Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  Armenia's Armenians Living in Turkey  
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The featured Aug. 6, 2006 article is from Turkey's "Hurriyet" newspaper, written by Sefa Kaplan and Alin Ozinian; photos by Fatih Yalcin. Here is the Turkish version.

Translated by Sukru Server Aya (with minor modifications in TAT), for the web site of "Turkish Armenians."

Regarding this article, Erdal Firinci (of British European Turks) has written in a Yahoo group that it is worthwhile remembering, "the problem is with Dashnaks, Hunchaks and alike and never with ordinary Turks or Armenians living in Turkey or abroad. There are countless examples of peaceful co-existence of ordinary folks but this can not be said for the extremists amongst us, so our struggle is with extremists. Turkish Armenians are citizens of Anatolia just like any other Anatolian and carrying a Turkish passport or not is not the issue but what we keep in our hearts is.. May his Eminence, Mesrob II continue with his good work in bringing the two Anatolian communities even closer."


At Kumkapi Every Wednesday, A Small Armenia is Set

If on a Wednesday your stroll takes you to Kumkapi, you will see that several Armenian citizens set up their benches and are trying to trade. The posters in the windows will catch your attention. Most of some 40,000 Armenian citizens who came with a tourist visa live in this part of the city. There is no argument of genocide or other political subjects among them.

They are only trying to earn money and send little of that to their families. Even if they arrive in hesitation and fear, sometime later they understand that Turks are not waiting for them with saws in hand to "cut" them. When speaking, they did not hide their names. Nonetheless, we are not disclosing names in this article.

At Istanbul's Kumkapi market

At Istanbul's Kumkapi market

The district open market set at Kumkapi, since a long time has been adorned with merchandise benches opened by immigrants from Armenia. Most of them are from Yerevan, the capital. Generally they are aged over 50 years. They are trying to sell the few goods they brought from Armenia, cheap beads, suchuk, conjac, smoked fish, caviar… Their purpose is to send some money to their children, grandchildren. Turks and Kurds are the old customers, but the important buyers are again Armenians from Armernia.

Those doing well in their business, opened small shops near to the market place. There are signs in Armenian and Turkish on their doors. We stroll the market place with Alin Ozinian, who is making her doctorate degree study in Yerevan and knows Eastern Armenian dialect well. At the beginning they get disturbed by the camera of Fatih, but later they invite us to their shops and their market stands, welcoming us.

We really don’t know if their number reached 40.000 as the Foreign Minister Gul said, but is apparent that they live in hard conditions in Istanbul.

 The bad comes not from the nation, but from the person

First we are guests to a typical house of Kumkapi, where the market is set. A. L. is a construction engineer born in Gumru in 1946. After the break-up of the Soviet Union he quit his profession and came to Turkey. He said, “The year was 1997, I was living in the house of relatives; in the corner there was a stove. Our nation does not know what a stove is; we are used to central heating. I lit the last cigarette and threw the pack at the stove. When I asked of those around where the other pack was, I received the answer that there was none. I felt strange and decided immediately; I should have done something to save myself out of this situation. I went to the bus station, 30 dollars was enough to come to Turkey; I paid it and came here”.

A. L. lived on the streets for 17 days. Afterwards, he met an acquaintance in a coffee house. With his help, A. L. first started to work in the factory of a Turkish Armenian, and later did any job he could find. When he found the opportunity, he brought along his wife as well. While Alin was doing the interpretation, all of a sudden he starts to talk in broken Turkish. He says that his grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Anatolia and adds ‘we already spoke Turkish at home”. He shows the photos of their grandchildren on the wall and says “We are here for them.”

His wife O. L. was setting a feast table in their poverty stricken house addressing us as “canim” (my life). She says that she took house cleaning jobs, shows the old chairs in the sitting rooms and says: “The Turkish woman I worked for gave these to me. They give us gifts on their and our sacred holidays and ask if we are short of anything. Sometimes, the Turks here treat us better than the local Armenians. I am greatly thankful, they don’t make me feel like a stranger. Anyhow, there are no bad nations, only bad persons.”

 My daughter was sick, I came but she died

We had seen A. N. born in Yerevan, 1956, strolling the market. She was selling on her little bench, rice, suchuk, smoked fish and some type of cream called “titvaser”. Her little shop in the back drew our attention.

