The first disaster

I had an interview with Sibil, a young Armenian Turk. She’s in ‘Hadig’, a group of young Armenian people who want to carry on Hrant Dink’s legacy. Hrant Dink, the Turkish Armenian journalist and founder of bilingual newspaper Agos, was murdered almost a year ago. One of Dink’s missions was to make the Armenian community in Turkey more visible. After the mass killings of Armenians in the last days of the Ottoman empire, after discriminating tax laws, after riots against Greeks in the fifties that also affected Armenians, and after Armenians were falsely accused of having links with the PKK, the Armenian community never had any reason to open up, let alone to be proud of their identity. Hrant Dink tried to change that and inspired many people.
After Dink was killed, most Armenians said: See, another disaster for us, nothing will ever change. For Sibil, 24 years old, it was different. She and some friends of similar age formed Hadig (Armenian for ‘seed’) and organised a sound installation: 19 columns and articles by Hrant, recorded by a selection of fairly famous Turks, to be heard on 19 headphones in a small exhibition space in down-town Istanbul. Above the headphones  are portraits of Dink. Many people come to listen. ‘We want Dink’s voice to be heard’, Sibil explains. But, I ask her, how can you still hope for change, given the history of the Armenians? ‘For me’, she answers, ‘the murder of Hrant was the first disaster to hit the Armenian community that I actually was alive to experience. The rest I only know from stories. That’s in the past, and I hope my first disaster will be the last. Maybe my actions will help to accomplish that.’
It was good to meet Sibil. And to see that Hrant Dink was not the only brave and hopeful Armenian in Turkey.

1 thought on “The first disaster”

  1. The Armenian community has long deeind this criminal element exists. They deny that fraud is culturally embeded in some of their population, or that there is a huge Armenian organized crime problem in southern California. Have you evert heard the ANC discuss this issue? Instead, they accuse the police of racism whenever Armenian crime gangs come up.And ron, you are way off base implying that most of the gangs violence and crime was against other Armenians. It’s not, and you give no facts whatsoever to back ip your assertions.

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