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Exiled Turkish-Armenian Journalist Hayko Bağdat Speaks to U.S. Armenian Communities

Exiled Turkish-Armenian Journalist Hayko Bağdat Speaks to U.S. Armenian Communities
Hayko Bagdat (/Photograph supply: Bianet)

On January 22, the native Armenian group of New Jersey welcomed journalist and TV and radio character Hayko Bağdat to talk on the Pinajian Middle in St. Leon Church. Bağdat, a Turkish citizen, is taken into account the primary Armenian radio character to air programming about Armenians in Turkey; he’s presently dwelling in exile. He was in New Jersey as part of a bigger tour, visiting Armenian communities within the U.S. to speak concerning the present state of Armenians in Turkey and his experiences, many that are featured in his Turkish-language books.

Bağdat was born in Istanbul in 1976 to a Greek mom and Armenian father, attending Armenian faculties for main and highschool schooling, and later Istanbul College. He started a profession in journalism in 2002, when he produced and introduced the radio program Sözde Kalanlar (“The Remnants”), specializing in minority points in Turkey. The subsequent yr, he began writing for the Marmara Armenian newspaper in addition to the liberal every day newspaper, Taraf. He’s additionally one of many founders of the civil society initiative “Associates of Hrant Dink,” established in 2007 after the assassination of the journalist and free-speech advocate.

In 2015, Bağdat was fined by a Turkish courtroom for “insulting” the mayor of Istanbul Melih Gökçek and exposing his slanderous remarks about Armenians. A yr later, he moved to Berlin after an assassination try on his life in Turkey, continued demise threats and a Turkish arrest warrant issued for his detention. In 2017, with Turkish journalist Can Dündar, he co-founded the information website Özgürüz (“Liberty”) to offer neutral protection on censored points in Turkey. Dündar, previously the editor-in-chief of the center-left Cumhuriyet newspaper, was arrested in 2015 after he revealed footage displaying the Turkish State Intelligence (MİT) company sending weapons to Syrian Islamist fighters. Dündar lives in exile in Germany with an arrest warrant towards him in Turkey.

Throughout his presentation in New Jersey, Bağdat defined that whereas rising up, he was not conscious of the injustices his household endured, as his mother and father sought to guard him from the ache and social problems that such information would convey. It wasn’t till Dink’s homicide that he found his household historical past. He described how representatives of Turkey’s minority teams—together with Greeks, Kurds, Alevis and the LGBT group—got here collectively to debate their experiences of repression beneath the Turkish regime. They referred to as on Bağdat to hitch and representing the Armenians.

Bağdat believes that after 12 years, [Hrant Dink’s] homicide nonetheless has not been solved as a result of the federal government itself is chargeable for it.

Every group had a narrative to inform. The Alevis spoke of the Sepastia bloodbath of 1993 during which mobs set hearth to the Lodge Madimak, the place their individuals had gathered for a cultural pageant. Once they sought assist from native authorities, the state of affairs solely worsened as a result of the authorities and the mob have been one and the identical. Kurds (referred to as “The Saturday Moms”) within the collective spoke of sitting in silent vigil each Saturday in Istanbul to protest the kidnapping and murders of their youngsters through the 1980s and 90s. Following these murders, the moms would figuratively stroll on eggshells of their neighborhoods, fearful that they have been stepping on the bones of their youngsters. The collective needed to know what Bağdat’s “story” was. It was then that Bağdat requested his mother and father about his household’s previous sufferings. One story concerned his mom being sought out through the 1955 Turkish Pogroms concentrating on Greeks of Istanbul when the locals tried to get their arms on the 14 year-old “grocer’s daughter.”

Throughout Dink’s funeral in 2007, the Dink household chosen two boys employed at Dink’s Agos newspaper to drive and handle the crowds. Whereas these boys transported Hrant’s physique from the Armenian Patriarchate to the Agos constructing to the road procession, they have been greeted by 300,000 mourners looking for to pay their respects. Bağdat stated, “These boys’ lives have been by no means the identical after that. Who have been they? Garo Paylan (now a Turkish Parliament member) and Hayko Bağdat.”

Bağdat famous that it was the “Pals of Hrant Dink” who, with Dink’s son Arat, seen the movies of the homicide and found Dink’s killers. He believes that after 12 years, he stated, his homicide nonetheless has not been solved as a result of the federal government itself is liable for it. In line with Bağdat, Ergenekon – a clandestine, ultra-nationalist terrorist group with ties to members of the nation’s army and safety forces – is a really actual idea describing the “Deep State” in Turkey.

In Istanbul’s “Kinaliada” (the primary of the 4 Prince’s Islands), a park for youngsters is known as after Dink. Considered one of Dink’s murderers, “Hantungel,” typically visits the park together with his girlfriend and intimidates the guests. “It’s for pressures like this—and others that I don’t want to speak about—that I left ‘our nation,’” stated Bağdat.