First she was reluctant to talk, then she explained.: “I came to Istanbul in 2000, I sold my house to gain capital. I had to come because my daughter was very sick. I worked hard, did any job I could find. I swept floors in restaurants, I washed dishes. Later I opened a shop. Not all of the merchandise belongs to me. I sell whatever they bring for sale.”

And was she having any problems with Turks? She said “I did not live any problems. They don’t treat us badly. But of course my heart is in working in my home country. If I can save some money, I will go back and buy a house. Since my daughter is dead, nothing is important now, but life goes on”.

When leaving the tiny store, she tries to place in Alin's hand a box of Armenian candy. Alin does not take it for she knows that what she calls “capital” is a little candy and some smoked fish.

Retired teacher from Yerevan, A.S.
They told us to say that we are NOT Armenian

I am 62 years old, I taught 33 years, we came to Turkey in 1992. My wife and I were in the trading business. I was one of the three traders doing great business on glassware in Armenia. Actually, the answer to the question “Why Turkey” is very simple. This is the nearest and cheapest country for those who want to work. It is easy to get a visa at the border, just pay 10 dollars.

When we were coming to Turkey, they had told us to introduce ourselves as Georgians. For around two years we took that advice. Later we saw that Turks had no grudge against Armenians, everyone minds his business. When trading, I had no problem at all with other persons in business. Those who come from Armenia, work in the houses of local Armenians from Istanbul. Some treat the workers as guests; on the other hand there are some that don’t like Armenians from Armenia and would not give them a job in their house. This is because many who come to Istanbul are peasants. The Turkish Armenians would look at the Armenians from Armenia and say, “they are rude, covetous, don’t know how to dress”.

The local Armenians look down upon those coming from Armenia and mistreat them. I am sorry for that because it does not reflect our country totally. From time to time, I have been faced with such cases that I am ashamed to say that I am from Armenia. It's not nice to say, but there are some among them whom I would not take into my house. Let me say this openly: I never had any problems with local Armenians or Turks. I especially have never had a bad treatment, insult or annoyance from Turks. I earlier hesitated to say that I was Armenian, but now I am at ease.

How can 32 persons fit and live in this house?

In a street near to the Kumkapi pubs, we enter a house which looks to have three floors. Inside it is only a shelter. Rooms are separated with curtains, and the poverty is full fledged. Spaghetti is cooking on a picnic butane cooker. Despite this, the walls are adorned with pictures of Christ and Mary.

The Armenian ladies from the top floor

The woman on the first floor did not want to talk because her son did not permit her. The second floor was empty. On the top floor we see about three to five women, trying to fit on a small mattress .Among them, V. T. agrees to speak.

Her real profession is bookkeeping. Born in Leninakan in 1955, lives in Turkey since 2003. Reason of coming: “There was no job, and need of money, Turkey was the nearest country and I came here." First she baby sat the child of an Armenian family. Now she works daily as a house cleaner. “I took care of the baby as if the baby were my own and every time I took the child in my lap I begged God to have my children taken care of in the same manner.” When she first arrived, she was treated roughly by both Turks and Armenians. V. T. said : “they like to look down upon us; they don’t think that once I was too a lady of my house, I had a job, but now I have none; some day the same can happen to them. But I still don’t want any one to live what I have been through.”

V. T. gave courage for N. F. to speak as well. Born in Leninakan in 1948, came to Turkey in 2000. She also works in houses as a maid. With all sincerity she says: “Turks are very good people, I never saw any harm from them”. Referring to a house where no one would walk in under normal conditions, she says there were exactly 32 Armenian nationals living.

While getting out of the poverty district and walking toward the Armenian Patriarchate we think of other immigrants spread throughout the world, to have better way of life and to fill their stomachs. We think of immigrants drowned in the Maritsa River while dreaming of Europe; those dropped on no man's islands in the Aegean or those women and children from North Africa drowned while trying to reach Spain.

What was the poet Behcet Nercatigil saying?

“When values are dead I will have died as well”

 Patriarch of Turkish-Armenians, Mesrob II

Among them, there are some that marry Turks

How your relations with those coming from Armenia? Are thery coming to you when they have problems?

Mesrob II

His Eminence, Mesrob II.

- Until the last two-three years, they were coming mostly for financial aid. We were investigating and if they were, for example, really stuck and had no money to go back, we were helping them with travel money. But later we found out that they were getting out of the bus in Samsun and Trabzon and were coming back to Istanbul. We decided to no longer provide financial help. But the church is the meeting place for them. On Sundays, the Kumkapi Church is filled with Armenians from Armenia.

