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 2: Aram’s Dream
Seckin Aydin, 32, an artist and philosophy professor at Dicle University, was introduced to me the day I arrived in Amed1 at a café called Mona’s. “Sit down, are you hungry? Here, taste this, I won’t be able to eat it all,” he tells me as we introduce one another. He explains that he would soon be in Italy to take part in a contemporary art Biennal. “Do you know Aram Tigran?” he asks me while holding out a slice of bread spread with some ezme. Who doesn’t know Aram Tigran here!? Singing just as well in Armenian and Arabic, Aram Melikyan, by his real name, is considered one of the greatest musicians and singers in the region. Above all, he is the man who connected Kurdish and Armenian cultures, although he is finally little known among Armenians. He died in August 2009 after expressing a wish to be buried in the land of his forefathers, in the Armenian cemetery of Diyarbarkir. But the Turkish Ministry of the Interior refused to deliver such an authorization.
Seckin explains his project to me: “While researching on Aram Tigran, I stumbled upon a quote by him that said: ‘If ever I come back to earth, I’ll take all the tanks and all the firearms and will turn them into musical instruments.’ It was sort of Aram Tigran’s dream, and I decided to make it come true”, the smiling artist tells me candidly. So, after collecting weapons and having them melted, Seckin asked several Diyarbakir artisans to make instruments from them, such as a darbuka (goblet drum) and a daf – a sort of large drum on a metal frame. “I’ve got Kurdish friends who live in Italy and I’ll invite them to play Kurdish music with these instruments!” says Seckin excitedly. He concludes: “As you know, people here have killed Armenians, and there really aren’t any nice stories to tell about relations between Kurds and them. Aram Tigran’s story, whose father was saved and brought up by Kurds and made his son promise to honour them by singing in their language is one such story, and I like it a lot”.
Before his death, Aram Tigran had been at last able to see again with his own eyes the place where his parents had lived. He had given a concert in Batman for the Day of Newroz, the Kurdish New Year. He had also travelled to Diyarbakir and the warm welcome he received inspired him to write a song: “Di xewnên şevan de min bawer nedikir (If I had dreamed it, I wouldn’t have believed it)/Bi çavan bibînim bajarê Diyarbekir (Be able to see Diyarbakır)/Rojbaş Diyarbekir je pir bêriya te kir (Hello Diyarbakır, you missed me a lot)/Te derî Li je vekir (You opened your doors to me)/Te je kir de şa (You made us very happy).”
 Kurdish name for Diyarbakir.
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.