The issue of crypto and Islamized Armenians from time to time appears in the agenda of Turkish press, political and scientific circles and becomes reason of various speculations. Even superficial observations let us suppose that speculative policy has a tendency to grow up to the extreme form.
In general, the Armenian subject-matter is a delicate and issue. The subject of crypto and Islamized Armenians has been supplemented to it recently making a ground for the Turkish propagandistic machine to raise a new wave of falsification. The Turkish press, different analytics and scientists have again turned to the subject of crypto Armenians using already traditional instruments of speculation, which one may say, are already outdated. Probably it is another reason why the Turkish propagandistic machine, aspiring to novelty, distorts the facts still more and publicly presents preposterous versions.
The Journalist of the Turkish newspaper “Aktif Haber” Yusuf Gezgin is one of those people who is actively engaged in the issues of the apostates and especially the crypto ones. His articles strike the eye with radical, biased approaches. In his latest article on the subject (April 18) Yusuf Gezgin, giving free play to his imaginations, described two allegedly existing groups of crypto Armenians, entitling it “Crypto Armenians against Armenians.” According to him along with the Armenian community of 35-50 thousand which are Christians and are officially considered to be minority, supposedly there are also crypto Armenians pretending to be Muslims, the number of which, according to some sources, reaches one million.
“Many of those Armenians (at least half of them) who staid in Anatolia after the events of 1915” continue living among Turks and Kurds as real Muslims. Even if they are aware of their former identity, anyway, they have no intention to return to it. However, some organizations financed by Europe want to remind the educated youth of this segment about their Armenian roots. The considerable part of this one million who know and realize their Armenian identity, pretend to be Turks or Kurds. From the one hand they take the first positions in PKK and its political organization of Kurdish or Turkish identity, from the other hand they find place among the most racist Turkists with national and even nationalist identity. However, the most authoritative posts (among Kurds, Turks and Alevies) these crypto Armenians hold is political and military bureaucracy. In judicial and military systems and universities there is a big number of crypto Armenians. From time to time they are revealed in universities but nobody dares to speak out their names in the judicial system.”
According to Yusuf Gezgin, Turkish crypto Armenians are divided into two groups. The representative of the first group allegedly prefer not to uncover their identity and continue making influence inside the country, and the representatives of the second group are those desiring to be registered as crypto Armenians and in that way strengthen Armenian presence. These two groups are supposedly seriously struggling with each other. “The policy of uncovering the real identity of crypto Armenians and establishing Armenian colony is supported by the Armenian Diaspora, which believes in the necessity of returning people with Armenian identity to their roots. Journeys are organized to the places inhabited with people of Armenian origin under the name of American, European researchers, tourists and organizations. Different activities are carried out to strengthen their Armenian identity. Makin use of the EU funds, are made efforts to restore Armenian monuments in Anatolia. The crypto Armenians involved in the state structure are a good support to rehabilitation of the Armenian culture. I think that the high points given to Armenia by Turkey during “Eurovision” were the show in witness of Armenian presence. The other group is against openness and considers that its power is in secrecy. This group believes that by means of involving crypto Armenians into the state affairs, PKK and nationalism will be able possible to knee down and divide the Turkish society and state easier. This group is warred that open policy will decipher the positions they have reached by their work of many years. They think that remaining crypto is more influential and beneficial and that it is a better method to attain their objective and take revenge over the Turks. Along with the beginning of the process of Turkey’s membership to the European Union a serious struggle will be unfolded between these two groups of crypto Armenians. ” The author of the article goes still far and even attribute’s Hrant Dink’s assassination to Crypto Armenians: “I don’t consider it impossible that Hrant Dink, who is for openness and speaks about existence of crypto Armenians, was killed by those nationalist crypto Armenians.”
