Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  An Armenian Grandmother Vouches for the Turks  
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Mahmut Ozan
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 Professor Mahmut Esat Ozan has been the rare, tireless voice in the United States, putting up his dukes in the sea of Turcophobes for many years. Here is a late 2005 commentary of his that appeared in The Turkish Forum; it is placed away from his normal commentary section, because the subject matter is that important: one of the very rare times the "Armenians" let down their guard and allowed the real truth to slip.

The article will be followed by the testimony of other Armenians that go against Diaspora views.



(An Editorial)

Mahmut Esat Ozan

Chairman -Editorial Board

The Turkish Forum- USA

(this article is humbly dedicated to an irreplaceable Turkish Lady called Fatma Sarikaya)


I do not believe that any Armenian person, man or woman, young or old, rich or poor would admit that the story below could have ever happened. These unfortunate people almost from infancy on have been fed a pabulum called the' Armenian genocide,' plus a goodly portion of pure hatred for the Turks. This has been their gospel truth inculcated in them not only in their homes and Churches but also at every phase of their lives from cradle to grave.

When I first heard recently about the story below, I promised myself to publicize it as many times as I could in the future. That is what I am doing here to let the rest of the world meet and admire this different kind of Armenian grandmother, born in the Ottoman Empire who kept her closeness to her birth place and her love for her second native tongue,Turkish.

Yegisabeth Kasebian is one courageous old woman among many who comes along and is brave enough to tell the truth as it really happened. After her narration which appeared in a Lebanese magazine, the Tashnaks started calling her ugly names. When this story first surfaced, the publication began hearing hundreds of complaints, 95 per cent coming from abroad.

This is a good indication that the Armenian Diaspora is alive and well and will not give an inch of their deceptive ground to historical facts. Ironically most of the mail received spoke about the fact that she was either a salaried agent of the Turkish government in Ankara or that she was senile. Many letter writers said that this grandmother's words did not jibe at all with the stories they had heard from their own grandmothers.

Yegisabeth had personally witnessed the relocation of Armenians from the war zone of Eastern Turkey. She had gone through the same marches as others had done .The only difference between her account and others' was something called the truth.


Armenians who immigrated to Lebanon during 1915's bitter incidents in Ottoman lands formed brand new lives for themselves. Leaving the past to the historians, Armenians in Beirut, unlike those in the Armenian Diaspora elsewhere, do not hold grudges against Turkey. Along with the Anatolian culture which they left 90 years ago, they hand down the Turkish language from generation to generation in Beirut.

An old woman living in the Bekaa Valley sings a Turkish folk song. Her name is Yeghisabeth Kesabian. She is 105 years old and the last witness of the expulsion. She was 15 years old when she came to Lebanon from Hatay via Syria in 1915.

During the journey, she says they went through great hardship: "We walked for days. Turkish cavalry were always next to us. They were protecting us against the attacks, but they sometimes were beating us when we were not able to walk fast enough to catch up with the others." She admits that it was a very hard forced walk and a difficult journey. After about three months of travel, Kesabian came to the Bekaa Valley's Anjar region along with her relatives, of whom she is the oldest. She lives with her daughter Sara and her grandchildren. Even her great-grandson, eight-year-old Mardiros knows Turkish. Kesabian taught him Turkish songs.

Her adventure is not limited to 1915. After coming to Lebanon, she went back to Samandag in Hatay (now a province of Turkey ) and got married. She cannot forget that day in Turkey. "I was so happy. Our neighbors, relatives, everyone was there. Rain after the wedding means prosperity. At my wedding, it was raining. Our neighbor prayed for rain. A short while later, it started to rain. My wedding dress got wet. Since I had no other clothes, my mother-in-law dried my dress and helped me to wear it

Married in Turkey, Kesabian puts her finger on a historical point that is missed about her return to Lebanon. In 1939, after Hatay's being included within Turkish borders, of her own will, she returned to the Bekaa Valley with a group of Armenians and continued her life in the valley. During this period, again Turks did nothing wrong against them and they  returned to Lebanon upon their own free will. "The French told us, 'come here', then we went there. When we wanted to leave, Turkish soldiers helped us to get into the cars and escorted us to Damascus. Then, the French took over. In those years, Turks did nothing wrong to Armenians."

Kesabian, one of the last witnesses of the expulsion misses Turkey a great deal. In particular, she wanted to see the village in which she spent her childhood and where she was married; however, she has not fulfilled her wish yet. Now, she has a single request of her grandchildren and her daughter: She wants them to take her to Hatay before she dies.


 They still live in Lebanon and dream of Turkey. They listen to Ibo (Ibrahim Tatlises a Turkish singer), and support the soccer team called Galatasaray.

The names in the Borj Hammoud district of Southern Beirut are the same as the ones in Turkey. Maras, Antep, Adana. The name of the biggest district is "Yeni Maras" It is the same as any district in Kahramanmaras in Turkey - narrow streets, noisy children, the smells of spices coming from the shops… jewelry brought from the Turkish cities, Adana, Mersin and  Kilis, charms saying "Mashallah", "Allah Korusun" on them, dried mulberry, grape pectin… people are familiar, streets are familiar, shops are familiar... the kids cry out at Ibrahim Tatlises and Galatasaray. Everybody is like they have seen the Turkish movie "Copculer Krali" They know the Turkish actor Kemal Sunal and call him "Copcu". Children support two teams here; one is from Turkey and one is from rest of the World. They support and watch the matches of Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas besides the matches of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Fifteen-year-old Artin Taursarkisyan is a fan of Galatasaray. He follows the matches on Turkish TV channels. The other team that Taursarkisyan supports is Real Madrid. But the football player in his dreams is not Zidane or Figo, he is Hakan Sukur. of Galatasaray. There is no animosity between these Armenians and their neighbors the Turks . (It suffices to say that they have no enmity between these people because they have not witnessed the fabricated Armenian genocide)

Not only do these Armenians watch the Turkish broadcasts of Mehmet Ali Erbil and other Turkish TV series; they even watch women's morning programs. People in Borj Mahmoud watch Turkish TV channels. But the Turkish TV channels' broadcast by cable were closed temporarily by the Tashnaks due to April 24.

