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Where Do We Go from Here? Notes from a ‘Tourist’ in Diyarbakir

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The Turkish version of the following article appeared in the July 20, 2012 issue of Ozgur Haber, a daily newspaper published in Diyarbakir/Dikranagerd.

 

I sit in my room, in Diyarbakir’s old Deliller Kervansaray. I draw the curtains shut, and lay down on my belly. I am content in my temporary seclusion, hidden from the bustling city’s distractions. I feel the warmth pour in from the cracks around the window, and from beneath the dark wooden door. I know at some point while exiting or entering this room I will bang my head against the low-hanging stone that frames the top of the doorway, like I did in the morning, and several times the day before. How many others have hit their heads against that stone, I wonder. I smile with sympathy, and I feel a momentary closeness to the ghosts of those who slept here before me over the centuries. The inescapable past creeps up like a shadow to consume my thoughts.

The overturned graves, the piles of soil, dead grass, and thorns, the broken pieces of the gravestones, and those bones—it felt as if someone had punched me in the gut. (Photo by Nanore Barsoumian)

I touched human bones just the other day in the Armenian cemetery in Diyarbakir—soil-stained fragments of your neighbors. The overturned graves, the piles of soil, dead grass, and thorns, the broken pieces of the gravestones, and those bones—it felt as if someone had punched me in the gut. Will the dead ever find peace on these lands, I wondered.

As workers smoothed out the dark gray stones at the Surp Giragos Armenian Church, I contemplated what we had lost. As I walked through the welders’ street, I heard my co-traveler’s voice. “Don’t look at the men with the torches,” he said. “The light will hurt your eyes.” The welders, shielded by heavy masks, torched away, sending bright sparks—like fireworks—my way. I looked away. “My great-grandfather was a welder,” he said. One of these shops belonged to him at one time, before those dark days came, before they bled to death outside these city walls. Do they tell you about those days, when you lost your neighbors, and your neighbors, we, lost everything: homes, fields, schools, churches, the water, the air, and life itself?

I wish these city walls could speak. No, I wish you would speak. Tell me, what happened here? Tell me what you’ve heard. Tell me you understand that what we have lost cannot be bought by gold—that gold they dig for under every Armenian rock, house, and grave on these lands.

I walked through the winding dirt roads of Havav (Ekinözü) to a fountain located at a spot where the road dips and opens into a large dirt field. Music was playing and men were dancing. An Armenian man was crying. He had traveled thousands of miles to his grandfather’s village. They restored two fountains here—from the time of the Armenians, they say. It was a symbolic gesture, but the symbolism fell on that man’s heart like the massive stones at the crumbling Armenian monastery just a few hundred feet away.

I walked through the winding dirt roads of Havav (Ekinözü) to a fountain located at a spot where the road dips and opens into a large dirt field. Music was playing and men were dancing. An Armenian man was crying. (Photo by Nanore Barsoumian)

Who am I exactly? Why am I here? Why is there a fine string—like the one a spider weaves—extending from my hip to this land where I am seen as a foreigner, a tourist or, at best, a guest? The questions flashed through my being each time I saw the ruins of a church, and the stones that bore the squiggly letters of my alphabet in monasteries or on the sides of village homes. The questions persisted, as though someone etched them on the backs of my eyelids, and I felt like a fish deprived of water. I come here armed with a camera, a pen, and a notepad—to trap the proof of our past that is perpetually under siege.

Thank you for helping restore Surp Giragos—really! It’s a beautiful flower in our forest of dying plants. But I do have to ask you, what’s next? What is a church without its congregation? “You’re constantly faced with choices,” said a good friend of mine, as I sat fractured on this city’s wall. So, let me ask you again, where do we go from here?

—Diyarbakir, May 29, 2012

43 Comments on Where Do We Go from Here? Notes from a ‘Tourist’ in Diyarbakir

  1. I have the same fine filament connecting my hip to homeland… You write with proper melancholy. What could be sadder than searching for home when you are standing in it?

