The lost card in the tram of Istanbul.
Armenian (HAY) - it is a national identity, but not religious.
the Armenian Belonging to any belief (an ariystvo, paganism, Christianity, Moslem and t. d, the atheist) remains the Armenian.
So was, So is, And will be.
The lost card in the tram of Istanbul
Who are you? It is Turkey. Whether you know what is Turkey? - the man whose thick lenses of points, increased fear in his eyes asked me. It belonged to little-known, armyano - the Gipsy community in Kurtulush, the district of Istanbul. I was in teahouse where the Armenian Roma of the man usually gathered, trying to interview them. And it was right. I did not know, than Turkey is. But Turkey, and many Armenians, did not know who too they are.
In Turkey, there lives the mysterious minority known as hidden Armenians . They hid during almost whole century. Externally they are Turks or Kurds, but the hidden Armenians actually are descendants endured Genocide of 1915 which remained in East Anatoly (the Western Armenia), after the violent address to Islam. Now, some of them devout Muslims, others as a rule the Alevis (who are considered by branch from Shiite Islam though it would be the inexact description), and some secretly remain Christians, especially in the field of Sasun where still there are mountain villages, with the secret Armenian population. Though the Armenian Roma, strictly speaking are also not classified as the hidden Armenians, they have with them many common features, including unwillingness or fear to reveal the personality, even for compatriots.
Mehmet and Fatikh Arkan, Armenians are Muslims from Diarbekir. Ten years ago, he still was afraid to recognize that they are Armenians, but now it is safe in Diarbekire, Mehmet speaks.
Nobody knows, the hidden Armenians are estimated in thousands or millions. Mostly, they are afraid to reveal themselves. Turkey still dangerous place for Armenians - one hidden Armenian from Palu told me.
The hidden Armenians do not mix up with others, opened Armenians, the active, but decreasing community of Istanbul. The majority does not talk to strangers. Violation of a taboo in Turkey can be deadly. Eventually, they remember what happened to Grant Dink. Dink, armyano - the Turkish journalist, was shot in Istanbul in 2007, the young man enraged by questions which were raised by Dink, beginning from Genocide of Armenians to the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk.
It is not easy to define it who is the confidential Armenian. Some refuse to call themselves Armenians even if they recognize that their parents, grandfathers or grandmothers were Armenians, but sometimes, is frequent against their will, they are still considered as Armenians from the Turks or Kurds who are not believing in their transformation. Some who know that they are Armenians do not hide it and speak about it to the neighbors, and others hide it even from own children some of which learn about it from other children who grin over them for their Armenian origin.
Raphael Altintsi, the last Armenian in Amasiya, was brought up by the convinced Christian, and one year studied in the Istanbul Armenian gymnasium Ü sk ü dar Surp Ha ç where at the same time Grant Dink studied. However for practical purposes, he is a Muslim, and he is married to the Turkish woman with whom it has a daughter who was brought up as the Turkish woman. Nevertheless, he considers himself as the Armenian.
In the mountains of Mus, Zhazo Uzal, the last Armenian in the Armenian village of Nish, at four o`clock painful driving from Bitlis. The g - Uzal`s N remains the convinced Christian, wintering in Istanbul, but having returned to the village, he observes Muslim holidays, including Ramadan.
In turn, Mehmet Arkan, the lawyer from Diarbekir, did not know that his family was Armenian until he fought with the Kurdish boy when he was 7 years old, and having come back home in tears, told that it was called Armenian . Soon he learned from the father that they really Armenians though to tell someone outdoors, it was strict - strictly it is forbidden.
Ten years ago we would not recognize it, but now, in Diarbekire, it is safe - he told in interview, about the local government which tries to adhere to the Armenian last Diarbekir (Tigranakert), having restored the St. church recently. Kirakosa and having created Armenian courses for beginners. The g - N Arkan does not feel like less Armenian, observing customs of Muslims - Sunnites.
On my trip, in search of the hidden Armenians, by the end of last summer, I was influenced by a decisive event which threw new light on characters who play every day the drama of Turkey, reminding that all of us are the actors in a trap of a plot of history playing roles which the majority of us did not choose yet.
I went to the airport of Istanbul where I was waited by flight to New - York. I entered the subway, and came to Laleli`s stations. After ten minutes of walking, I understood that I left not at that station. Then, having tried not to panic, I still understood that I left the four-foot tube wrapped in old newspapers where valuable and potentially unsafe material contained in the tram: Tundzheli`s card, the rebellious province, with the torn-off name TURKEY . In a cylindrical tube, there were also compromising records in Turkish, from interview with the activist of a zaz (a zaz - a branch of the Kurdish population which makes the majority in Tundzheli). But about what I really felt sorry for that, was wrapped in the card: four precious photos with the autograph armyano - the Turkish photo - the reporter Ara Gyulera.
I hesitated, whether I should trying to find a tube. I knew that someone will deploy the card, and its contents can bring me troubles with police. I also realized what insignificant were chances to return to the place of loss, in the mass of transport system 13 of the million city.
