It is the 20th anniversary of Agos' foundation. These are the days full of mixed feelings for us. On the one hand, we realize that a child who was born on the day when our first issue was out is now 20 years old and on the other hand, we know that this imaginary child, in the middle of her life, witnessed the murder of Hrant Dink by an organization in which stated is included and she will go on her life with this memory... So, our state of mind is the same with that imaginary child's life.
Throughout the week, some people wanted to interview with us on the occasion of 20th anniversary, we thank them. While we were talking to them, naturally, we remembered and reminded the conditions in the time of Agos' foundation process.
Here is what we have said roughly: “In '90s, nationalism was on the rise in parallel with the war against Kurds. And once nationalism rises, we always witness the deliberate process of pointing Armenians as target. Once again, Armenians started to live under a lot of pressure. Each day, there were news like “PKK guerrillas are Armenian” or “It turned out that Öcalan is Armenian”. After a while, these claims were put into action, we saw that people wrote some things targeting Armenians on the walls of churches and schools. Of course, Karabakh War had been used to incite this atmosphere.”
Having said such things, it was inevitable to go on as the following: “Just like today... Yes, since the negotiation process was put aside mostly by the government, we have been witnessing Armenians' becoming a target like in '90s. Police vehicles wandering around Kurdish cities and shouting 'You are all Armenians. Armenians love you', special operation team that entered Surp Giragos Church and did nationalist gestures, rumors like 'PKK guerrillas are Christian' that are once again spread by pro-government press organs, reports about a Bible in Kurdish, rumors about the people who burn the mosques down and etc. For Armenians, the situation is really similar to the situation in '90s.
On top of that, as part of the urgent expropriation decision in Sur province, churches and properties, including Surp Giragos, are expropriated; as you may remember, we covered this story. Though government says “Right of property won't be violated”, it is obvious that this decision will cause a lot troubles for Armenian and Christian society. I mean, also in terms of right of property, the situation is similar to '90s.
While we were talking about these issues, the clashes escalated in Karabakh. We suddenly realized that nothing changed there either. In fact, we can say that it is worse than '90s, since state's unconditional support to Azerbaijan is obvious now. For instance, when the clashes started, President Erdoğan said things like, “12 Azerbaijani brothers are martyred and I think over 100 Armenians are killed. Now, the clashes continue in Azerbaijan. We pray for them. If God pleases, our Azerbaijani brothers will succeed with minimum loss possible.”
For some people, these statement would seem normal. After all, this is a state that produced a slogan like “One nation, two states”. Nevertheless, seeing and presenting Azerbaijani soldiers as martyrs while being pleased by the number of casualties of Armenians, state's choice of organization on the basis of “race” and “religion” and its emphasis on this form of organization by sugarcoating the war and death is thought-provoking.
And this very attitude, during the most intense clashes, spread to all TV channels, public and private alike, and in all the news bulletins, Azerbaijani soldiers were mentioned as “martyrs”, whereas Armenian soldiers were mentions as “dead”.
What else could happen? In fact, it wouldn't be unusual to expect a soothing attitude from the state about such an issue. For adopting a soothing attitude is a responsibility of all the states which are at peace with their history and society, and wish to set an example in their regions. However, Turkey hasn't been such a state for a long time now. Getting ill-tempered by the Syria adventure that seems to be at a dead-end, the government might be willing to fulfill its regional expansion dreams in Caucasus. In fact, it is obvious that the state goes in that way. Probably, there are additional motives like desires about energy basins and “fighting” with Russia there as well.
However, this policy of fanning the flames is only good for inciting hatred against Armenians once again. Last week, after Azerbaijan declared that they killed 170 Armenians, we had seen racist and aggressive statements against Armenians on social media; of course, Armenians in Turkey were also on target. This reminded us that almost nothing changed about this issue. We once again realized that hatred against Armenians in Turkey has always been produced with the help of the state.
Back to what we were saying: 20 years ago, 20 years after... We realized that many things changed and some things remained the same. In the hope of change...