    You ask, “Where do we go from here?” I wonder, can we ever find home in these lands again. If so, how? What will it take?

    Nice article, Nanore.

  2. avatar Knarik Meneshian // June 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm // Reply

    Very moving piece!

    Yes, “where do we go from here?”

  3. avatar Sylva-MD- Poetry // June 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm // Reply

    Nanore historical peace of writing
    (Nather) what we call in Arabic…
    Like Gibran Khalil Gibran…
    I don’t know what we call in Armenian …
    We are lost in many languages…
    My both grandparents from Diyarbakir…
    Are your grandparents from that land as well…?
    We have still lands there with tapoos (dicuments)
    Who can claim back he will be killed…!!!

  4. avatar john the turk // June 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm // Reply

    Nanore

    Armenian should settle their accounts with themself rather than Turks and stop slandering Turks. I am sure Kurds and Turks aren’t monsters as often claimed here . then you can come and settle down anywhere you like in Turkey. We have enough space for a few millions of Armenians. Can you do it? I do not think so

    • avatar Vatandash // June 29, 2012 at 7:30 pm //

      No John, we cannot do it. I cannot bring in my children and settle them in a place where I do not feel it is secure for them. This insecurity has noting to do with the kind people of today living in Turkey, but it comes from deep feelings of what happened in the past and the thoughts of what can happen again if the past mistakes are not recognized.

      What really concerns me is the fact that today there is no recognition in Turkey of what happened then. Or even worse, there are still people in Turkey who want to justify of what happened .

      Unless their is a recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey , and here I do not really care if it is recognized all over the world, there is no way for people in Turkey , whatever their origins may be, to understand the terrible mistake made by their ancestors against one of nationalities of the Ottoman Empire.

      People need to be explained that the Ottoman Empire was a multinational country and we Armenians, for more than 500 years participated in Building this Empire, like the other nationalities, such as Turkmens, Cherkezians, Lazli, Kurds, Assirians, Jews and other components of the Empire. We had the right to live side by side with everyone else, practice our religion, sing our songs and enjoy the fruits of this wonderful land….

      People should ask, why are Armenians spread all over the world ? In what conditions they left Anatolia ? Why are they screaming for the recognition of a Genocide if it did not happen ? What have we done with them ?

      Recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the mistakes made in the past is the only way to heal the old wounds and start building a new future . Until then your invitation for the millions of Armenians living abroad to return home will not be answered.

      Your’s truly

      Vatandash

  5. Nanore, you have an eloquent pen and express yourself through your heart.
    What wıll happen tomorrow we do not know but the restoratıon of the church ıs a symbol that we were there. There was a great effort and cooperatıon on the part of many to see all you saw.

  6. Each year in my Grandmother’s hometown the Turks stage a play in which they kill actors playing Armenians. They have renamed Marash to Kahramanamaras, which I am told means Heroic Maras, for the “heroism” of killing defenseless Armenians, although I am sure they will admit this only to each other. I suspect the often joke about dead Armenians.

    Many friends go to these places, the pictures of which I devour, especially the pictures which show what my grandparents actually might have seen. But I cannot bring myself to visit even Bolis because I know that a majority of the men and women I would pass on the street, including the beautiful young western-looking women and vaguely familiar looking young men, want me, us and everything Armenian dead and forgotten.

    Their hospitality is for tourist dollars in general and rumored Armenian gold, in their east, our west.

    I know things are better, I know that many there are not this way, and a few like Ayse Gunaysu are the real world heroes of our time, but I still would no more walk among those who hate us than among live wires and rattlesnakes.

