Another light appeared in the tunnel in Turkey in the beginning of November when scholars in Turkey discussed an issue which very few people spoke about during the past decade and nobody spoke about the topic during previous decades. This time, the light was very powerful and bright. Scholars openly discussed issues concerning Armenians and Kurds whose ancestors were Armenian, but were forced to denounce their Armenian origin. A decade ago, nobody spoke about the Islamized Armenians and Kurds. Nobody dared to utter the word “Genocide” as it was legally forbidden to use the word in Turkey. Many of these Islamized persons were forced and coerced to renounce their Armenian ancestry and adopt the Islam religion under immense pressure and threat against their lives.
Yet, a few weeks ago, a conference was organized by the Hrant Dink Foundation to discuss the issue of “Hidden Armenians”. And indeed it was great, a very daring step forward as many scholars from Turkey, Germany, France, Armenia, the United States (three people from Los Angeles) were invited to participate in the Conference co-sponsored by the Boghazici University with the participation of Armenian Organization of Malatia. It was a great evolution and huge change (improvement?) in Turkey. More than 700 people attended the conference and the sessions were filled to capacity during the three days. Indeed, a groundbreaking event.
There were themes which were completely new to the audience. It was the 1938 killing of Armenians and Kurds in Dersim. There were questions and answer periods and questions were asked that no one dared to ask even once a decade ago and no one dared to give an answer to those vital questions.
It was difficult and dangerous for thousands to admit their Christian Armenian ancestry for fear of being killed or losing their jobs. One good, brave example was His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshian, head of the Armenian Church in Turkey. In an interview a few months ago on Turkish television, he clearly stated that he had recently discovered his sister in Diyarbakir, where she was forced to accept the Islam religion.
Many Armenian women were raped and forced to marry Turks. Many resisted by also many were brutally killed.
This conference had four-fold interpretations: There was no government interference during the conference; Armenian speakers were also invited from outside of Turkey, the public revelation of the “hidden Armenians” in an respected educational institution; and the wide coverage of the event in Turkish mass media press, radio and television. And now You Tube.
These are all important by products of the conference, particularly the coverage in the media, when thousands and thousands of Turks became aware for the first time about “hidden Armenians” and I am sure they were surprised. I am sure reading other reports and books written by renowed Turkish scholars about the Genocide will surprise many Turks and they will question as to why they never knew or never were taught about these atrocious events, and why the cover up?