24 05 2007 - Official turkish people do not like the Armenians
|reprinting authorized by Appo Jabarian Jean Eckian / May 24, 2007
"Official people do not like the Armenians, because in their hearts they ask: 'Why have the Armenian people throughout one thousand years … not become Muslims and have resisted Turkification?"
An interview with Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu of Istanbul By Appo Jabarian
Executive Publisher/Managing Editor USA Armenian Life Magazine
During the week end of May 17-21, the courageous "Baadvelee" (Reverend) Krikor Aghabaloghlu, the pastor of the Gedik Pasha Armenian Evangelical Church in Istanbul, visited the Armenian American community in San Francisco.
Rev. Aghabaloghlu was invited by Rev. Nerses Balabanian, the pastor of the Calvary Armenian
Congregational Church of San Francisco.
Rev. Aghabaloghlu delivered enlightening and insightful remarks during the Saturday evening
banquet. The banquet took place on May 19, at the jam-packed hall of the church. His speech was
interrupted by thunderous applause and at times with standing ovations. Rev. Aghabaloghlu also delivered the Sunday sermon in the church, filled to near capacity.
Rev. Aghabaloghlu gave an interview to USA Armenian Life Magazine on Sunday just before his departure to New Jersey. The following is the first part of the interview: (The second and final part will be published next week.)
USA Armenian Life: "Baadvelee" Welcome to the USA. What is the primary purpose of your visit to the United States?
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Thank you. The Armenian Brotherhood church in New Jersey has invited me to deliver my message to the community. There is a chapter in the Holy Bible where Moses' children had dispersed. So Moses calls upon his youngest son Joseph to go see what happened to "your brothers, and what they are up to? Bring me their news."
So, I think, God has prepared me and said: "Son, I am sending you to go see your dispersed brothers. See how they are living. What are they up to, and encourage them. Talk to them. Preach to them and encourage them." I thank God for that. For I have many brothers who are inviting me to come and see them. On Monday, I will go to New Jersey. I will stay there for one week and I will preach to the Armenian people.
Once in a while, invitations arrive, and I don't turn them down, because I am God's and the Armenian people's servant. What is the duty of the servant? If the Lord calls, the servant goes. Our Lord has called me too. So, I shall go and serve Him and my brothers.
USA Armenian Life: You are famous around the world for being a courageous Armenian spiritual leader in Turkey, who without any fear states in what is now called Turkey, that today's Turkey was founded on the ashes of Western Armenia. During past direct broadcasts on Turkish national television, you have intrepidly told the Turks directly: "Enough with your denialism of the facts of the Armenian Genocide!" Where does the power for such courage come from?
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: For one thing, I was born in Anatolia and I have experienced many hardships.
USA Armenian Life: By Anatolia, you mean Western Armenia?
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Let's say Western Armenia. Because, we are used to and are taught to refer to Western Armenia as "Anatolia." Now, Western... let's say historic Armenia. Because, where I was brought up, it's not an easy thing to stay Armenian and to live as
a Christian. I have experienced too many hardships and persecutions. I have seen many acts of ill treatment.
You do good deeds but you are "remunerated" by bad deeds. Yes!
There are very good people who do good deeds and you become joyful and you say that "yes you understand
that this is human." The human being shall be like that. But if you do good deeds and you get
maltreatments in return, you do not forget.
... In Turkey there are a few very powerful people who are like that. There are families. And there are
government officials who do not like the Armenians. Because the following lies in their hearts: "Why has the Armenian people throughout one thousand years [Editor- Since 1071 AD when the Turks first invaded Armenia] live with us and have not become Muslim and
were not Turkified?" They cannot accept that. That's why they say: "If they live in Turkey, they should
have become Muslim and been Turkified." If you say, "I'm Armenian," you touch the eye like a thorn or a
needle. He becomes unsettled. Whether you do something or not, the man is like that. His nature is like that.