Is the Patriarchate a factor for their chosing Kumkapi ?

- No, this is one of the cheapest districts of Istanbul.

What is their basic problem ?

- First, having a visa. Aside from that, their children have a schooling problem. Those who live here and have good jobs are unable to send their children to school. This is the greatest problem for those who arrived as a family.

How is the educational profile ?

- Almost all of them are institute graduates but cannot find a job. There are even doctors among them. They take care of sick ones in homes as though maids, and they earn more money than in Armenia.

How are their relations with Turks ?

- Their relations are very good. Anyway, the key of every problem is education and economy. If the exchange of students can be achieved, many things will change and human relations will resolve everything. You may scold persons you don’t know or ever met, but you won’t do the same with someone you know.

Are there those complaining about bad treatment or other complaints?

- As far as I can see, every one gets along very fine. There are some that even marry Turks.

Does the local Armenian community feel discomfort with those coming from Armenia?

- More than discomfort there is lack of confidence. The Armenian community does not trust these people, they say “You cannot trust their word, they make promises they don’t fulfill.”





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...Is to expose the mythological “Armenian genocide,” from the years 1915-16. A wartime tragedy involving the losses of so many has been turned into a politicized story of “exclusive victimhood,” and because of the prevailing prejudice against Turks, along with Turkish indifference, those in the world, particularly in the West, have been quick to accept these terribly defamatory claims involving the worst crime against humanity. Few stop to investigate below the surface that those regarded as the innocent victims, the Armenians, while seeking to establish an independent state, have been the ones to commit systematic ethnic cleansing against those who did not fit into their racial/religious ideal: Muslims, Jews, and even fellow Armenians who had converted to Islam. Criminals as Dro, Antranik, Keri, Armen Garo and Soghoman Tehlirian (the assassin of Talat Pasha, one of the three Young Turk leaders, along with Enver and Jemal) contributed toward the deaths (via massacres, atrocities, and forced deportation) of countless innocents, numbering over half a million. What determines genocide is not the number of casualties or the cruelty of the persecutions, but the intent to destroy a group, the members of which  are guilty of nothing beyond being members of that group. The Armenians suffered their fate of resettlement not for their ethnicity, having co-existed and prospered in the Ottoman Empire for centuries, but because they rebelled against their dying Ottoman nation during WWI (World War I); a rebellion that even their leaders of the period, such as Boghos Nubar and Hovhannes Katchaznouni, have admitted. Yet the hypocritical world rarely bothers to look beneath the surface, not only because of anti-Turkish prejudice, but because of Armenian wealth and intimidation tactics. As a result, these libelous lies, sometimes belonging in the category of “genocide studies,” have become part of the school curricula of many regions. Armenian scholars such as Vahakn Dadrian, Peter Balakian, Richard Hovannisian, Dennis Papazian and Levon Marashlian have been known to dishonestly present only one side of their story, as long as their genocide becomes affirmed. They have enlisted the help of "genocide scholars," such as Roger Smith, Robert Melson, Samantha Power, and Israel Charny… and particularly  those of Turkish extraction, such as Taner Akcam and Fatma Muge Gocek, who justify their alliance with those who actively work to harm the interests of their native country, with the claim that such efforts will help make Turkey more" democratic." On the other side of this coin are genuine scholars who consider all the relevant data, as true scholars have a duty to do, such as Justin McCarthy, Bernard Lewis, Heath Lowry, Erich Feigl and Guenter Lewy. The unscrupulous genocide industry, not having the facts on its side, makes a practice of attacking the messenger instead of the message, vilifying these professors as “deniers” and "agents of the Turkish government." The truth means so little to the pro-genocide believers, some even resort to the forgeries of the Naim-Andonian telegrams or sources  based on false evidence, as Franz Werfel’s The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Naturally, there is no end to the hearsay "evidence" of the prejudiced pro-Christian people from the period, including missionaries and Near East Relief representatives, Arnold Toynbee, Lord Bryce, Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and so many others. When the rare Westerner opted to look at the issues objectively, such as Admirals Mark Bristol and Colby Chester, they were quick to be branded as “Turcophiles” by the propagandists. The sad thing is, even those who don’t consider themselves as bigots are quick to accept the deceptive claims of Armenian propaganda, because deep down people feel the Turks are natural killers and during times when Turks were victims, they do not rate as equal and deserving human beings. This is the main reason why the myth of this genocide has become the common wisdom.