ORHAN KEMAL CENGİZ

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ORHAN KEMAL CENGİZ
May 29, 2012, Tuesday

Some things never change

Nowadays I often repeat a sentence that I remember from the film “Matrix”: “Some things in this world never change.”

The reason for this is news I read recently in which some newspapers have started to target the Arameans.

As you know, the Arameans had started to return to their historical lands, Tur Abdin (Mardin-Midyat), in Turkey. Their return has apparently provoked paranoia and nationalistic hysteria in this country, and some publications have targeted the Arameans. Milli Gazete -- which is connected to the Felicity Party (SP), a nationalist conservative political establishment -- has taken a leading role in the paranoid hate-mongering publications about the Arameans.

The title of one of their articles is quite illuminative: “Toprak Satışıyla Ortaya Çıkan Yeni Tehlike Midyat’a Vatikan kolonisi!” (The Vatican colony in Midyat -- the new threat arising from the sale of land). The news itself is quite an interesting read; let’s take a look at some of the paragraphs.

“The sale of land to foreigners mobilized the Nestorians, Arameans and Assyrians under the Great Assyrian State of the Southeast. It was noted that the Great Assyrian lobby, which erected the so-called ‘Seyfo’ Genocide Monument in Stockholm, Sweden, Australia and in three US states with the help of European countries, made moves towards purchasing land in Antakya, Urfa and Mardin.”

“Researcher and writer Doğan Bekin, who in statements to Milli Gazete noted that Nestorians, Arameans and Assyrians, who were looking to revive the great Assyrian State which in history extended from the Southeast to Mosul, had rolled up their sleeves towards great efforts. Bekin said, ‘Everyone knows of the efforts exerted to establish the Great Israeli State. However, another factor that will work to complete this is the purchase of land towards the Great Assyrian State in the Southeast as well as the process of the change of ownership of land’.”

Well, as you see something has never changed. The same old paranoia and the same old provocative language which has been used in this country for the last hundred years. Previously, minorities used to suffer in silence in the face of this kind of aggressive “publication.”

I found little consolation in reading the press release of the Aramean Association. This release started off with some historical facts: “What the Arameans have experienced in the last one hundred years -- the 1915 Seyfo, the 1924 Hakkari exile, the 1928 shutting down of Aramean schools, the exile of the Aramean patriarchate in 1930, wealth taxes, the events of Sept.5-6, 1955 and the 1964 Cyprus events -- have all lead to the decrease of their population on their historical land as well as their slow perishing from this very land. Despite this, the resilience of the resistors, who wished to live on the land on which they were born and raised, was broken by the slaying of 50 Arameans during the era of the ‘unsolved murders,’ which was an application of the pro-Ergenekon mind. Thus the land of the Arameans was taken away from them.”

The press release then goes on to evaluate the news coverage of Milli Gazete: “The thing that scares and disturbs us is the hiding behind the religious mask that personifies the brotherhood of chauvinism and fascism and its dark mentality. We believe those of the Abrahamic religions are not each other’s enemies. But in recent days the Milli Gazete, websites like haberdiyabakir.com and sanliurfa.com, newspapers, news portals and the writings of people like SP general congress member Doğan Bekin are trying to create discord between different faiths and ethnicities. While attempting this they have no compunction about telling 1,001 different types of lies or committing slander.”

“We, Muslims and Christians, have tried to live as brothers on this land for the past 1,300 years, and we continue to try. Our expectation is that all believing, democratic and progressive individuals display an attitude against the enmity that is trying to be formed, [and] saying enough to all of these dark forces…”

When Morpheus in “Matrix” said, “Some things in this world never change,” Niobe responded by asking, “But some things do?” After sighing, she then replied her own question: “Luckily… some things do.”

The Aramean Association’s press release and their courage in openly challenging these paranoid publications show us that “some things do change.” But this is not enough; what needs to follow is a widespread condemnation of these paranoid publications, protection of minorities and vigilance against any possibility for physical attacks that may follow. Some things really do have to change in this country.

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