Oh! You shall be tortured. You shall loose your homeland. You shall loose your schools; and your homes
will be taken away. Your churches shall be confiscated. Your people shall decrease [Ed-in numbers]. And then they will curse at you. You shall listen. And after all that they shall tell you that "you're guilty!"
For how long, for how long, one can keep quiet? I don't know. This is my nature since my childhood. But I could not keep my mouth shut. My father also, wherever he used to go, he would say: "I'm Armenian and Christian."
I was very little and I used to say: "Hayrig (father) why are you saying: "I'm Armenian and Christian?
People are not asking a question like that!" He used to say: "My child when you grow up, you'll
understand!" When I grew up I began to understand. I understood that to be Armenian and to be Christian in
Anatolia was a hard thing to do. They always speak against your religion; against your nation; your family, your blood. You know, they always talk!"
I have been a teacher, history teacher. I have encountered many hardships in Western Armenia. And now
God has called me and I have recognized God's power and have acquired that power. And now that power
brings through my heart such an empowerment that you can't express with words. It's such a great power.
Jesus said: "The Holy Spirit will remain inside you and you shall acquire power."
While acquiring that power, Jesus said: "Now, I am parting to be crucified." His pupils said: "What are You saying. They will kill you." Jesus replied: "I have come for that moment. If dying is needed, I'll go and die." Later, the pupils said: "OK we also will go and die." If you have that kind of love, you'll learn from Christ!
For Jesus, dying is nothing. It was a gain. Later, you too say, for the truth, for the right, for my nation, dying is a game. If need be, I can die. One and one half million [Armenians] have been sacrificed. The odor of their blood permeates my nose. I remember, because I was a child. During my childhood, the elders used to narrate how their fathers and mothers were massacred. They were crying as they were telling. As a child, I used to hear and hear, and hear these things.
Later, again we were subjected to ill treatment during the republic era. Up to ow, the government has not changed. It came up with laws in 1941-42. It took away all the remaining riches from the Armenians. It did the same thing in 1955.
USA Armenian Life: Are you referring to "Varlic vergise" (Possession taxes)?
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: They did it against the Greeks in 1955. But also they did it once more, against the Armenians.
Later, 1974 was unforgettable. It was impossible! I can't come up with a name or it, even if it needs to be defined. I can't name it. It was inconceivable. If you claim that it was a law, it did not fit. Then, the government says: "The churches' becoming rich hurts the government." And it confiscates all the properties from the churches.
Is this possible? So, the church initiated a lawsuit insisting that it had purchased these properties with
money, therefore, it said: "Compensate us." The government replied: "There is neither any money, nor any buildings for you."
We have spoken out. Europe did not understand it. It is only now that Europe has awakened.
But the government will do bad deeds against the church and the Armenian people, then shamelessly it will write in schoolbooks that the "Armenians have back-stabbed us." How did they backstab you?
Now the era of the republic is laid open in front of us, isn't it?
Can our government people say: "during the days of the republic, the Armenian people [Ed- in Turkey] have done this one bad deed???" Have you heard that they have?
USA Armenian Life: No!
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Can anybody prove that?
Good! In 1915 one could claim that the Armenians massacred the Turks. Or you can claim that the
Armenians sided with the Russians.
USA Armenian Life: They are coming up with pretexts.
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Now what? This proves one thing: That is the habit of the Turkish overnment. It always likes to confiscate. Look. The people's heart is good. The majority of the Turkish people are good. They like the Armenian people. They know the Armenians. But what happens? The government people, the official people or the military people always
talk, talk, talk and by talking and talking, they misguide the people. They fill the people's hearts
with bad stuff, you know my brother. So what will happen to them? Oh, they will say: "our rofessors are advising as such. Undoubtedly they are right, because they are our professors."
USA Armenian Life: In your remarks yesterday, you clearly defined the confiscations from the Armenians during the 50's and the 70's as economic genocide...
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Yes, yes! I'll arrive to that. Yes, in my opinion, that is economic genocide.
