Armenians in Turkey respond to PM Erdoğan: ‘Mind your own business!’

A group of Armenians in Turkey including writers and journalists have published a joint response to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement on a television programme, during which he said, “… and the things, for instance, they said about me; one (that same mindset) said I was Georgian, then another, excuse my expression, in a far uglier manner, said I was Armenian…”

Signed by 16 prominent figures of the Armenian community, including Agos writers, the following is the full text of the statement titled ‘Yet we are beautiful…’:

“… and the things, for instance, they said about me; one (that same mindset) said I was Georgian, then another, excuse my expression, in a far uglier manner, said I was Armenian…”

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
For ages, we were made to shout out, “I am a Turk”.*
(alright, you had that abolished)
We never thought what we were made to shout out was “ugly”. We found it “wrong”.
We never got angry and lost our temper over what they were ordering us to become.
We got angry over the fact that they were forcing us.
You may ask whether there are racists, “Turcophobes” among us. You bet.
As many as there are among every nation.
Yet we do not put those racists among us on a pedestal.
We do not polish them up and place them in the spotlight, saying, “They represent us.”
Just as we do not associate your words above with people who have, or will, vote for you, we have never perceived “Turkish identity” (or Kurdish, Circassian, Muslim etc. identity) as the source of the unjust treatment we have been subjected to for years.
As the Diaspora, on its own land, of a people subjected to Genocide, we live on, modest and apprehensive. Stop using us as bait on your fishing hook. Mind your own business.
Until we, Armenians, Greeks, Syriacs, Turks, Kurds, Circassians, Georgians, Alevis, Christians, Jews and Muslims, with our brothers and sisters whether today they vote for you or not, show that one day we can do better than you – mind your own business.

Anna Turay, Arat Dink, Aris Nalcı, Garo Paylan, Harutyun Özer, Karin Karakaşlı, Kenan Yenice, Hayko Bağdat, Nazar Binatlı, Nazar Büyüm, Ohannes Kılıçdağı, Rober Koptaş, Sebu Aslangil, Şake Yalçın, Tatyos Bebek, Yetvart Danzikyan

* Until 2013, a text known as ‘Our Oath’ that began “I am a Turk, I am right, I am hard-working…” would be collectively repeated by the student body at ceremonies held every morning at primary schools across Turkey.


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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