Mouradian: Armenians, Locals in Diyarbakir Send Powerful Message (Slideshow)

Surp Giragos Opens to the Faithful

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (A.W.)—Armenians from around the world flocked to Surp Giragos Church in Diyarbakir on Oct. 22 to attend both the consecration of the largest Armenian church in the Middle East and the Badarak held the following day.

Hundreds gathered inside Surp Giragos on Saturday for the consecration of the church. (Photo: The Armenian Weekly)

They were greeted with welcome signs written in Armenian, and with Armenian music playing on the streets, cafes, and hotels in the city.

Renovated by the Surp Giragos Armenian Foundation, with the support of the local Kurdish-controlled municipality, the church, which had witnessed a century of destruction, neglect, and denial, now stood as defiant as ever to the forces suppressing freedom in Turkey. And as the faithful of different religions prayed in unison, the political message wasn’t lost on anyone.

Diyarbakir Mayor Osman Baydemir underlined the importance of confronting the past and seeking justice as part of the process of reconciliation and democratization. In an interview with the Weekly, the Kurdish politician said many view the renovation as an act asking for forgiveness. “You are not our guests. We are your guests,” stressed Baydemir, who heads the Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality.

“It’s a bittersweet return for the Armenian nation,” Raffi Hovannisian, the chairman of Armenia’s Heritage Party, told the Weekly. “Here, in this courtyard, you see the great potential and the depth of the loss we as a nation have registered.”

Scott Avedisian, the mayor of Warwick, R.I., who was invited by the Diyarbakir Municipality to attend the opening, concurred. “The faces of people who once worshipped here, were forced out, survived, and have now returned to their church, attest to the fact that they never lost hope and never lost faith,” he said. The renovation constitutes a “powerful message,” he added, as the church is finally “being used for the very purpose it was originally intended.”

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Osman Kavala, the president of “Anadolu Kultur,” an organization that promotes the art and culture of the region, said that “both the district and metropolitan municipalities provided full support for this project.”

“They are open to confronting the past and the responsibilities of the local population,” he said, and expressed his hope that one day the initiatives in Diyarbakir “will have an impact beyond the city, on the national policy.”

“Our grandparents, incited by others, committed wrongs,” Abdullah Demirbas, the mayor of the Sur Municipality in Diyarbakir, told the Weekly in an exclusive interview after the Badarak in Surp Giragos. “But we, their grandchildren, will not repeat them. Not only that, but we will also not allow others to repeat them.”

The challenge in Turkey, he added, is not only to renovate churches, but to renovate mentalities.

The Armenian Weekly will continue to publish in-depth coverage and interviews from Diyarbakir and Mush throughout the week.

Dr. Khatchig Mouradian

Dr. Khatchig Mouradian

Khatchig Mouradian is the Armenian and Georgian Area Specialist at the Library of Congress and a lecturer in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. He also serves as Co-Principal Investigator of the project on Armenian Genocide Denial at the Global Institute for Advanced Studies, New York University. Mouradian is the author of The Resistance Network: The Armenian Genocide and Humanitarianism in Ottoman Syria, 1915-1918, published in 2021. The book has received the Syrian Studies Association “Honourable Mention 2021.” In 2020, Mouradian was awarded a Humanities War & Peace Initiative Grant from Columbia University. He is the co-editor of a forthcoming book on late-Ottoman history, and the editor of the peer-reviewed journal The Armenian Review.
Dr. Khatchig Mouradian

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  1. Wow, I visited the church a few years back with Armen Aroyan group and never imagined
    that it could be renovated so beautifully under present political conditions. What a shocking
    surprise to see that church so gloriously metamorphosed condition. Praise the Lord.

  2. Praise the Lord indeed… I got goosebumps when I gazed at the pictures above.. it was absolutely magical…

    what is more magical was the mayor of Diyarbekir.. a Kurd who admits the truth and is willing to make it right…  there is hope…

  3. Bari Yekak Dzer Tun@.  WOW I have no words. God’s power is manifest clearly in this dark society.  Our home, our church, our faith, our right to our forefathers’ lands.

  4. Thanks to everybody who  helped to this big project. First kudos to Bolsahays, then to Osman Baydemir, and everybody else who made donation to build this fantastic church.  One more time they showed that ( iravunke chen dar, garnen). 

  5. God bless all of you all the times. Amen.
    The LORD is watching and giving HIS Grace and Love with a BIG SMILE.
    JESUS said whatever you saw you reap.
    Bedros Zerdelian


  6. What a waste of money and time
    to renew something which will be
    bombed once again…
    I can’t see any future…
    The days will prove what i say…
    Real propaganda…

    “Who is a builder…can never destroy 
    who is a destroyer…will do it once again”

    So don’t be amazed…
    Don’t call Jesus …
    Don’t call God
    No one of Ours
    Could live there…
    Can you tell me…
    How many real Armenians are living there
    To keep the place…?

    My grandparents come from there 
    My grandmother use to say,
    Our house is near the church…
    And we still have lands there
    With 40 pieces of official documents (tapoo)
    Can they give us back
    what they got by slaying and by force…???


  7. It’s so amazing to see this. Thank you for all those who took part, donated, made the posters and made this happen. God Bless you guys.. It kind of makes me sad though that in Turkey our churches are being repaired while in Armenia, they are neglected by the clergy. I hope Echmiadzin does something about out churches in Armenia..Well began is half done :) 
    Kecce Hay Azg@.. 