There is no other definition.
You can't define it any other way. They always take and take. Then they shamelessly say: "we have taken nothing. We don't say anything and you, (Armenians), are lying." How do we lie? Right then and there, if you are a believer, if you recognize Christ, His courage permeates you. And you say: "If sacrificing is needed I can not abstain from speaking out."
When I entered into the church and became aware of these problems, I said to myself: "This is
indigestible! I can't digest it and will speak out."
And I began to speak out.
It is for that reason that I wish to tell the majority of the Armenian people who live in Europe and America
that they don't know the truth about the situation of the Armenian people in Turkey. Many among these people
will tell you: "we're doing well. We're obedient, because, from time to time, they show individuals on
Where do they find them? I don't know! The name sounds Armenian. But the heart is not Armenian. They say:
"we're obedient and well. There's nothing going on here." Oh man! What kind of Armenian are you? USA Armenian Life: Totally enslaved!
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: How can you be an Armenian!
How blind are you that you can't see. Or how cowardly are you that you can't speak out!
I can't comprehend that an Armenian can be this cowardly and say: "We're doing well."
Well it shall be good. It's my homeland. I've not come from the outside. I'm not a beggar. I'm not asking for mercy from the Turkish nation by saying: "Please, I have no place to go to, no home to dwell in. I have no homeland. Accept me in. Let me live here."
I am not like that. Western Armenia is my motherland.
I've been living there since four thousand years and if money is needed to be paid I'll pay taxes. Is there a need to serve in the Army? I'll do that as well. I'm not a beggar. Yes, I'll live well. Why not? Why not?
If others live well, we also will live well in our ancestral lands. ...
I'm very joyful that the churches are open. What else?
Can you teach Armenian history in your schools?
Now the Turkish people in Europe are erecting mosques.
Is that not true? Europe is Christian. She says:
"You're Muslim. Come and open your mosque. Open your school and at the same time, during your holidays,
take your Turkish flag and walk in the streets. Can't they do it? They can! Don't they?
USA Armenian Life: They have freedom.
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Aha! Now, can you do it?
USA Armenian Life: In Turkey?
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: For once, can you, as Armenian in Turkey...
USA Armenian Life: And as an indigenous people...
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Yes, can you take one Armenian flag and observe a holiday? Can you do it?
What kind of freedom is that? How free are we? Can you teach your own children in the Armenian school the Armenian history?
In all the schools, the vice-principle must be a Turk, whose job is to keep an eye on your activities. Now are you free? How free are you? You like to move the church from there, because the number of your people has dwindled here. Now there are other neighborhoods.
Can you relocate your church and build a new church? Can you build? You can't build! According to the new law of two years ago, when Turkey was trying to enter the European Union, "Yes, from now on, the churches can be repaired. The government people are respecting to us in every way" Can you repair your church as result of this new law?
But the Turkish nation in Europe is so comfortable. I am happy for them, they deserve to be comfortable. Why not? But I want to do the same thing here in Turkey. But I can't do it. I can't!
USA Armenian Life: Meaning that in emulation of whatever freedom the Turkish people are experiencing
here in the free world, the Armenians are not able to do the same in their own ancestral lands.
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Yes, in their ancestral homeland!
USA Armenian Life: During the first four months of this year, two earth-shaking murders took place.
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Three of them took place.
Yesterday they killed five more.
USA Armenian Life: Later on, please give some details of the third murder. The first one was on January 19, when the extremist Turks murdered the Armenian journalist and editor of "Agos" Hrant Dink. The second one, if I'm not mistaken, was on April 18, in Malatia when three non-Armenian Christians – one German and two Turkish Christians – were murdered. So, on the occasion of these murders and according to many sources, there is a forecast that these events will become more frequent. Do you agree that this will be so?
reprinting authorized by Appo Jabarian Jean Eckian
End of PART 1. Part 2 of 2 will be published next week.