Thursday, October 18, 2007

An open letter to the Armenian Diaspora

Last weekend I had some time to read some books about Armenia, its Diaspora, genocide claims and so on. And interviews and articles by Halil Berktay and Fethiye Cetin. And started to read My Grandmother by the latter. Both persons have refreshing ideas about the Armenian and Turkish history. Totally different than the empty rhetoric which dominates mainstream Turkish newspapers.
But today, my good friend Mustafa Akyol, wrote an excellent column which you can read below:

An open letter to the Armenian Diaspora

Thursday, October 18, 2007

An open letter to the Armenian Diaspora (Mustafa AKYOL )

If we will start listening to your narrative, that will not be because we are pushed into a corner by the politics of a powerful lobby, but because our hearts are touched by the memoirs of a terrible tragedy.

Mustafa AKYOL

Dear all,

A few days ago a new friend of mine who happens to be an American Armenian played some beautiful songs for me that come from the deepest roots of her ethnic tradition. While I enjoyed the numinous rhythms of that magnetic Armenian music, I realized how similar they were to the tunes of the Turkish classical music that I have grown up hearing. “Despite all the political warfare,” I said to myself, “alas, look how similar we are.” I actually have a similar feeling when I drive along the magnificent mosques and palaces of Istanbul, some of which were built by Armenian architects – men in fez who devoutly worshipped Christ and proudly served the Sultan.

Well, we were the children of the same empire, weren't we? We actually lived side by side as good neighbors for centuries until the modern virus called “nationalism” descended upon us. And then hell broke loose.
Continue reading here.

10 comments:

R said...

Response to Mustafa Akyol:

It would be nice to think all Turks were like you. Open-minded, willing to consider other narratives.

There were certainly periods of greatness during the Ottoman Empire, greatness which Armenians contributed to although as second class citizens.

I am glad you read Lewy although I hope you also read Taner Akcam as you follow the evidence.

Perhaps its true that the diaspora is fanatical but consider that the diaspora was created by Turks. Contrary to what you might think the Armenians are a fractious bunch but if there is an issue which binds them around the world it is this one. Because the issue is not just about you and your country. Nor is it about reparations as is often alleged. It is about the unquenched thirst for justice which is carried forward from generation to generation. So more books, scholarship, movies, etc are being produced.

Whether you come to terms with your history or not is up to you. If you are sincere then show some good faith. Open your border with Armenia. Repeal article 301. Stop threatening and even killing the Armenians of Turkey. Stop reacting hysterically.

By the way as I write this it looks like your threats have stopped the resolution in the U.S. Congress. For now.

Hans said...

R.
The White Path is Mustafa his blog.
You can find his blog on the right side of the main page of this blog.
Scroll all the way down.
regards

Myrthe said...

Hans, I have heard about Cetin's book and I'd love to read it. Did you read the English translation? Has it already been published in English?

Hans said...

Myrthe, I had to write 'excerpts' (uitreksels en commentaar) Also, Mijn Istanboel van Bernard Bouwman is really interesting.
Its available at bol.com. Heb regelmatig contact met hem, en een fantastisch boek. Hij schrijft voor NRC en NOS.
My Grandmother will be available in English in a couple of months.
My Istanbul probably too (now only in Dutch)

Myrthe said...

I'll definitely keep an eye out for Cetin's bbok in English then! I am still planning to get Bouwman's book, but now that you mention it will probably be translated in English I might wait for that. The reason? So that I can give it to others in Armenia to read. Otherwise, Dutch would obviously have been fine for me. ;-)

Myrthe said...

By the way, if time allows, I'll write a reply to Mustafa's column over the weekend and post it as a separate post. I am swamped in things to do and have a wedding on SUnday, so I hope I'll find the time.

Hans A.H.C. de Wit said...

that will be interesting, a reply...looking foward.
Bernard's book translated will take time..))

Tufan said...

The problem with us Turks is: we are never grown up with dialoque, discussion, cross talk.
The back bones of a nation must be the educational system, and there we failed.
I don't agree with M. Akyol most of the time, but at least he try to start listening and opened a discussion. And he is right: we Turks are no monsters.
Cheers.

Tufan said...

Oh Myrthe, I am looking forward to your reply, since you are a Dutch in Armenia, like Hans a Dutch in Turkey.
Hope that we can discus here without fear.
Cheers.

Myrthe said...

I am still trying to find one quotation in a book I recently read. Something Mustafa said immediately reminded me of that quote. Once I found it, I'll put my post up. I am not searching for a needle in a hay stack ;-) - I know the book it comes from and even which part of the book. Somehow I just can't find it back.

Anyway, I am working on it. In the meantime, I put another post up.