According to Gezgin the group of crypto Armenians carrying out open policy and aspiring at revealing Armenian identity is “cleaner and more innocent” in comparison with the other group. He thinks that self-identifying crypto Armenians may case incomparably less problems for Turkey. The author opens some more of its cards and analyses possible developments resulting revelation of crypto Armenians and their return to their roots: “there was a time when almost one fourth of population in Anatolia made Armenians. They were good friends and neighbors, and were even considered to be “a faithful nation”. Today if they all return to their roots, I don’t think that the Armenians making a little more than 1 %1 of Anatolia’s population may become a problem for the country. However, it is already a century that crypto Armenians give no rest either to Armenians and Turks.”
At the end Gezgin speaks about a well known Turkish thesis that crypto Armenians were everywhere and they might pose serious threats. “In this country crypto Armenians are among us to the extent that they may be leaders of Turkish nationalism, may respond to the Armenian thesis in Lausanne2 on behalf of the Turkish party, wave the Turkish flag in the very first ranks of national demonstrations.”
Not long ago the notorious historian Yusul Halachoghlu, speaking about an allegedly closed archive of Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutiune (ARFD), announced that “During the exile of 1915 for about 90-98 thousand Armenian children and women found shelter in Muslim families and were Islamized by time. They change their names and continue existing in that way. However in mid 1970s these people again began changing their names taking Armenian names. In Anatolia everybody knows who is Armenian. According to Hrant Dink these people made for about 500 thousand.”
Another journalist engaged in this problem, Mehmet Shevket Eygin (Milli gazete, 26.05.08) mentions that the above mentioned problem should be spoken and writtenh about very carefully. According to him crypto Armenians are to be distinguish from “open” Armenians who are inhabited in Turkey as a minority. “It is not right to blame most of the crypto Armenians (be them 500 thousand or 1.5 million). I think that most of them have become real Muslims. However, it’s a fact that there are people among these crypto Armenians who do harm to Turkey.” Than he too continues to speak about the opinion voiced in Turkey not only once that the Armenians are in blame for all the negative things happening in the country (regardless of the fact if they are open or not), and mentions “crypto Armenians played an important role in the revolution carried out on May 27, 1960. In reality the PKK movement was not Kurdish, but Armenian. During the last 60 years crypto Armenians were involved in all the terroristic acts, coups, rebellions, disturbances and violent acts. Once more singling out our citizens, the members of Armenian minority, I announce: today the most vigorous attackers on Islam, Muslims, the Koran and the holy are crypto Armenians pretending to be Turks and Muslims.”
Speculations on the Armenian subjects in Turkey have reached to the extent that even well known Turkofil, an Armenian from Constantinople Panos Dabaghyan has recently appeared with a report (Once Vatan, 6.06.08). Speaking about the above mentioned Turkish authors he asks himself a question: “What would be but for Armenians, what would some people be engaged in, what would they write about and in that way earn their living?” He himself answers these questions: “In that case those journalists just wouldn’t have materials.” Dabaghyan has also touched upon the problem of Armenians’ conversion into Islam mentioning that Islamization of Armenians didn’t begin in 1915 (as he says in the period of exile) but still earlier, during the first contacts between the two nations and continued up to the Ottoman period. And while speaking about Armenians who adopted Islam during the Genocide he sites the decree enacted by that time according to which the Turkish policemen were going from house to house of Muslims demanding them to hand over the Armenians sheltered in their houses. “And after all these isn’t it unfair to label the ones survived PKK members?”
We think all these speculations are to be perceived in a wider context: in the republican Turkey Armenians have always been presented as betrayers, “fifth colony,” and all these were realized on the governmental level. In this very context should be included the necessity to have an enemy in the country, and the most appropriate “candidate” is Armenians. Speaking about this problem the well known journalist Eje Temelkuran asks what the Turks will do in case all the Armenians leave the country, who will be declared to be an enemy according to him they will blame each other in being less Turk and call each other an enemy.
1Let’s mention that according to the latest population census, in Turkey live 70586256 people.
2It is more likely that here Gezgin meant the Turkish Worker’s Party Chairman Dogu Perincek, who was denounced in Switzerland for denying the Armenian Genocide.