  7. Genis, what happened to your Turkish Hospitality ? We lived 500 years together in the same Empire. Turkey is a country built on the remnants of the Ottoman Empire . It is not your country alone and it belongs to all the nationalities that make up the population today , like Kurds , cherkezians, Lazi and even some Armenians who are the off-sprigs of the Armenian orphans who were assimilated in your families as a result of the Genocide in 1915 and other massacres before that.

    • Vatandaş Kardeş,

      I am really fed up with being the only side who is friendly, hospitable, forgiving..etc

      Just look the ermenian websites you will see the endless hatred towards Us ..

      NO, i will not be humanist to ermenians… anymore.. i was ,before i met people in their media of which AW was the first..

      if you know a little about us Turks you also know we share half of a piece of bread we have. But again, WHY is it always us ?

    • John the Turk,

      You ask what is wrong with it? There is something that is wrong. You have been raising brainwashed and racists generation. That is what is wrong with it. As a consequence, Turks became one of the very few nations who committed genocide. You think it just happened out of nowhere?

      Yes, most of the Turks are not monsters but you only need a few monsters and good number of brainwashed, nationalist and racist people in a nation to commit genocide against another nation or group of people. Something that happened to Armenians, Assyrians and Pontiac Greeks.

      I keep hearing from Turks that Armenians were sided with Russians that is why they were considered a threat to them and have been exterminated or deported as they like to put (even though women, elderly and children cannot be considered as a threat, and deportation is not supposed to have massive rapes, slaughtering and kidnapping, but let’s assume that was a “Turkish style”-deportation). Did you have any reason to slaughter half million Assyrians and Pontiac Greeks? I wonder what your answer will be? Perhaps the best person would be RVDV to answer this question.

      It is worthwhile comparing the German education system with Turkish with regard to measures taken to prevent future genocides.

      A German child is taken to Nueremberg, to museums where they show how Nazis built an industry out of human materials. For instance, how they made soap from human oil, or how hairs have been used etc. How bad it was to commit a genocide and start world wars. If you talk to Germans they will open up a conversation about genocide first if they know you are Armenian. They have no complexes and insecurities when is come to their past.

      Once, I told a friend of mine that it was such a pity that a lot of German historical monuments got destroyed from bombing in WWII. Without thinking for a second she bravely announced that there was no reason to start WWII and bring so much sufferings to so many people. It was a great lesson for German nation to learn she added.

      Now, compare what happens in Turkey and you will realize that you have a very different picture there.

    • Vatandas why not ask the same question to Dashnak and Hincak leaders, why not find out what Fedayeen did, why not look up French Legion or handing over of Van to Russians? First look at a mirror yourself before asking others to do that.

    • avatar Boyajian // July 8, 2012 at 7:58 pm //

      Genis, let’s say Turkey is a piece of bread. Will you share it with those whose bread was stolen?

  8. Sireli Nanore,
    God bless your mission.
    It’s a very touchy subject.
    The reality of life is not how we are going to start
    HOW WE ARE GOING TO END UP THIS RACE

  9. Sireli Nanore,
    God bless your mission.
    It’s a very touchy subject.
    The reality of the life is not how we are going to start,
    how we are going to end up this race.

  10. İ ll tell you a story

    afew years back i went to usa for the summer, in jersey the hotel i was staying at had also afew armenians at my age they were green card holders
    iwasnt the only turk in hotel thre was around 12 13 turk in hotel as well to my surprise ofc,

    they knew we are turk and we knew they are armenians, thre was an situations one can not explain easily it was like hesitating to speak someone that doesnt feel like foreigner yet uncertainty of possibilities of reactions kept both side to themselves noone talked eachother

    afew days past and i saw 5 of em drinking and talking in porch, with curiosity i approach to em and said hi, for a sec they all stopped talking and turned to me only 2 of em said hi back

    one of those guys was working nearby pizza store and was studiiyin in calıfornıa in time we became real good friends i knew thre will be time he would ask about armenian genocide not long after of which happened i told him my opinionand he told me his whıle we didint agree on whole pic he said he was surprised and that he i wasnt a bad turk :)

