Two Turks join Armenians in Worcester to recall genocide

Two Turks – one Muslim, the other Christian – spoke at a commemoration in Worcester Sunday of the Armenian Genocide, reports.

“We have a duty to face our past,” said Burcin Gercek, a journalist and author from Istanbul who is a doctoral student at Clark University’s Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

“Of course, justice cannot be done for killed people,” she said. “It’s too late for that. But at least a recognition, an official apology, and some steps concerning the Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey could be positive steps.”

Ms. Gercek was a guest speaker at the Worcester Area Armenian Genocide Commemoration held at the Armenian Church of Our Savior Cultural Center on Boynton Street.

The event recalled the estimated 1.5 million Armenian Christians killed by the Muslim Turks of the Ottoman Empire in a bloody campaign that began on April 24, 1915.

Monday is observed as Armenian Martyrs Day.

The successor to the Ottoman Empire, today’s Republic of Turkey, has rebuffed calls to formally recognize the mass slayings as “genocide” or apologize.

For the descendants of survivors of what has been called the Armenian Holocaust, the crimes committed by the Turks a century ago remain closely felt.

Indeed, when Sunday’s master of ceremonies, state. Rep. David K. Muradian Jr., R-Grafton, made reference to the campaign of obliteration waged against the Armenians, he referred to the perpetrators as “those who are not named.”

So the presence of a pair of Turks as guest speakers at the Armenian commemoration was remarkable.

Both speakers are graduate students at Clark’s Strassler Center.

“May God bless all victims who did not even have a gravestone,” said Emre Can Daglioglu, 31, an Orthodox Christian from Antakya, in southern Turkey, on the Syrian border.

Mr. Daglioglu said his research at Clark focuses on the Armenian experience in a Turkish community on the Black Sea coast where, during an earlier campaign of oppression in 1895, Armenian shops were looted, hundreds were killed, and thousands were forced to emigrate.

“We have to apologize for what’s happened in the Ottoman Empire, not only in 1915 but at the end of the 19th century,” he said. “I am trying to pay my debt in that sense to the Armenians.”

He was asked why, as a member of Turkey’s Christian minority, he felt compelled to do so.

“I am the product of that silence prevalent in Turkey,” he said. “I am part of this denial. (As a citizen of Turkey) I have that privilege to be in Turkey unlike Armenians or Greeks who were killed or deported from Turkey. That’s why I think I have to apologize.”

Ms. Gercek, 40, attended with her 5-year-old daughter. The former journalist for the French magazine L’Express recently authored a book, “Against the Current,” telling the stories of more than 200 “righteous people” in Turkey who tried to stop the massacres and prevent the deportations of Armenians.

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