New Armenian Weekly Correspondent to Report from Diyarbakir

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey—The Armenian Weekly welcomes its new correspondent, Gulisor Akkum, who will regularly file reports from Diyarbakir/Dikranagerd.

Youth burning tires to prevent the police from approaching demonstrators in Diyarbakir on Oct. 30. (Photo by Gulisor Akkum, The Armenian Weekly)

Akkum is a journalist based in Diyarbakir. She received her sociology degree in 2003 from Dicle University. Her first article for the Armenian Weekly, titled “Let’s give Armenians what we took from them,” appeared in the paper’s April 2009 magazine.

Since October 2012, Akkum has been filing reports and photographs for the Weekly on the hunger strike of Kurdish prisoners, protests in the south-east of Turkey, as well as Armenian-related news, such as the opening of the bell tower of the Sourp Giragos Church and the launch of the second installment of an Armenian language course in Diyarbakir.

“The Armenian Weekly appreciates Ms. Akkum’s dedication to providing accurate reporting to our readers worldwide, despite the difficult conditions in the southeast of the country,” said Weekly Editor Khatchig Mouradian. “Last week alone, her camera was confiscated and the police erased the photos she had taken during a protest in Diyarbakir,” he added.

Akkum will also periodically contribute opinion pieces for the Weekly.

23 Comments on New Armenian Weekly Correspondent to Report from Diyarbakir

  1. Very cool. I’m glad there is a correspondent in Diarbekir. I hope to read more of your articles Gulisor can. :) Thank you for your efforts.

  2. Salute to Ms. Gulisor Akkum for her brave undertaking on behalf of Kurds and Armenians. This is very heart-warming. Diarbakir/Tigranakert and what happens there in terms of Kurdish-Armenian rapproachment can be a cornerstone from which mutual trust and understanding between our two peoples can be strengthened. Only this way the Turkish hegemony over Kurdistan and Western Armenia can be brought down.

  3. Salute to Ms. Gulisor Akkum for her brave undertaking on behalf of Kurds and Armenians. This is very heart-warming. Diarbakir/Tigranakert and what is happening there in terms of Kurdish and Armenian rapprochment could well be an historic cornerstone from which mutual trust and understanding can be strengthened between our two peoples. Only this way the Turkish hegemony over Kurdistan and Western Armenian could be brought down.

  4. Suren and Arshag, I also appreciate very much that Ms. Akkum is reporting from
    old Amida Town. As long as somebody is reporting what both our peoples concerns its ok. But of course The Armenian Weekly cannot devellop to the Kurdish News reporting mainly about the Kurdish struggle in the Southeast. This should also be clear to Ms. Akkum. This is the task of ROJ – News and other Kurdish newspapers.

  5. WR
    I understand your worry. The Armenian Weekly is an Armenian news media and should also remain as such. However, since the future of the Kurdish and Armenian struggles are closely bound to each other, we may also be informed about the important developments in Kurdistan, just as the Kurds should be kept informed about the important events concerning Armenians.

  6. Arshagjan – One of my best friends is Kurd from Iraq. Mutual information of course is important. But in the methods of struggling we totally have to differ.
    Whereas the Kurds are a strong people that under many circumstances can rely on power and weapons, we have to fight by diplomacy. Its still our task to convince
    ALL governments and especially the Turkish people and its government of the
    committed Genocide. – What makes a big impression on me is the friendship
    of the Diyarbakir Lordmayor shown towards us.

  7. What Kurdish-Armenian rapprochement….What Kurdish-Armenian struggle….Please tell me which Armenians are today sitting down with Kurds and talking about the past and future? Which Armenians are struggling alongside Kurds in Turkey against the regime in Ankara? Why would the Kurds even think about talking to Armenians when the Armenians contribute nothing to the cause of democracy and self-determination in Turkey? More pie in the sky thinking from Armenians….

    • Tlkatintsi,

      There are estimated over one million hidden Armenians in Eastern Turkey who present themselve as Kurds. You may not know them since many of them chose to remain discrete for safety reasons. They must be struggling alongside with Kurds, since they are treated the same way as Kurds are. Armenians are doing their best to help your struggle everywhere in the world. Just because you are not informed it does not mean such efforts do not exist. We are only 10 million world wide we cannot do wonders for you or for us in a short period of time. Last, but not least, what do you expect from a genocide torn nation to do in fascistic Turkey? Get killed like Hrant Dink? We know Turks are good at killing. Over 75% of Armenians were exterminated by Turks. If you are a Kurd, I would advise you to appologize for your grandparents’ generation participation in the Armenian genocide like so many honorable Kurds have done.