    to hear that i thought probbaly thats the reason those armenians didint say hi back to me and people mostly have opinions without knowing the otthers at all many turks dont know armenians they are taught that armenians are not good and friends of turks and iam sure armenians are told turks are killers etc etc

    i hope one day turkey will have strong person as leader to call on all armenians spread worldwide to come back home althou i am sure many wont come back as they built their lives in societies they live in,still it would be nice invite our neigbours back to home, we need to compansate for the loss of lives and property not only armenians and others who were treated unjust

    lost lives cannot be brought back but reparations can pave a way to end hostility

    iam 25 and iam sure if we start now right about my life time ends we can achive above mentioned things and end the century long hatred it takes alot time to build friendship but second to destroy, lets not do same mistake again

    regards

    • {“iam sure armenians are told turks are killers etc etc”}

      nobody has to tell us, Anton: we can read and we can see.

      - Just a couple of months ago tens of thousands of your Turk countrymen marched at Taksim in a Turkish Government endorsed and sponsored Anti-Armenian march with placards that read (paraphrased): “All Armenians are bastards”; “Today Taksim, tomorrow Yerevan”; “We will bury you on Mt Ararat”.

      - the Turkish police official that posed proudly with the murderer of Hrant Dink was recently promoted (yep, not fired: promoted). The real conspirators of the murder have not even been caught (…because they are protected by the State).

      - An Armenian descent soldier serving in TSK, Sevag Şahin Balıkçı, was murdered, because he was Armenian. On April 24, 2011.

      There is an endless list of examples of rampant Anti Armenian and Anti Christian hatred and intolerance in Turkey today. And it is getting worse every year.

      You seem to be an idealistic, but misinformed young man. Your sentiments are appreciated. But Armenians are not stupid: after 1915, and after what you guys tried to repeat in Artsakh until 1994, the Turks, as a nation, cannot ever be trusted again. There are wonderful, righteous ethnic Turks (e.g. Ayse Gunaysu): but a tiny minority. We Armenians cannot trust our existence to the goodwill of a tiny minority.

      And there was no “…lets not do same mistake again”: 2 million Armenians were systematically exterminated (1895-1923) in a State planned, organized, directed, and executed campaign. It was not a mistake. It was done for a very specific purpose: to steal Western (Wilsonian) Armenia and all other liquid and illiquid assets from indigenous Armenians.

    • Indoctrination of Turks with Anti Armenianism and Anti Christianism starts early in Turkey:

      {“Such question is simply a crime. My daughter answered positively on the question about ‘traitor-Armenians’, which means, the xenophobia has been embedded in her as well,” stressed Kaya.} (Note: Kudos to the righteous Turkish father)

      http://news.am/eng/news/110530.html

      and the source:

      http://www.taraf.com.tr/haber/hain-soruya-suc-duyurusu.htm

    • avatar Boyajian // July 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm //

      I appreciate Anton’s desire to share his story of his encounter with Armenians while vacationing in America. It is good for Turks and Armenians to experience each other as real human beings and not as the stereotypes we have come to expect.

      But I wonder what Anton can or will do to create a new Turkey that is brave enough to face its past?

      i

  11. Avery,

    You are a bad liar…!

  12. avatar john the turk // June 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm // Reply

    Avery
    You are a confused man. Anyone who supports Wilsonian Armenia is considered a traitor by an ordinary turk including this young man so it is not a rocket science to understand why all turks say all armenians are traitors.can we find an armenian who doesn’t support wilsonian armenia? if we we can not find him or her then the ministry of education must be correct by asking such a question. What is wrong with it?

