‘I wish I wasn’t Armenian’

January 28, 2013, Monday/ 16:42:00/ ORHAN KEMAL CENGİZ

On Monday when I was turning the pages of the Taraf daily, I came across this very striking headline, “I wish I wasn't Armenian.” These are the words of an old Armenian lady whom the Taraf correspondent called Aunt Seta. Ms. Seta is a close friend of the four Armenian women who were attacked in the Samatya neighborhood of İstanbul recently. One of the ladies died while the others were seriously injured. No suspect has been caught yet. Some argue that these ladies, all of whom were over 80 and living alone, were attacked by thieves whose only intentions were to steal their valuables.

Well, as I discussed in my earlier column, even if the intent of the attackers was robbery, this does not change the fact that there is an obvious racial hatred behind these assaults. If their only purpose was to steal a few items from these old ladies they could easily incapacitate the women without the brutality. But instead they brutally beat and stabbed these women. And we have additional information provided by the neighbors, including Ms. Seta, who said that the assaulted Armenian women were actually quite poor. There are of course other theories circulating currently. One of them claims that the attackers intend to scare Armenians away from Samatya in order to seize their properties. Whatever financial or material gains may appear to be behind these attacks, I do not think they eradicate the racial hatred apparent in their execution.

And it seems to me that these attacks have already achieved a lot. As you can see from the words of Ms. Seta, they have managed to plant profound hopelessness in Armenians and open up some old wounds which might not have healed completely.

Maybe we need to look at the broader picture to gain a wider perspective on these recent attacks against Armenians in İstanbul. Very recently a Greek church in İstanbul was stoned by “unknown” people. Then, the police revealed an extremely detailed assassination plan against one of the pastors of the İzmit Protestant Church. The police announced that they caught a dozen suspects who appear to have been preparing for this attack for months. They are from different cities. Amongst them are women and some of them penetrated the church disguised as newly converted Christians. This assassination plan seems very professional and organized to me.

There was another concerning development in İstanbul very recently as well. An Armenian intellectual, who does not want to reveal his identity, told me that he barely managed to escape unscathed from a planned attack by two youngsters who were sent by an ultranationalist who was angry with some of the words that this Armenian intellectual had made on TV.

Well, in a country like Turkey, if several things as I mentioned happens in a matter of weeks, we should have every reason to believe that they are organized and somehow connected to each other. Apparently, some circles are frantically trying to create an atmosphere of terror for non-Muslims in Turkey. When there was a comparable level of activities against non-Muslims in 2006 and 2007, they ended up in disaster with a string of murders of Christians: Father Andrea Santoro in Trabzon, Hrant Dink in İstanbul and three Christians in Malatya were killed.

Since the beginning of the Ergenekon investigation in 2007, we have not witnessed such kinds of attacks against non-Muslims. Some cells seemed to have been reactivated to give Christians a hard time once again. I really hope that officials will grasp the severity and gravity of the situation soon and act quickly in order to bring the attackers and the people behind them to justice. This situation is quite serious and alarming!