survivors of a great catastrophe. But they also learned how to cherish their ancestral land, symbolized in their village, without bringing about the suspicion of the authorities. Young Migirdic learned to sing the praise of Hretan, his father’s native village, and lament the scattering of its sons and daughters. He learned to yearn for Hretan he had never seen, and where now only Kurds lived.20 This attachment has its parallel in the Diasporan Armenians’ feelings about their birthplaces in Western Armenia. Even the second or third generation Armenians born in the Diaspora identify with the birthplace of their forefathers. They are Vanetsies, Tigranakerttsies, Mshetsies, and Kharberttsies even though they have not seen these places, and curiously, sometimes the Armenian dialects of these places is the only Armenian language they have inherited and speak.
Margosyan paints an idyllic landscape of his hometown and the simple country life in GavurMahallesi, but he never touches upon the reasons why the Armenians migrated to Istanbul or abroad and why the traces of Armenian presence, the meager remnants of the large Armenian communities in the interior of Turkey were being eliminated. Their abandoning homes and belongings has become a vexing memory and life, an old story that grandmothers tell their little ones: “Once there was and there was not a kingdom…”21 “Yes,” adds Migirdic Margosyan.
Once there was a kingdom. . . the kingdom of Aghajan Dayi (Uncle Aghajan) and his tenants… In the Khenchebek (Xancepek) quarter of Tikranakert’s Gavur Mahalle, the kingdom of house number 4 on Direshibashe Street.
From the kings, queens, brides, bridegrooms of that kingdom no one lives now in that house… Now others, other people live in our yards and in our rooms. Our pomegranate and black mulberry trees have dried. …
[All these people] are all now tombs of soil only in the Shishli [Istanbul] Armenian cemetery ….
We the remnants living are yearning for our house, our pomegranate and mulberry trees and the shadow they used to cast.22
With such ambiguous references, one needs to read between the lines of literature scattered in Istanbul Armenian papers and more recent publications in separate volumes to be able to envisage the persistence or disruption of historical memory and the degree of the intensity of that memory impressing upon the Turkish-Armenian identity. To be an Armenian in Turkey is to be aware of the prejudices, the discrimination, the fearfulness, caution, and timidity that overshadow an Armenian’s everyday life in Turkey. And yet, to be an Armenian in Turkey, as the anonymous author writes, “to proudly sing the Independence march every morning and shout ‘Happy to be a Turk’ in a Turkey where you don’t have a say…” Nevertheless, “When you are told to ‘leave if you don’t like it,’ it is to say, ‘And yet, this is my country as well.’”23
In a similar vein Hrant Dink writes:
“If we were forced to leave one day however… we were going to set out just as in 1915… Like our ancestors… Without knowing where we are going… Walking the roads they walked through… feeling the ordeal, experiencing the pain…With such a reproach we were going to leave our homeland. And we would go where our feet took us, but not our hearts.”24
Hrant Dink was as outspoken as an Armenian or any citizen of Turkey could be. In fact, he never refrained from using the word genocide when talking about the Armenian case. In the documentary film “Screamers” he explains:
“There are Turks who don’t admit that their ancestors committed genocide. If you look at it though, they seem to be nice people… So why don’t they admit it? Because they think that genocide is a bad thing which they would never want to commit and because they can’t believe their ancestors would do such a thing either.”
It is only recently that we have become at least somewhat aware of the lifelong trauma engulfing Armenian survivors in Turkey. We are being allowed into their world to see how the past shaped their identity and that of the generations born to them. And strangely enough, it is the Turkish literature that is leading the way. Socio-political circumstances forced the Turkish Armenian literature into failure to reveal the reality, and, true to the characteristics of artistic expressions, to establish the synthesis of the relationship or the dialogue of the individual with the collective past. Turkish literature, on the other hand, has moved away from absolute ignorance of Armenians and the Armenian past in the beginning of the Republican era; past the expressions of hatred and animosity against Armenians; to finally reach the genuine attempts to unlock the forbidden past and communicating with the pains and sufferings of Armenians as well as other ethnic and religious minorities who were long presumed to have been totally absorbed within the country’s Muslim-Turkish “monolithic society.”
Talking about the Armenian Genocide in Turkey is more than a taboo; it is simply dangerous. Continuous vandalism and violence against Armenian institutions and properties and threats against the lives of Armenian leaders and activists are constant reminders of the shaky ground on which Armenians live. With the political changes underway, the big question arises: will there come a time when Armenians in Turkey would no longer remain prisoners of the past and enchained to their victimhood and would be able to put that past, as Tzvetan Todorov suggests, in the service of the present and to avow, “la mémoire—et l’oubli—doivent se mettre au service de la justice.”25
1. Sibil. Hayganoush Mark, Toros Azatian, Gourgen Trents, Eghishe Ayvazian are examples.
2. A law passed in 1949 allowed the government to change the names of all non-Turkish villages to Turkish names. Aredagh is the Turkish name for Khuldig.