    • It seems the great Turkish nation has achieved its purpose with you. I was reading a book Profiles in Audacity last night and I came across a great quote. The book, a compilation of many great decisions in history, was talking about Daniel Ellsberg- the man who released the Pentagon papers. Here is the quote:

      “Just outside was the timeless, peaceful truth of the ocean, the rhythmic rush of waves, the call of gulls, and in his hands was a story about lies, about people telling lies, and, even worse, about people outraged by lies but willing to perpetuate those very same lies. Ellsberg thought: ‘I’m not going to be part of this lying machine, this cover-up, anymore.’”

      My favorite line: “about people outraged by lies but willing to perpetuate those very same lies”… reminded me about those individuals out there who say they have sympathy and sorrow for those who were killed in 1915, but at the same time insist that bygones be bygones and refuse to accept that it was a genocide.

      And: “I’m not going to be part of this lying machine, this cover-up, anymore.”

      The lying machine: The Turkish government is not enough. There needs to be lobby groups, brainwashed academics, and the blind millions who must follow to set up a lying machine, to make it systematic. “Truth is valuable and shall overcome”- The motto of my university. Let it sink in.

    • avatar Vatandash // July 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm //

      John, I would like to ask you a few questions and would like to know what your judgment will be in each of these cases.

      At one point the Ottoman Empire covered the territory of what is now Bulgaria. The Bulgarians with the help of the Russians organized an uprisings and separated from the Ottoman Empire and became an independent state. Can you say if the Bulgarians are traitors ?

      When Yugoslavia broke up, certain groups in Kosovo with the help of some western countries organized an uprising and asked for independence. As a result the Serbs massacred and deported the whole of the Kosovar population. Comparing this case with the case of the Armenians would you say that the Kosovar were traitors and they deserved to be massacred and deported ?

      The Turkish ethnic population of North Cyprus , with the help of the Turkish Army broke up and created their own state. Are they traitor ?

      The PKK today is organizing attacks against the Turkish Army and they clearly have an agenda of separating from Turkey . Can you say that the whole population of Kurdish origin in Turkey are traitors and will you support your government if they decide that it is in the best interest of the Turkish state to deport all Kurds from Turkey ?

      In 1915 the Turkish parliament with pressure from the Young Turks decided to deport the whole Armenian population of Anatolia including women, children and the elderly. When they organized this shameful act they used the slogan ‘’Armenian traitors’’. Based on the answers to the questions above, and honestly, do you consider that the act of some Armenian organizations in 1915, when they aspired for independence , was treason ? and if the whole Armenian population of Anatolia were traitors ?

      And now coming to the question of this ‘’Wilsonian Armenia’’ everyone knows that there was such a plan of creating an Armenia on that territory, the same like Bulgaria , Kosova and North Cyprus and the counter-plan in this case was to leave NO ARMENIANS so there could be no one to claim those lands.

      The real traitors are the ones who organized the crime against the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire and once the truth is revealed to all the Turks , their names will be cursed forever and their statues will be smashed by Turks themselves . Only then will the spirits of one and a half massacred Armenians rest and only then we will be able to become friendly neighbors again.

    • By that very same argument how can we then blame Ottoman governent of the time from doing whatever was in their power to prevent the creation of a Greater Armenia on ancient Turkish lands on which a majority of the population was Muslim and or Turkish. I totally agree with you. All those nations who did whatever was in their power and totally irrespective of the moality and injustice of the situation were doing what was right for them. Who can judge them? Unless of course if they are non-Christians it seems. Ottomans never thought of Armenians as “them” really. Many of their leaders proved beyond doubt thay they were them and we were us. There are two choices here now, to move forward or stay rooted in the previous millenium.

    • {“…on ancient Turkish lands on which a majority of the population was Muslim and or Turkish”}

      ‘ancient’ Turkish lands ? that’s a good one.
      Your actual ancient Turkish lands are where Turkic Uygurs now reside, near China.
      What you imagine are ancient Turkish lands are actually ancient Armenian lands where the majority of the population was Armenian for about 4000 years and Christian for about 2000, before Turkic tribes started invading and wiping them out 1000 years ago. With near total extermination achieved around 1915. If 1000 years is ancient, 5000 years is 5X more ancient.