The hidden Armenians are pilgrims on a grief Maruta, Sasun. The girl was frightened when I approached her, having seen the embroidered Armenian cross on her bag which she turned other, empty party. We are Muslims - mother when it was asked whether Armenians they Tundzheli`s Card the activist of a zaz who tore off from it the inscription « gave
to me told it; Turkey on the lower part of the card, the fragment « was still visible; I from TURKEY looking as strips of the torn flag. Tundzheli`s name was angrily deleted by fat, black ink, and over her, the activist wrote the old name of the province Dersim. Dersim not Turkey - the activist reported.
Turks mention Dersim and 1938 on one breath, just as people in other countries speak about the Olympic Games. 1938 was year of the slaughter made by the Turkish military forces sent to suppress revolt. Though the prime minister - the minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized for murders recently, having called them the biggest tragedy in the history of our country name Dersim still contains a blasting resonance. Any Turkish police officer, having looked at the damaged card, will not find it difficult to find the reason to carp. And it easily would descend for insult of the Turkish nation as it is defined in Article 301 of the Criminal Code of Turkey, punishable for up to three years of prison.
But it were trifles, in comparison with the fact that open records. During the interview conducted in the building before the Turkish military base in Dersim, this activist of a zaz told me as it is specified in records: You, Armenian. This earth waits for you. Come and demand the earth back. Take the gun and go to the mountains to battle. If your wife does not join you, we will give you one of our women, and she will battle side by side against you.
The Armenian in the house, in Dersim, poses with the image of Twelve Imams. She learned that she is Armenian in 15 years. For strangers, it the Alevi of a zaz, but her friends and neighbors in Dersim know that she is Armenian and the Christian. She says that she is not afraid to be known as the Armenian in Dersim, but I am afraid for the life if learn about it at » university; where she receives the bachelor`s degree in the field of economy
Dersim probably has the highest concentration of the hidden Armenians, a subject with which Grant Dink claiming that Armenians in Turkey there are about 2 million was obsessed. And thus, Dersim and the hidden Armenians, partly, were causes of the murder of Dink.
In the article Sabiha Hatun`s Secret published in its newspaper by Agos, Dink declared that Sabiha Gokcen, the first woman - the fighting pilot in Turkey and around the world, and the foster daughter of Ataturk, was the Armenian orphan after Genocide of 1915, by the name of Hatun Sebildzhyan.
Thus, she was a hidden Armenian. Gokcen is considered the Hero of Turkey, in no small measure thanks to its role in suppression of revolt of 1938 in Dersim, firing at positions of rebels with close distance. Dink was killed in furious events which followed his article about Gokcen, allegedly Armenian origin and tragic irony of the orphan of the Armenian Genocide, with identity of the Turkish woman who took part in massacre of Kurds only two decades later after Genocide.
Having returned on tram station in Istanbul, I went to the station-master to declare loss of the card. The polite, cheerful young man spoke with strong East - Anatoliysky accent, it to turned in x .
Having listened to my story, the station-master invited me to tea. Someone came to it on a meeting. The friend of the station-master wanted to learn from where I. Argentina - I answered, but he did not buy it and continued to try to find out about we wash an origin. Why I spoke Turkish? Why I look almost like Turk? I insisted that I from Argentina. Yes, of course, and I am Japanese - he told with a vinegary smile. - You loved Turkey, isn`t it? - he asked and left, without waiting for my answer. I observed how it leaves and remembered that several months ago, Argentina received unflattering lighting in the Turkish press, after official recognition of Genocide of Armenians. Many Turks know about considerable Armenian diaspora of Argentina.
Several minutes later the young man a wearing spectacles, black t-shirt and trousers, showed a police counter and passed through a turnstile. He reminded me, the agent who is also dressed in plain clothes who caused me troubles in Dersim after I left the building where the activist of a zaz gave me the card. This person did not approach me.
The copy on Armenian the text of Sura from the Koran, Kirkor Oggasyan`s handwriting from the village of Argat, near Palu after he addressed in Islam after Genocide. This copy is stored at his grandsons, one of whom learns Armenian and started the website West - the Armenian history under a pseudonym. They are distant relatives of the archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Armenian Prelatstva New prelate - York
Then phone, in the station-master`s office rang out. They found the » card; - he told quietly, looking at me through the dark glasses. It will be in fifteen minutes » here;. I began to prepare for a trip to police.
Really, the tram approached minutes through fifteen. The driver quickly came to light and stretched a tube with the card to the chief of the station. The station-master approached me, shook hands with me and wished happy journey home Where it was - he told. It returned not an open tube with the card, still wrapped up to the old newspaper H ü rriyet curtailed along outer side, with the photo the prime minister - the minister Erdogan with angry expression and the waving finger on god knows that.
Avetis Hadzhyan is a writer from New - York. It was published in Los Angeles Times, CNN, Bloomberg News and others of the newspaper and the news websites. This article represents a fragment from its book Nation Secret: Hidden Armenians of Turkey which has to be published by fall of 2013
© Avetis Hadzhyan, IANYAN Magazine, on December 4 2012
© the Translation of Armenian Business Community