Beiruti Armenians live like Turkish people and they show a different Diaspora characteristic than the widely known one. They allow the sale of food and textile products brought from Turkey, the beads with "Mashallah" and "Allah Korusun" scripts are bought by Armenians and hung on the walls of their houses. Armenian businessmen are always in touch with Turkey and they bring most of the goods they sell from Turkey. The grocer Mano Lenbelian, who sells food and jewelry, is one of them and he often goes to Turkey for this reason. He teaches Turkish to his children, a language which he learned from his grandfather. He speaks Turkish with an Adana accent and goes to Antep, Urfa, Kilis and Antep regularly. He is not interested in political issues like "Genocide" or "Emmigration" He says:

"There is no problem with Turkey for me. There should be peace and dialog now. Those mistakes should be left in the past, let the historians discuss these issues. Society is negatively affected by these kinds of struggles. I get along well with Turks. We have no problems. And the others also should not create problems for us . I sell the dried vegetables and fruits to Armenians here. They like these products very much. Also Armenians buy the beads with scripts "mashallah" and "Allah Korusun, If I can sell these Turkish products, it means that there is no problem between the two



Meraat Al Khaleej magazine's Editor-in-Chief Nataly Restokian, who will come to Antalya, Turkey, for a top-level business meeting to be organized this summer, says that this is not well seen by some radical Armenians. Tashnaks' attitude harms bilateral relations between the two countries according to her. "Armenians have two options:

1) Don't think about Turkey at all and wage war or 2... Have dialogue and solve the problem. The first option is impossible. We are living here like Turks. We watch Turkish television. I eat Ulker biscuits, listen to Ibrahim Tatlises. I wear clothes made in Turkey and so do the others. But for the second option, we have to work hard. Life goes on. I don't want to deal with the past. I want peace and fraternity, not fighting." When you get to know Restokian and talk with her, you see that her expressions are not political.

'Money cannot be a black cat between our friendship with the Turks.'

An Urfa Kebap House in Yeni Maras,in Beitut, is in a neighborhood mostly populated by Armenians... Besides having the most delicious kebaps and lahmacuns, the manager of the house is talkative and a gentleman and that makes interest in the restaurant grow. There are places and very polite helpers or managers who are serving various authentic foods from around the world. But this place has many things to tell Turkish people and the world, because its owner is the son of an Armenian family who immigrated to Lebanon in 1915. His name is Levon Restokian.

Speaking Turkish, Restokian is as good as a local in Urfa in Turkey. He makes the best lahmacun. The word "genocide" for Restokia does not have as much meaning as it does for Diaspora Armenians. According to him, the war incident was one of the mistakes made by Armenians during history and it is nonsense to build up an entire life over this "mistake".

Among his customers, there are many Turks as well as second and third generation Armenians who emigrated from Turkey. On Thursdays especially the biggest demand for lahmacun and doner kebap is from the Turkish Embassy personnel in Beirut. His relations with his Turkish customers are beyond those of merchant-customer. Even more so, some customers like me do not pay the bill at the store. "Money cannot be a black cat (rift) between our friendship," he says and he is still interested in Turkey a great deal. He tells his children about Turkey and teaches them Turkish.

If we leave aside the "Tashnaks" who are the most radical group of Armenians in Diaspora, Restokian represents the average Armenian living in Lebanon, namely people who speak Turkish, who prefer to leave the issues about Turkey and the "things which happened in the past to historians"...

The Diaspora in this country, Lebanon is in fact quite ancient and rooted. It is organized in a wide area from churches to political parties, from media to economic organizations. They live mainly in a densely populated area in Bori Hammoud, in Beirut and Anjar, Bekaa. Valley. They have 3 deputies in parliament.Now debates over genocide are on the agenda due to the anniversary of the events of 1915. But these issues do not take place in daily life. Even the new generations think very different. The daughter of lahmacun master Restokian who, is even loved by Turks, loves Turkey and Turks as much as her father. Nataly Restokian is the editor of the magazine, previously mentioned, addresses the rich businessman of the Arab world and the elite of the country. Nataly Restokian says, "It should no longer be a problem for us that our fathers and grandfathers disagreed with each other and killed each other."

I hope that the 105 year old grandmother Yegisabeth Kasebian attains her wish to see Hatay, her birthplace in Turkey, once more before she passes away, and that the level-headed majority of the Armenians of Lebanon get rid of the radical bull-headed Tashnak politicians in order to prepare peaceful and better tomorrows for everyone concerned.

I'd like to close with the words of the American Patriot Patrick Henry who once said: "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."





 See Also:

Armenians with Contrary Views




"West" Accounts


Armenian Views
Geno. Scholars


Turks in Movies
Turks in TV


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