      Don’t come here and talk about ‘ancient’ this or that: you Denialist Turks don’t know the meaning of the word.

      When Armenians were building magnificent cities like Ani, your nomadic tribal ancestors were still riding their horses between their yurts on the Mongolian steppes.

  13. The biggest traitors in history were the Ottoman and CUP Turks: traitors against Humanity for being the originators of the State organized Genocide: for murdering 2 million unarmed Christian Armenian civilians – women, children, and babies. For murdering another 1-2 million Christian Greeks and Christian Assyrians.

    It is no treason to fight foreign invaders who have invaded your own country and are systematically massacring your people.

    Where is the document that shows Armenians and other Christians pledged allegiance to those who occupy their land ?
    Where is the national referendum whereby Armenians in Ottoman Turkey pledged allegiance to the Sultan ?
    When did Armenians and other Christians agree to be second class subjects – as in Subjects – of Ottoman Turkey: in return for what ?

    Resistance to the Nazi invaders was and is considered honorable and heroic.
    Collaborators were spat on.
    Nazis also considered resistance to their criminal gang treason: Nazi criminals either committed suicide to escape the hangman’s noose, were killed, or were hung.
    In Germany today it is a crime to even display Nazi paraphernalia.

    In Turkey today neo-Fascists and neo-Naziis are still proudly running loose and are in fact part of the State apparatus.

  14. {Mine Ozcelik Bagrationi , 10 May 2012 , 00:13
    necati, you definitely Not a Turk, because a Turk does Not purposely demean his own people and represent us all Turks as vicious, uneducated, murderous masses…I am Not, I know you won’t hesitate to behead Christians, especially Armenians. You are the “lowest” low of our people, and we have started to throw thrash like you who belittles the great Turkish people out the window. We are cleaning our country of backward looking, genocidal elements like yourself. That is WHY you are forever condemned to curse our nation and our proud Turkish people. Sad case of ignorant hooligan. PS: I still have to find an Armenian whose name is Mine, and as for my last name Ozcelik, it is pure unadulterated 100% Turkish name. Dear Armenians, I have to apologize Again for this necati, whose Only aim in it’s life is to pile Shame after Shame on our proud people. We are Not as this necati wants you to believe. We are a gentle and loving people, he is a vile and most probably a self hater, ashamed of his Turkish ancestry.}

    {necati , 09 May 2012 , 02:51
    mine , you are not a Turk. dont pretend.}

    Note: Ms. Mine Ozcelik Bagrationi is an ethnic Turk married to
    an Armenian man. She posts frequently @TodaysZaman.

    • Avery,

      About Mineyan Hanım, i could write a reply but i will not since it will be censored by AW.

  15. Look, there’s no need for insults here. JDA, you should – absolutely – visit Turkey, visit your family’s village, drink of the water, smell the perfume in the air, taste the essence of being there. You will not regret it, in fact, just the oppositie…it will become a defining moment for you. None of us can resurrect the past in any other part of the world, no matter how hard we try. But, once you step foot on the true ergir, you will experience something you cannot find anywhere else. It is truly unique, on many levels. So, just do it. And, you will be welcomed there by those who took our place. They know what happened, and they often apologize for it. Remember, that’s where your roots are. Find them.

    • Karekin,

      One of my great grandmother came from Kars, but I never had any desire to visit Kars and see how Armenian traces have been erased, and Turkish citizens have occupied the city and their house.

  16. avatar Sylva-MD-Poetry // June 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm // Reply

    Who writes Ermeni and not Armenian

    There is no word Ermeni In English Dictionary
    There is Armenia, Ararat, Armenian…
    Even you don’t respect our name …
    You like to do mistakes for ever and don’t like to correct…
    Because you belong to a special race…
    How can we deal with you…!
    When you write ermeni…red line appears under to say it is a mistake…!
    So correct… is it so difficult task…?

