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Viewpoints from Turkey, Armenia and the Diaspora
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Day 13 - “The diaspora must understand Turkey and Armenians from Turkey.

 
 

 

14 Days in Diyarbakir - 14 Photos of Amed - 14 Pieces on Tigranakert.

"Repair's" special correspondant MJM, a french-armenian journalist, has recently spent two weeks in the current capital of the South Eastearn Anatolia to meet with the past, present and future of the thousands of Armenians who used to live in this city before the 1915 genocide. During his travels, MJM shares with us his many encounters with places, women and men whose story is undeniably related to the Armenians.

This photo essay was done in May 2013, some situations described in these articles have evolved since then.


Day 13: “The diaspora must understand Turkey and Armenians from Turkey.

Paying a visit to the Diyarbakir Book Fair, my attention is drawn to three stands: the publisher Belge, the newspaper Agos, and of the Aras publishing house where the very condescending (to be polite) Migirdiç Margosyan is signing his latest book. The opportunity for me to ask a few questions to the famous Diyarbakir-born writer confirms that it is very hard to interview a man of letters when you haven’t read any of his books and when he answers grudgingly and so very scornfully. So, skipping my unsuccessful interview of Margosyan, I’ll move on directly to my meeting with Yedvart Tomasyan, manager of Aras, with big black eyebrows, a thick beard and sparkly eyes. He assures us that the Turkish civil society is definitely changing on the subject of the Armenian Genocide, but that you also have to be patient: “All the new ideas come from intellectuals – it’s the case in all societies. First, the truth is told by poets then, forty years later, society repeats what the poets had said. Still now, most people only know what the state has told them in the last hundred years. You have to wait until Turkey is democratic, but also struggle for a real democracy to happen her. I, as an Armenian, must be active so that democracy comes to Turkey. I must be in the fight because it’s not by waiting in my corner that it will happen,” explains Tomasyan. He adds that he understands the relative silence and lack of political commitment of the Armenian community of Istanbul: “For a while, Armenians in Istanbul have been saying: Let’s not speak up, let’s keep quiet or something will happen to us. I understand that. They are scared for their lives and their properties because, in this country, something happens to Armenians every ten years,” the publisher concludes.

At the end of out improvised talk, I ask him how the Diaspora can accompany current changes in Turkey. “We don’t care about the Diaspora, that it should accompany us or not, it comes to the same!” he says laughingly. Then, grasping my arm affectionately, he adds, as in confidence: “The Diaspora must understand Turkey and the Armenians of Turkey. There should be people like you who come and meet us, talk with us. That’s how we’ll be able to understand one another. We need this kind of contact,” he adds, with a light pressure on my shoulder. “We need to meet each other, and look at each other’s eyes. From faraway, it’s too complicated.”

  

The 30-year-old freelancer and photographer, MJM, has worked for various newspapers and magazines. His recent work with the Yerkir NGO has permitted him to further develop his views and understanding through photos and documentaries in Armenia and Turkey. An overview of his work is available on his website www.mjm-wordsandpics.com.

 

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