Armenians jeopardized in Istanbul

Armenians jeopardized in Istanbul

Massacres of the Christian population of the Ottoman Empire and its successor Turkey are an integral part of the country's domestic policy.

Every now and then, Istanbul turns into a city that poses extreme danger to Armenians. This does not mean it had been safe otherwise; still, sometimes Armenians are facing really hard times. Massacres of 1955 which affected Armenians and Jews along with the Greeks were meticulously planned within Turkey's state policy.

PanARMENIAN.Net - Massacres of the Christian population of the Ottoman Empire and its successor Turkey are an integral part of the country's domestic policy. Currently 98% of Istanbul population identify themselves as ethnic Turks and name the Turkish language as their mother tongue. Meanwhile, the origin of Istanbul citizens is quite diverse, reflecting the complex migration processes in the Ottoman Empire. Despite absolute prevalence of Turkish, the very Turkic genetic element is not very significant among the inhabitants of Turkey (let alone Istanbul), accounting for not more than one third. This phenomenon can be explained by intense Islamization and “Turkization” of non-Turkic nations, the Christians and Jews in the first place who constituted most part of the city’s population until mid-15th century.

There are approximately 60 000 Armenians in Istanbul today who live in constant fear. Assassination of Hrant Dink 6 years ago seemed to cool down the Turkish nationalists; it did not happen, though. Actually, this couldn’t have happened anyway because neither the police nor the state stirred a finger to protect the lives of their own citizens, particularly when Armenians, number one enemy for the Turkish state are involved. However, Istanbul Armenians do not want to put up with it; they say they live in their homeland and are not Diaspora, which is not quite true, in fact. Their homeland, namely Western Armenia was lost long ago, and Armenians are tolerated in Istanbul through habit or out of political necessity.

It should be reminded that one of the oldest members of Istanbul’s Armenian community, 85-year-old Maritsa Kucuk was brutally killed on December 28, 2012. The old woman was beaten and stabbed, then beheaded. Kucuk’s son Zadik found her body. “It was dark inside when I entered the house, and mom was lying on the floor. I thought she had fallen down. Then I saw her body all in blood. She lay naked, and she had a cross sign on her chest,” Zadik told Agos paper. Another elderly Armenian woman was robbed and killed in early December 2012.

On January 6, three unknown people attempted to abduct another old Armenian woman but failed to do this.

On January 10, IT teacher of the Armenian “Aramian” school Ilker Shahin was found dead in his house in Istanbul. Shahin was stabbed in the throat three days prior to being found.

Two elderly Armenian women were assaulted in Istanbul on January 22 and 23. Sultan Aykar, 83 was attacked and beaten near her house. The masked aggressor was scared away by neighbours who heard Aykar’s cries. The witnesses described the attacker as a brunet aged 35-40 dressed in black. The attack left Aykar blind in one eye despite the surgery she underwent. On January 23, two unidentified persons attacked another old Armenian woman in the street near Samatia school; they beat her and then left. According to eye-witnesses, the victim, all in blood, hurried to leave, too. A criminal case is launched on this incident; however, the practice of such proceedings in Turkey is widely known by the example of Hrant Dink's murderer's trial.

With all this going on, the fact that Armenians, mostly women, go to Turkey for work, mostly unskilled one and are actually unprotected, cannot but cause concerns. There are no diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey, and there hardly be any in the near future, so Armenian citizens have no one to address in case of trouble. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that Turkey is not the only option for earning one's living. There are no guarantees that children of these people also leaving for Turkey will maintain their Armenian identity. They will definitely face assimilation, and those who survive will just dissolve in the 70 million Turkic environment; that's the reality.

The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan changed the Minister for Internal Affairs; the former mayor of Istanbul Muammer Guler has taken up the position now. The move was hardly sparked by the recent assaults against Armenians. Istanbul is facing constant terrorist attacks, and Guler is expected to stop the wave of violence perhaps. He will hardly succeed in this though; the Kurds, the perpetrators, are not going to surrender until independent Kurdistan is proclaimed. This will mark the end of Turkey which will simply fall to pieces burying the Christians first.

Karine Ter-Sahakian
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