    • Sylva,

      Necati Genis, has the urge to force his Turkish language on us that is the reason he cannot bring himself to write Armenian instead of Ermenia. Or maybe in his mind when he calls us Ermenian people he thinks that it is insulting to us.
      He does not understand that we have no problem with our past or with our national identity that is why we do not have an article 301 in Armenia unlike them.

  17. Karekin,

    I appreciate the advice, but missed the part about any insult . The murderous hatred Turkish culture and its state has for us is there. I admire our friends who can get by it to see the land, but to me it is a post Hitler culture that names its sons Adolf. Talaat has a mauseleum and dozens of Boulevards.

    • He doesn’t have a mausoleum per say. He and Enver pasha’s remains were taken to a mausoleum built in memory of the 74 soldiers killed during the uprisings of the March 31st Incident. (Built in 1911).

    • avatar Boyajian // July 2, 2012 at 10:20 am //

      Seriously, RVDV, why be the apologist? Is this keeping of the remains of the organizers of the Armenian genocide in a mausoleum for those whose memory is honored, not insulting to Armenians and degrading to Turks? Why do you bother to explain it or clarify it? Why align yourself with this embarrassment?

  18. avatar Arlene Avakian // July 1, 2012 at 10:53 am // Reply

    When I saw the title to your article I was anxious to read it since I have been going to Turkey for the Hrant Dink conference since 2009, was in Diyarbakir and Havav in 2010, and then again this past May for the celebration of the restoration of the fountains. I was dismayed and, quite frankly, shocked that you characterized this monumental achievement by the sentences: “They restored two fountains here—from the time of the Armenians, they say. It was a symbolic gesture, but the symbolism fell on that man’s heart like the massive stones at the crumbling Armenian monastery just a few hundred feet away.” Who is the “they?” Why did you use the passive tense?
    Fethiye Cetin’s Armenian grandmother was from that village. While Cetin was the prime mover behind the restoration, she assembled a team of workers and volunteers from Turkey, Armenia, and the diaspora.
    The “they” you dismiss were real people working together to acknowledge the existence of Armenians in the village. People were responsible for the restoration of the fountains — Turks, Kurds, and Armenians. The celebration was attended by hundreds of people, Turks, Kurds, and Armenians and all acknowledged the fountains were Armenian. Men were dancing because it was a celebration, and some of them were Armenian. Women were also dancing, and some of them were Armenian. The music was sung in many languages including Armenian. The celebration included congratulations from the Mayor of Elazig and the governor of the district, both acknowledged the existence of Armenians in the village.

    Your article dismisses a very important achievement by this Armenian, Turkish, Kurdish, and international team as if it means nothing. The fountains will not bring back the dead, of course, but they point to a future of acknowledgment of the genocide and healing of the wounds. I am sorry you were not able to recognize that and speak to it.

    • Arlene,

      I did not perceive any slight to Ms. Cetin or to the others who restored the fountain. The focus of the article as I read it was instead to note the melancholy such places may produce, and to question the meaning of Armenian buildings and Churches devoid of Armenians. I did not think that the article slighted the accomplishment, but instead it asked simply “where do we go from here,?” which to me meant, what is in this for Armenians, what are we to make of it?

      I was acutely aware that Nanore was a double stranger in an Armenian place, first because she is from North America, and second because she is Armenian. Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians must have the same feeling when they see their lands turned into shopping centers.

      The positive meaning of such a place may be very significant to Ms. Cetin, other local Armenians, both open and hidden, and local people of good will. It may have a very different and darker meaning to those from the Diaspora who can only or primarily see what has been lost, and how we are missing from our own landscape.

      Our problem with Armenian buildings and places devoid of Armenians is most acute in western Armenia and Cilicia, of course. But it is a growing problem throughout the de-Christianized Near and Middle East. It can even be said to be a problem when our Churches and club houses throughout the world contain only the very elderly.

