Tuesday, 4 May 2010

April 24 Commemoration Reports from Turkey (including Welsh contribution)‏

The Armenian Weekly

Mouradian: The Sound of Footsteps on April 24 in Istanbul

by Khatchig Mouradian

If you were one of the few hundred people in Istanbul that publicly commemorated

the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2010, you probably heard the sound of footsteps.

Activists holding photos of murdered Armenian intellectuals during the Genocide commemoration at the Haydarpasha Station in Istanbul. (Photo by Mujgan Arpat)

I am not referring to the footsteps of the defiant Turks, Kurds, and Armenians who gathered

at open-air commemoration events. Nor am I referring to the footsteps of counter-demonstrators

holding placards that read, “The Armenian Genocide is an imperialist lie,” and yelling,

“Death to the Armenian Diaspora.”

Daniel Varoujan—the prominent Armenian poet who was arrested on April 24, 1915 and eventually

killed, just like hundreds of his fellow Armenian intellectuals—says in one of his poems that he can

“hear the footsteps of a rose-flooded dawn” of victory. From a distance of 95 years, you probably

were hearing, dear friend, the sound of the very same footsteps.

I know I was.

And the sounds of footsteps were gradually becoming louder.

I was hearing those footsteps as I watched Kurdish women hold pictures of their “disappeared” sons

and pictures of Armenian intellectuals murdered in 1915. I was hearing those footsteps as I was at the

commemoration at the Haydarpasha Station. I was hearing those footsteps as I was delivering a genocide

commemoration lecture in Beyoglu.

And I was hearing those footsteps during the vigil on Taksim Square.

An activist holding Varoujan's picture at one of the commemoration events in Istanbul on April 24. (Photo by Khatchig Mouradian)

The footsteps of Varoujan’s rose-flooded dawn of victory.

The victory of memory over amnesia, affirmation over denial, and action over indifference.

On April 24, 2010, I was in Istanbul for you, Varoujan. For all that your work, your life, and your murder

means to me. And I, too, heard the footsteps.

The Turkish version of this article appeared in this week’s issue of Agos.

Speech to the Ankara 24th-25th April Conference
by Eilian Williams ,
Solidarity with the Victims of All Genocides
and on behalf of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs
An Alternative Way for Anatolia-
the Restoration of "Turkish" Armenia
I come here today as one who is conscious of the Celtic blood that, through the Galatians,
runs in the veins of many Anatolians. Indeed it is the cultural diversity of Anatolia that has
always been its glory. I bring with me the perspective of the small nations of Europe who are
conscious that genocidal instincts was a common feature of all colonial powers, whether British,
Russian or Ottoman. The recent Genocide Recognition resolutions of the Basque and
Catalonian parliaments, as well as the Recognition accorded in Wales and by the majority of
UK Parliament members from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland cannot be ignored by
Turkey: these nations have no political interests in antagonizing Turkey but do have long ethical
democratic traditions
The issue of Reparations for the Genocide has a sound base in Natural Justice, and the
whole issue of future Armenian-Turkish relations cannot be divorced from Reparations. Let us
not forget though the culpability of the former Great Powers, especially Britain, in legitimizing the
award to Turkey of her present borders following the successful genocide of her Armenian
and Syriac/Assyrian population . Turkey's entry into the European Union will undoubtedly mean
that the European Union assumes a great part of Turkey's liability for reparations. This offers the
prospect of diverting part of the potential benefits of EU Membership into the "Great Idea" of a
Restoration of Western Armenia that is to revert back to the position when people of many
ethnicities, languages and cultures could live alongside each other before the Turkification of the
area destroyed this rich-in-diversity area inhabited by Armenians, Assyrians/Syriacs, Greeks,
Kurds and Turks.
The denial of the 1915 Genocide by Turkey is contradicted by another of its contentions, that
there is no Turkish Armenia Turkey cannot deny the Genocide and at the same time claim that
Western Armenia no longer exists. I propose that this is another possible path for Turkey, by
which it may avoid a substantial transfer of land . We are talking not only about the Restoration of
the Armenian and Syriac Cultural heritage of Western Armenia but also Restoration of a People
to their proper identity. Some of the two million Armenians and Syriacs lost from Anatolia in 1915
can be recovered today if Turkey creates the right conditions for "Crypto"-Armenians, and "Crypto"
Assyrians to return to their true identities. It is still dangerous for this to happen in many parts of
Turkey. To start with they must be allowed to state their identities as they wish in a future census
eg Muslim Armenian, or Turkified Armenian or Kurdified Armenian or Assyrian. The Armenian
language must be offered officially in large areas of Van, Bitlis, Erzerum, Sivas etc. Further a
number of Armenian and Syriac Churches must be quickly restored and used. We witness no
quick developments in the restoration of Tasharon Church in Malatya. The restoration and
reopening of this Church in memory of Hrant Dink would give encouragement for many to return
to their true identities. Similarly the Syriac language must be taught and given official recognition
and support.
In parallel with this, people whose ancestors were forcibly converted but who know their origins
must be allowed to revert back to their normal everyday life and traditions.This includes Turkified
or Kurdified Armenians and Assyrians,and this may lead to a stronger, more vibrant region.
It is recognized that this process of Return and Restoration will be a painful process for many,
Churches should be allowed to open their doors to those who wish to restore their original faith,
and this process must be seen by the state and religious authorities as acceptable. It will only occur
slowly at first If they are helped and given encouragement, then perhaps their children will one day
return. Muslim authorities could recognize publicly that the forced conversions of 1915 was a crime,
and that the descendants should be encouraged to assume their rightful identity without fear of
I will never forget the kindness shown to me by Muslim Armenians and coming to Turkey for
the first time has changed my life. Since Hrant's death, I have shaken the hands of sympathetic
ethnic Turks for the first time and I believe that (in Hrant's words),my "poisoned blood" towards
Turks is being cleansed.
For the rest,, "pure" Turks and others who are half-, quarter- or one-eighth Armenian, what are they
to do? Was the cry "Ermeni Hepimiz " only for Hrant's funeral? Or should we take it literally? We
can all search for partial Armenian identity, whether by learning the language or by embracing the
beauty of Christianity, the religion of forgiveness.
There is a beautiful saying in Armenian, " Tsavotsanem " ("I take your pain") . One cannot say it
without being close to the soul of the recipient. By taking one of the above steps perhaps Armenians
will allow us all one day to say "Tsavotsanem"

(to grasp the extent and vibrancy of Armenian and other people's lives before the Armenian Genocide,

go along to the Armenian Institute/SOAS exhibition at the Brunei Gallery.

It's a must))

Armenian contribution to Ottoman Empire/Turkey


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