First, the survivors talked about their Muslim neighbors who helped them. Second, they talked concerning the sycophant Armenians who betrayed them to the Turks. Third, they defined what occurred to them in the course of the Genocide. These operating the Armenian group in Istanbul are reduce from the identical material because the sycophants of yore, says Bağdat.

Bağdat said that the Turkish state methodology for ridding themselves of undesirables has not modified within the 600 years that they’ve persecuted Armenians. He stated that simply as Europe let the Ittihadists (Younger Turk masterminds of the Armenian Genocide) go free after World Conflict I, they too will let Erdogan off the hook for his persecutions. Bağdat predicted that Erdogan’s downfall would come at the price of hundreds of thousands of lives. He stated, “Sadly, there needs to be a complete destruction of Turkey earlier than a recent begin can happen.”

When Turkish filmmaker Önder Çakar visited Dzidzernagapert, the Genocide Memorial in Armenia, Bağdat described the tour he was given by former director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, Hayk Demoyan. The Institute had cataloged many interviews with survivors that have been strikingly comparable. First, the survivors talked about their Muslim neighbors who helped them. Second, they talked concerning the sycophant Armenians who betrayed them to the Turks. Third, they defined what occurred to them in the course of the Genocide. These operating the Armenian group in Istanbul are reduce from the identical material because the sycophants of yore, says Bağdat, which now embrace appearing Istanbul Archbishop Aram Ateşian and Bedros Şirinoğlu, Chairman of the Board of Sourp Prgich Armenian Hospital.

In recent times, at a Christmas social gathering held on the Patriarchate, some native Armenians, together with Garo Paylan, have been quietly discussing the need of holding elections for the brand new Patriarch. Somebody listening that night tipped off Akşam (a rabidly anti-Armenian newspaper) which then publicly attacked Paylan and affiliated him with the PKK – the Kurdish Employee’s Get together typically cited by the Turkish regime as being a terrorist group.

Bağdat said that the way through which the 1955 pogroms concentrating on Greeks was carried out is being repeated at this time, solely that now the Kurds are the primary targets. He stated that the YPG (the armed wing of the Kurdish leftist Democratic Union Get together) in Syria is the one entity defending minorities, together with Armenians in that nation. He added, “Regardless that Kurds had a hand in finishing up the Genocide, we should always not keep silent relating to their bloodbath now. 100 years from now, individuals will ask, ‘What did the Armenians do?’” He affirmed that the Kemalist Republican Individuals’s Social gathering (or “CHP”) is not any extra tolerant towards minorities and neighbors than Erdogan and his Justice and Improvement Celebration (or “AKP”). He stated that the pro-minorities Individuals’s Democratic Social gathering (or “HDP”) shouldn’t be fairly the identical since its former co-leader, the Kurdish Selahattin Demirtas was imprisoned, however that it’s nonetheless “our greatest guess.”

On the finish of his presentation, the discussion board was opened to questions from the viewers. One member of the gang requested about current DNA checks carried out in Turkey, and the impact they’ve had on the inhabitants. Bağdat replied, “An enormous secret was revealed. The DNA outcomes infuriated individuals who found for the primary time that that they had Armenian blood.” Along with the truth that your complete public system in Turkey demonizes Armenians as a so-called disloyal ethnic group inside Turkey, most of the people continues to be largely unaware or unaccepting of the genetic theft that the Genocide enabled. Bağdat stated that the DNA challenge was shortly dropped, because it was having a damaging impact on the general public consciousness. “Now the federal government claims to know much more concerning the Armenian ancestry in its citizenry and can use that info to threaten and intimidate individuals. No constructive consequence has come from these DNA discoveries.”

Bağdat concluded his lecture with a parable. A forest hearth destroyed an animal habitat and all of the creatures tried to flee. Some died within the hearth, others suffered smoke inhalation whereas others managed to get away. Survivors gathered in a clearing to debate their plans. Some sought safer lands to start out over. Others talked about placing out the hearth, saving their houses and returning. When some animals turned again, the elephants carried water to douse the hearth. The monkeys did the identical. Even some ants carried droplets of water on their backs. The elephants requested the ants, “What do you assume you’re doing?” The ants replied, “Each bit helps. That is our house. We don’t need to be counted amongst those that give up. We need to do what we will to save lots of our land.” Bağdat was asking Armenians not to surrender on their ancestral homeland. However did he imply that he himself, by shifting to Germany together with his household, would proceed do his half, away from Western Armenia, whereas others struggled from inside? It might appear so.

Lucine Kasbarian

Journalist, political cartoonist and e-book publicist Lucine Kasbarian is the writer of a number of books about Armenia and Armenians. Go to her at:

Lucine Kasbarian

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