  19. To John the Turk; I guess you don’t know your history of your ancesters. The Seljuk Turks, the Mongol Turks, & the Ottoman Turks whom invaded Asia Minor, Europe, the Middle East, & Northern Africa to form the Ottoman Empire not only did they massacre millions & millions of all nationalities from 1064 on but also forcibly assimilated their inhabinits. Their is no such thing as a pure Turk whom came from Mongolia. Todays Turks, especially in Asia Minor where Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, & other Christians lived are so intermixed with forcible Christian blood that todays Turks do not have the slanted eye look of their ancient Mongol ancestry. I have traveled thruout Turkey and whatever village I traveled to, Turks & Kurds would all tell me that their grandmothers were Armenian. During the 1st World War the Turks drafted 200,000 Armenian men into the military & after training they disarmarmed then & put them on road gang building projects. When these projects were completed they took the Armenian men in small batches & had them dig their own trenches whereby they were shot & buried in those trenches. Talaat Pasha & his henchmen after the war were all found guilty, whereby they fled to other lands & were tracked down by Armenians & killed for the atrocities they committed against the defenseless Armenian People. I guess you have brainwashed like all Turks by your government. Armenians don’t hate todays Turkish people, but your Government has to make amends & make reparations & land returns along with recognition of the Armenian Genocide, otherwise their will be no peace with your government.

  20. Of course, wherever there is anger, there is always some pain underneath the surface. We know this. However, carrying a grudge, anger or resentment is not unlike carrying a 1000 lb weight around. It immobilizes you. A Korean saying goes like this….if you kick a stone (in anger), you will hurt your own foot. Some think you can and should get angry, even furious sometimes, but should never, ever succumb to resentment. Resentment is a very bitter diet, that is eventually poisonous. The Buddha said that holding onto anger is like holding a hot coal in your hand with the intent of throwing it at someone else….however, you are the one who will get burned.

    Ms. Avakian is right…projects like the fountains cannot and will not bring back the dead, but they can resurrect their memories and the memory of an entire people. They are like a stone dropped in a pond…where the ripples travel to every shore. We never know what the positive effects will be. Better to take a chance on something positive than to dwell on the negative.

  21. To John the Turk; Thank you John for offering Armenians to return to their homeland but this cannot happen until the Turkish Regime returns to Armenians their historic homeland which not only includes the legal Treaty of Sevres that Turkey & Armenia signed along with 16 other nations in August of 1920. Remember, that Kemal Attaturk as a revolutionary illegally took over the government after they recognized Independent Armenia. Attaturk & Lenin, another revolutionary whom took over Czarist Russia, they both united to take over Armenian lands. You Mr. John do not read up on your history to know what Seljuk, Mongol, & Ottoman Turks did to civilization by massacre after massacre from 1064 to the present day where your Turkish brothers have massacred over 50,000 Kurds in the last 15 years, not counting the harrasement of Armenians in Istanbul & the killing of Hrant Dink of the Agos Newspaper. Also, Turkey is known by International Amnesty as having the worst Humans Rights Violations in this world. Wake up my boy & don’t make up false propaganda. I have been to Historic Armenia three times & wherever village I went to Turks & Kurds would all say my Grandmother was Armenian whereby those that they didn’t massacre, they forced woman to become Moslems. My father came from Shabin KaraHissar & he lost his wife, 3 children, father & mother and many relatives. My mother lived in a village in the Provence of Erzerum where they hurded the whole village out on a death march. My mother was married with 2 children whereby they bayoneted one in front of her & other died from starvation after 13 days. She lost her husband, father & mother & all her relatives, She was the only survivor from her village. The only reason she survived was when she passed a missionary home they pulled her in. Please do not critersize Armenians for what your past Turkish Governments have to our people. Sit down with Armenians so you can learn the truth.

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