Stichting Vrouwen Onderzoeks- en Communicatiecentrum NEWA

Muslimized Armenians: I would very much like to maintain my culture

Most of the Armenian people who were subjected to physical and then cultural genocide in the beginning of the 1990s, could not even mention their children that they are Armenians to survive. These children are now adults and say: “I would very much like to maintain my culture.”
Her story is the story full of ‘secret’ between the lines of the other history… They keep the traces of the genocide they faced in 1915 ‘saying in a whisper’ in their lives. They are Armenians forced to live by accepting the Islamic identity in Turkey… The Armenians, who maintain their lives by hiding their identity remained from their killed families and who faced cultural genocide during this period, say they still live in fear of genocide despite all these years.
Vildan Değertaş and Şerafettin Değertaş living in Varto district of Muş province said they were Armenian ‘in a whisper’. Vildan and Şerafettin, whose families were subjected to physical genocide, describe the effects of cultural genocide as follows; “Now if they ask us, we cannot say we are Armenians…”
Something engraved in their memory and their hearts
Stating that she has lived a nomadic life since her childhood, Vildan said her grandfather had witnessed the genocide against Armenians. Saying that her family has been full of apprehension due to bearing witness to the genocide, Vildan says “We hid that we are Armenians in all the cities we went to. We grew up with Muslim culture.”
‘I don’t know the Armenian culture’
“My mother and father talked about the genocide among themselves,” Vildan said, “We didn’t know what had happened when we were children. They tried to hide it from us. Stating that she made friends from the Kurdish children in the cities of Kurdistan and she thought she was a Kurd, Vildan says, “I do not know the Armenian culture and religion. I would like to know… I would very much like to maintain my culture.”
Questions left unanswered…
Mentioning that he learned he was an Armenian after years, Şerafettin said he had asked many questions when he was a child and his all questions had been left unanswered. “As you get older, you begin to learn what your family faced. You learn who you are, what your family faced from hearsay information. You don’t have any answer when you ask your parents about what you heard.”
‘If they ask me, I cannot say I am an Armenian’
“There are no culture, language and religion…” said Şerafettin and he talked about what they lost after facing physical and then cultural genocide; “If they ask me, I cannot say I am an Armenian because I don’t know anything about being Armenian. Some of villages maintain the Armenian culture but in a secret way. Before I tried to learn my own culture but there is a great hate against Armenians. I would like to live freely like other peoples without being deprived of my own religion, my language.”
/ News Center /

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