Tankian to Turks: Truly find yourself

Armenian-American musician Serj Tankian, in an open letter published in the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, urged the people of Turkey to face history and “truly find yourself,” enlightening the Turkish public to their government’s rabid efforts to deny the Armenian Genocide.

The text of the letter is presented below:

“Dear People Of Turkey,

My name is Serj Tankian. I’m a Lebanese born Armenian American New Zealander. All four of my grandparents come from the area known as modern day Turkey. My grandfather Stepan hailed from Efkere in Kayseri, while my grandmother Varsenig came from Tokat.

My other grandparents were from Dortiol and Ourfa. None of them left on their own free will.

They were all survivors of the horrible Genocide committed by the Ittihad government during the last days of the Ottoman Empire.

They were all small children at the time. My grandfather Stepan was saved and spent time in an American orphanage as well as a Greek one before arriving in Lebanon as a refugee. My grandmother Varsenig and her grandmother were saved from slaughter by a Turkish mayor who risked his own life to do the right thing.

These are not some stories in the archives of Turkey or other nations. These are the true stories of my family.

Over 600 years ago the areas where my grandparents came from were known as historic Armenia. When anthropologists dig in Turkey, they find the remains of our civilization along with Helenic/Greek and others.

Turkey is very important to me not just because my grandparents came from there but because my whole race came from those lands that were forcefully taken from them, not by war, or in the changing of borders but by the brutal orders of the Ittihad Government. What does this all mean to us today? It’s quite simple. Armenians don’t want to hassle Turkey, or create racial divisions, we just want justice so we can all move on from this historical pain that strains our relationship. This is not just about Armenian history but also the history of Turkey.

Will Erdogan’s government do the right thing by coming to terms with all of this? I don’t think so. Neither will the military juntas that have ruled Turkey throughout modern history.

Do you know that your government spends millions of dollars every year to deny this truth in foreign capitals by hiring all sorts of lobbying firms and setting up chairs at universities to re-create the truth to its liking? Do you know how that feels as an Armenian? What a painful experience this is? Is it not enough that I am the grandson of survivors of a horrible tragedy of history? Must I fight propaganda and corruption internationally to regain justice?

Turkey’s modern turmoil to find itself has a lot to do with us Armenians. Our histories, geographies, and blood are too close not to resolve these issues.

Both Armenians and Turks deserve leaders and governments that are truly egalitarian, democratic, and non-corrupt to start with. In closing, I just want to say thank you to all of the amazing people I’ve met from Turkey who have shared their stories with me while on tour and online and have given me hope of a rapprochement based on truth and justice.

My wish, Dear People of Turkey, is for you to truly find yourself”.

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