3. Ibid, p. 19, from a piece titled “Enkerners” (My Friends).
4. Arpiar Der Markaryan, Artsagank yev Antsorde, p. 42, from the story, “Mankutians orer” (The days of my Childhood).
5. Ibid, p. 151, from a piece titled “Nazarete” (Nazareth).
6. Sarkis varpet was one of Kemal Yalcin ’d interviewees.
7. This is a popular song about migrants calling the crane to bring news from their far away loved ones. The firs stanza goes like this:
Kanché, krounk, kanché, kani garoun é,
Gharibneru sirte gound-gound aroun é…
Akh im sirts aroun é.
A rough translation would be, “Sing O crane, sing insofar as it’s Spring/ Blood is the hearts of migrants? Ah, blood is my heart.” Blood here signifies sorrow.
8. Arpiar Der-Markaryan, p. 232.
9. My reference is to the Armenian translation of this book: Hogis kezmov ke khayta, Archbishop Karekin Bekjian, Primate of Armenians in Germany, tr. (Yerevan: Zangak 97 Press, 2003).
10. The poem is quoted in R. Haddejian, Hushatetr – 15, Grakan havakuit Suatiyei mer partezin mej (Diary #15, Literary Gatherings in our Garden in Suadiye), (Istanbul: Dizgi ve baski, “Murat” Ofset, 1999), p. 188. Haddejian cites this poem as the author’s important and impressive first step by which he became known to the Istanbul literary circles. Hilda Kalfayan cites a slightly different version. See Hilda Kalfayan, Panosian, Bolsahay nor banasteghtsutiune (The Istanbul-Armenian Modern Poetry), (Antelias, Lebanon: A publication of Georg Melidinian Literary Award-31, 1998) p.165.
11. Born in 1924 in Istanbul, Zahrad is the product of the post-W.W.II Turkish-Armenian cultural and especially literary revival. His poetry encapsulates that period’s invigorated cultural and religious activities, the booming of Armenian schools, churches, printed press, art exhibitions, and cultural events in an atmosphere of a socio-economic and political relative respite which ended with the revolution and military coup of May 27, 1960, assassination of Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, the demise of his relatively democratic government, the liquidation of the parliament, and the arrest and incarceration of political leaders.
12. Zareh Khrakhuni too was born in Istanbul. Aside from his volumes of poems, he is known as the critic, analyst, and staunch supporter of Istanbul-Armenian modern poetry.
13. Varteres Karageozian was born in the Armenian Zara village in Sebastia (Sivaz) in 1938. He belonged to the Armenian remnants dissipated in the interior of Turkey who were discovered and brought to Istanbul during the 1950s campaign to save the Armenian survivors and provide them with an Armenian education. This was an initiative of the patriarchate of Istanbul during the democratic rule of Adnan Menderes and his relatively more lenient policy against minorities.
14. Mashoyan, Yev aysbes abretsank (And this is how we lived), p. 96
15. Haygazun Galustian was born in 1920 in Istanbul. He repatriated to Armenia in 1965 and died there in 1985.
16. For this poem in the original Armenian language, see Yev aysbes abretsank, p. 95.
17. The birth of Agos, or rather the emergence of the need for a bilingual paper is a phenomenon. Reports have it that Abp. Mesrop II Mutafyan called on a few Turkish-Armenian intellectuals active in the Turkish press and formed a press council to respond to the inquiries of Turkish media, or to send accurate information about Armenians to Turkish media where news about Armenians was usually distorted and falsified. This endeavor generated the need to publish a Turkish paper, gradually Agos was born.
18. See the “Publisher’s note” in Arpiar Der-Markaryan, p. 294.
19. “Thoughts from Xancepek and Beyond,” Ayse Gunaysu, in The Armenian Weekly, April 26, 2008. p. 47
20. Tigrisi Aperen, p. 21
21. This is how Armenian fairy tales begin. It is equivalent to the English “Once upon a time, in a kingdom . . .”
22. Migirdic Margosyan, Mer ayd koghmere (In those places of ours), 5th edition, (Istanbul: Aras Publication, 2005), p. 138. The stories about the Armenian quarter in Tikranakert /Diyarbakir (the interchangeable use of the two terms, although they are not the same, is by Margosyan ) collected in this volume were first published in Marmara, an Armenian periodical, established in 1940 in Istanbul, then were first published in a volume in 1984. The subsequent editions appeared in 1994, 1995, 2000. The majority of the stories were rewritten in Turkish by the author and published in 1992, titled Gavur Mahallesi. The book was published in Kurdish in 1999.
Migirdic Margosyan has published stories of the same genre in Turkish: Soele Margos Nerelisen (Tell us Margos, where are you from, 1995), Bilitimis Istanbula Kesildi (Our ticket was to Istanbul, 1998), Chengelliighne (Safety pin, 1999).
23. For the English translation of this article, see the Armenian Weekly, June 16, 2007.
24. The article in Turkish was translated into English and titled “The Pigeon-like Unease of My Inner Spirit” by Fatma Muge Goçek and posted in the Internet on January 20, 2007 (the day after Hrant Dink’s assassination),
25. “Memory—and forgetting—should be put in the service of justice.” See Les abus de la mémoire, p. 61.
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