2015 has a big meaning for many things like ‘Gallipoli War‘ and ‘Armenian Question’s in 100th year. We all heard about these events but what really happened in 1915 and why can’t we still find an answer to these questions?
RELOCATION LAW IN 1915
Ottoman Empire took a decision on May 27, 1915 and put this decision into action on June 1, 1915. This was called ‘Tehcir Kanunu’, ‘Relocation Law’ or ‘Armenian Relocation’. This law aimed, to take measures against anti-government activities, keep away from war regions and protect Armenian citizens. Ottoman archives are telling 422.758, American archives, on the other side, are telling 486.000 Armenians moved to other places on this period.
Armenian diaspora’s claims are telling, that they lived a genocide on this period but diaspora is giving contradictory numbers about this event. Ottoman archives are telling, last population counting happened in 1914 in Ottoman Empire. Documents are telling about 1.221.850 Armenians living on Ottoman soils in 1914 counting (around 1.250.000 in 1915). Also, archive documents are telling about who is working in Ottoman banks, government buildings, army (…) they continued their work and didn’t move to other places.
Armenian diaspora is telling that about more than 1.500.000 Armenians died in 1915. With this claim is born a question in our minds, that period lived 1.250.000 people and only moved 420-500 thousands people. How died 1.500.000 people?
HOW MANY PEOPLE DIED?
This law was put into action between June 9, 1915 and February 8, 1916. Ottoman archives are giving this information about law and numbers: “From Adana, Ankara, Eskisehir, Aleppo, Izmit, Kayser, Sivas, Trabzon, Yozgat, Kutahya and Birecik 391.040 people moved to new places. That’s 356.084 people who reached these places.” Have lost around 35.000 Armenians over this information.
Also, explaining this situation with these words in archives: “26.064 Armenians were not added to this move.” This means that between 9-10 thousands of people died on this period. Archive documents (Ottoman archive and other documents) continue with that information: “500 people were killed between Erzurum-Erzincan by gangs. 2000 people were killed on Urfa-Aleppo way by gangs. 2000 people were killed on gang raid in Mardin. 5.000-6.000 people were killed in Dersim region by local people”.
Ottoman archives underline, “Definitely any Ottoman soldier didn’t touch to Armenians for the purpose of genocide”. Near this archive holding numbers about how many people moved and how many people reached to new places. Also, archives are telling, where there were found hospitals and orphanages for Armenians, how much money was spent and Ottoman Empire’s effort for their citizens.
TURKISH GOVERNMENT’S STEPS
Turkey refuses this claims by Armenian diaspora and are calling for impartial and a fair research. Also, with this call, Ottoman archives were opened and all documents about 1915-1916. Armenian government steps are also contradictory about this event, but except for their blames, we can’t see any strong steps.
Last year President Recep Tayyip Erdogan published a message about 1915’s events, this was the strongest step and first message on the Presidential statu. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s answer and attitude was harsh against this friendly step. Near this President Erdogan’s last words about this event, “We opened our archives and are waiting Armenian archives for rights, also we must answer these questions and take care of our future. Turkey is ready to compensation if found guilty” (Turkey mentioned “compensation” officially for the first time).
By the way, Armenian President Sargsyan showed again a rude attitude. This attitude of Armenian President’s, Armenian governments obstinately don’t want to open archives and Armenian diaspora’s contradictory claims born questions on our minds. Why is Armenia closing ear for Turkey’s peace and solution calls (despite Karabakh problem).
WE ARE BROTHER PEOPLE ON THESE SOILS
Armenians and Turks are still living together on these soils, sharing same culture and this is the most important thing I think. I always support this, “past can not be future”. Whatever was lived in 1915-1916, we just can see from documents for now but we can do a research and can find answers to our questions. We can built our unity again, how we did before.
We are brother people on these soils from East to West, North to South, with all colors. Some people still can’t understand what it means. We are like a mozaic, we must keep this mosaic strong because otherwise that will be piece by piece again. We can’t find another change for building it.
We are brother people on these soils and strongest evidence about this ‘Gallipoli’. I said before and saying again, ‘Hristo, Mehmet, Agop are sleeping side by side there. And they are the strongest message to us’.
Clara Yeteroglu, daughter of an Armenian father and Turkish mother. She wrote a composition in 2012 and won the First Prize in a competition held at the Istanbul-based Erdil College.
Lastly I wanted share Clara’s words on this part, she was only 14 when she wrote these words. She is telling many things to us:
“From time I realized myself, one part of mine is Turkish and Muslim, and my other part is Armenian and Christian. The conflicts and arguments which are intended to be placed in our country lately bring questions to my mind. Why do they want to make enemies of these two friendly communities, who lived in peace for centuries? What side should I take or do I have to be on one side?
Today in Turkey there are about 40-50.000 Armenian Turkish citizens. This number was much higher at the time of the Ottoman Empire, but regretfully during WWI, ‘Loyal People’ named Armenians were incited by French and Russians and some of them revolted. Armenians reputed for their national loyalty, became part in undesired incidents in the East. May be both sides had to do bad things to each other because of war. People who lived together in peace for centuries started to see each other as enemies, just because of the interests of other countries. As a result no Armenian State was founded and neither the dead came back. Both sides lived days full of pain. In the recent twenty years, some bad intended thoughts started to provoke the Armenians living in Turkey. As a result tensions started to escalate between two people.
Aged 14, I started to interpret these last incidents from my own world. I am born from a Turkish mother and Armenian father. In this country I can go to Armenian school and do my prayers in church. I can buy newspapers and magazines in Armenian language and follow the events. During national holidays I can freely celebrate the days and become part of our own community. More interesting is the fact that our state gives us moral and material support continuously and I am proud to say this. Well, then what is the problem?
I think that the problem is that foreign powers do not like us to live in peace in Turkey. I am both Armenian and Turk or from Turkiye. I think that there many who think the way I do. When the Eid al-Adha Holiday or Christmas comes, we celebrate both. We respect every one and we are likewise respected by all. At this time I am studying in a Turkish school, I see no discrimination from my friends or teachers. I can preserve my own faith and discuss all subjects with my friends. My best friends are Turks and I think that I am also their best friend. I am fed up to think of what happened years ago and induced to make us suffer the pains of the past. I want to be left in our own natural course and not to invoke our friendly daily lives.
My name is Clara, my family name is Yeteroglu (means son of enough). I think, that this rounds up everything!”
Turkish Armed Forces resources are used in this article*