Armenian genocide in Turkey : “Agreeing on the technical G-word is not the more vital issue”, par Laura Knobloch

A l’occasion du centenaire du génocide arménien, une de nos lectrices nous propose l’interview riche en symboles d’un étudiant d’origine arménienne à Istanbul.

Gathering on Taksim Square. The picture raised show the face of Hrant Dink, Turko-Armenian journalist murdered in 2007 by a Turkish nationalist. Crédits photos : CrossWorlds/Laura Knobloch

Gathering on Taksim Square. The picture raised show the face of Hrant Dink, Turko-Armenian journalist murdered in 2007 by a Turkish nationalist. Crédits photos : CrossWorlds/Laura Knobloch

Who are you?

My name is Muratcan Kazancı. I am a 27 year old architecture student at Istanbul Technical University. I was born of a Turkish mother and an Armenian father.

Do you have a strong Armenian identity?

No, I don’t. Mainly because of the fact that I wasn’t raised as a part of any significant ethnic or religious community. I grew up in a pretty secular environment and wasn’t actually surrounded with an overwhelming number of either Muslim/Turkish or Armenian/Christian relatives.

Did your attitude change after the commemoration?

Not at all.  For me, attending this commemoration or the ones before, is nothing new. My attitude and opinion about the topic were formed way before I found out that I was partially of Armenian parentage. However, although my general opinion about the topic hasn’t swerved much over time, the murder of the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007 was the incident that made everything related to Armenians in general considerably more personal for me. The reason is quite simple; before his murder, and the small intellectual turmoil it caused, my concern and opinion related to the genocide was based mainly on “humane sensitivity”. The discussions and attitudes of people (also some from my own social circle) made me aware of the fact that, to some people, I was indeed an Armenian regardless of the fact that I didn’t feel even remotely like one and it had nothing to do with who I was but with what was written on my I.D. card’s religion section.

How important is it for you to call it a massacre or a genocide?

It may be important on a hypothetical basis, but given the fact that we, all of the people in Turkey, and the Armenian Diaspora have a huge journey ahead of us in terms of normalizing the relationships, acknowledging and appreciating each other and each other’s pain and troubles and maybe learning to help each other and ourselves get rid of this enormous burden. The reason I am saying this is because for the time being, focusing solely on the accurate term of the horrible tragedies which happened a century ago seems to be distracting both parties away from the fact that 1/5 of the people of a country died or were exiled and a whole culture vanished in a couple of years. It is quite ironic that neither side of the debate is actually denying the fact that hundreds of thousands of people died and were scattered all over the world and neither side has recovered ever since.

What do you mean ?

Turkey grew up to be the destabilized, paranoid and non-democratic country it is today, a country with a severe state culture and heritage of suppressing its own citizens for various reasons whether they are Kurds, Armenians, Muslims, Alevists, Christians, atheists, Greeks, Jews or any other member of a minority from which the actual uniqueness of Anatolia is stemming. As for the Armenian diaspora, as far as I could observe, in which I also discovered some of my own relatives as well, this state of mind or this constant struggle with the Turkish Republic prevents them from having a shot at redemption or peace because, as Hrant Dink also once said, it fills them with a hatred that, although rightful, distracts and poisons them from the inside.

So for me, it is without a doubt a genocide. It is pretty obvious to anyone who bothers to question the already inconsistent and contradictory teachings of the “official” Turkish history and dig a little, but for the time being the technical term is far less important to agree on since there are much more vital and fundamental issues that need agreeing on for both sides.  And if that single word is going to keep stealing the spotlight, I don’t feel an urgent need to discuss it.

How did you experience this year’s commemoration?

Although I don’t have that much hope and optimism left in my heart about the “normalization and democratization” of the life and the people in Turkey; I cannot deny that it is heart lifting to witness that every year more and more people become aware of the situation or their level of caring increases enough for them to choose to attend such an event. The increased ethnic diversity and the number of people who start to care about this particular topic might be one of the very few things that has the capacity to shed some light, even though very vague, on an otherwise quite gloomy-looking future for this country and everyone, not just ethnic minorities, who are living in it.


Propos recueillis par Laura Knobloch.

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