  8. Dear  Karen  in India,
    I wish you the best  in yoiur studies.Hope  you complete them soon and then follow  up ,if not in India in some other country wherever they will grant  you a scholarship(our Benevolent people) . If  you have inclination to political science, then pick that  up or similar. Now to what  you have pin pointed. I tries  that  some 4/5 yrs ago when in Yerevan,i.e.  held a few meetings  with people who are historians, travel Agency experts, to try to convince  them that   my scheme  of  1 3-Day Pilgrimage/Fair  next to every(beginning with a few near Yerevan) Monasteries  in danger  of falling apart…wherein ,at those  Fairs(well advertised  by Travel/Tourist Agencies, -we have aplenty-) to bring tourists  to celebrate  Saint name Day and one  Mass onkly by priest  that  St.Etchmiadzin would kindly send over.Nearby  villageers bringing  their  fare,i.e., food  and handicraft  and sell  there.Each paying  like in ¨Vernissage¨  of Yerevan a daily Fee,then some 20% for the REPAIRS  RENOVATION  OF monastery…and rest  indeed for the villagers…

  9. Our Etchmiadzin church, mired in our Genocide and too, the nearly 80 years of the USSR communistic controls… has leaders who remain in set modes -rather than advancing as with so many religions have learned to progress, to lead.  They have much to learn from religious brethren in the free world – who have been moving forward and leading our Armenian religious efforts – as was evident with the recent visit to the USA of his Holiness from Cilicia. Too, today, more comes to light with Archbishop Barsamian’s recent visit to our resurrected Cathedral in Dikrangerd…. A church leader – accompanied with business-oriented cohorts… whither goest this group – in Dikranagerd.

  10. Hi Sylva,

    I was there for the opening. You are right. Not many Armenians are living there to keep the place. I don’t think it will be destroyed again, even though there is a possibility, but what I witnessed on that Sunday morning before the Badarak, thousands of people trying to get inside the church, and the amazing chorus of hundreds after that, singing Hayr Mer, just like it was during my childhood in Dikranagerd was worth every penny spent in restoration.

    Michael Saroyan 

  11. Sylva´s  ¨how many Armenians  living inm turkey¨ and K.Mouradian´s powerfull message.
    Yeah I just  saw/heard on youtube  what  she  had inserted up above and really felt bad,rather  than sorry,for  those wretched souls…
    And thought  what  my grandfather and eldest uncle  suffered on Death March…in the hands  of  those BEASTS-don´t  find a better adjective…
    My fight  is to the end,regardless  what  TARC affiliated people or softened up Armenian compatriots(yes I still consider  them as  my compatriots  ,just  like  those Sylva´s youtube described….) With only one difference  THAT I SHALL NOT BEND,Like  Monte  Like thousands  like  him and in the past Murad,Antranik Gevork Chavoush and many others. This fight is to the end.If we show  of weakness,they will bend  us  oveer.
    Eh Avery, David and all others  who are there like self and do not believe at all what  they profess…
    Waht can we do to alleviate  the last perons´s  PLEA?
    Get  really organzied  and I don´t  mean  like the boys  of latter day(the avengers) and /or the fedayees  of yesteryear..No!!
    Hama Haigaggani SIRO,
    Gaydzag  Palandjian 

  12. A church without a flock of the faithful…what a sad paradox. One day 1,000 Armenians show up, the next day they are off on the retun to their home thosands of miles away. The moral of the story? The tie between these lands and Armenians is fading fast and probably severed forever. Go to Diyarbekir and the surrounding regions where Armenians once called home and see for yourselves. Will the readers of the Weekly ever return there? Will they even relocate to present-day Armenia? It’s an exercise in self-deception.

  13. Rahageets, how sad that you accept the intended result of the Armenian genocide (the disconnect from the land) without hesitation.  Or is it your intention to spread this propaganda of defeatism to Armenians?   You are wrong friend.  Armenians will gladly return to grow their country when they are given full economic and political freedom to do so.  Even today plans are in the works to create cooperative enterprises with the Kurds of Diyarbekir.  100 years is merely a blink of the eye in the full scope of Armenian history.  We know what is ours.  We have not forgotten, Adana, Zeitun, Marash, Dikranagerd, Van, Ani, Ararat…

  14. Bravo  Vagharsh..
    Your message  is  the POWERFULL  one.It is disdainfull whar  Rahageets  writes,to say the least.As to Mr. Muradian´s,if it is meant  to leave  strong impression that  our lands are calling  us back and that we should MOBILIZE   to do so ,fine.But  if he means  that we should -like in the past-depend  on great Turkey´s  bakhshish …then I  oppose  it.
    WE can only depend  on our own  ECONOMIC  POWER, indeed by the people  and magnates to create  my dream CHILD  THE NATIONAL INVESTMENT TRUST  FUND.FOR,without funds  we cannot achieve  anything!!!think about  it please.. 

  15. After reading so many sites…
    i feel there are reason as many Armenians who are Turkified
    And they want to have home and return to their faith, which is their church…
    May be many Kurds have Armenian Blood
    So they helped to repair the church…
    Nothing arrives from emptiness
    Now I changed my Mind …
    There is reason for every thing…
    Time will tell…

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