  8. Stella,…..First of all, Tlkatintsi was the pen name of the 19th century Armenian writer Hovhannes Haroutunian from the Kharpert region. So, I am not a Kurd as you suggest. Have you ever been to the eastern regions of Turkey? I can only assume that you haven’t but please correct me if I am wrong. “One million hidden Armenians in Turkey?” You are too optimistic in this estimation. Travel to the towns and villages of eastern Turkey (western Armenia) as I have. You will find some who are AWARE that they have Armenian roots, but these number in the thousands at best. Aside from the Hamshens of Hopa, who speak their own Armenian dialect, the rest neither speak the language or know about Armenian history. Nevertheless, in my comment I was referring to Armenians in the DIASPORA, people like you. The only way Armenians will ever return to the historic homeland is to follow the lead of Monte Melkonian and fight for those usurped rights Armenians constantly lament about. No one will grant them out of the kindness of their hearts. To believe otherwise is foolhardy and self-deception. Again, what are the Armenians in the West doing today in terms of dialog with those now living in western Armenia? NOTHING!!! Why would Kurds or Zazas sit down with Armenians to discuss their past histories and present-day concerns? A diaspora that cries for “our lands” better wake up and realize the realities of the current day. Despite what certain Kurdish tribes may have down to Armenians in the past, the Kurdish struggle for self-determination continues. Armenians should be doing much more to find their place in that overall movement if they ever wish to “return” to the Armenian Highlands. Then again, I suspect that their cries of “our lands” are little more than patriotic bluffs designed to provide a modicum of self-satisfaction and nothing more!!!

    • Tlkatintsi,

      I am not a Diasporan Armenian, but an Armenian from RoA. All the males in my family served in the Artsakh (NKR) army, exclusively. My uncle fought in NKR war. If you do not mind, may I kindly ask what ethnic group you belong if you are not a Kurd? Are you Armenian?

      It is not my estimation that there are over one million hidden Armenians in Turkey, but some others who have done some research on that. There is a lot of information if you google. I do not know how accurate it is, since I do not think anyone can get the real number of hidden people. That is why it is only an estimation. And, some of them do go back to their Christian roots and learn the Armenian language.

      You are right I have never visited Eastern Turkey or Turkey and I do not think I will ever be able to bring myself to visiting that country. When that region will cease being Turkey, I will gladly visit it.

    • Tlkatintsi,

      Sorry for missing this in my first email, but how one would get to know hidden Armenians by traveling in Eastern Turkey? They may be Armenian, but may not reveal their identify. They are hidden.
      I can believe that number because many Kurds used to have or still have over 10 children in that region so do hidden Armenians I assume. I remember watching a video prepared by GALA (Armenian TV channel) in Eastern Turkey. They met an Armenian from Armenia by chance and were surprised to see him there. During the Armenian genocide when children of one Armenian family fled to Armenia they left their brother behind in Turkey. Years later his sons or grandsons went to Armenia to find their lost relatives, but could not find them because they spoke Kurdish and locals could not understand them. They left their phone number. The long story short, one of their relatives in Armenia learned about it, contacted them and visited them. Then the GALA’s journalists were invited to their house. They spoke only Kurdish, but were saying they were Armenian. They said that all the sisters and brothers who survived and lived in Armenia combined did not have as many children and grandchildren as that one brother that stayed in Turkey.

  9. avatar john the turk // November 30, 2012 at 11:55 am // Reply

    I was going to say the same things but I thought Sella needs to satisfy her own ego . She could even claim that I was lying so I decided to keep quite . By the way, Mr Astarjian claimed that the population of hemshen Armenians are about 700K unaware of the fact that the total hemshen ( Armenian) speaking people are not more than a few thousand. Moreover, These people most probably have no Armenian heritage at all as they never feel belong to the Armenian ethnic groups .I assume they are as Armenians as the Armenians in Cilia whose mother tongues are Turkish. The Armenians who only know Turkish left the region in Cilicia.The hemshen Armenians(?) who stayed in their homeland . Does that tell you anything?

    • “Does that tell you anything?”

      someone who claims there was no Armenian Genocide, as you do, is deliberately ignorant of anything having to do with Armenians.

      Turks and their sycophants who deny the AG are irrational.

      Therefore you cannot possibly know anything about Armenians in occupied Western Armenia, or Cilicia, or anywhere else.

      That is what it tells me: aren’t you glad you asked, John the Turk ?

    • John the Turk,

      Due to number of hate-containing, disrespectful and no substance baring comments posted by you, I will not address the points you have brought up above or reply any of your posts in the future. Sorry about that.

  10. WR, Sella and Tlkatintsi
    Over the numbers of Hamshen Armenians and the “hidden” Armenians in Turkey not much can be said at this time with certainty because credible statistics are lacking. It is however a fact that they are increasingly makking their voice heared. In the sphere of ethnic-cultural rights they have the same or similar demands as the Kurds. But, the Kurds have also radical social-economic demands which stem from the social class to which they belong. The majority of the Kurdish population consist of workers and peasants. So their demands and methods of struggle would invariably differ, especially from the Armenians in the West. We know that most of Armenians in the West, if not all, are more or less economically well-off and prospering. So, although sympathizing with the Kurds and their struggle, they have little economic incentive “to go back to Turkey”! and join hands with the Kurds in a violent struggle with a fascist regime.
    Yes, I also believe that cries for “our lands” are mostly patriotic wishes with no real possibility of being realized any time in the foreseable future. Even if there may be individual Armenians or even groups who may fight along with the Kurds, untill such time that there is no or little Armenian presence in Turkey (or Kuridstan) they cannot achieve much.
    That’s why I believe that Tigrakakert/Dyarbakir can be a good starting point to strengthen the Armenian presence in Turkey. The courages Kurdish authorities of the city by inviting Armenians to “return to their own homes” are in fact challenging decades of Turkish anit-Armenian policy. How this Kurdish-Armenian rapprochment will futher develop in future no one can tell, but this is an opportunity which I believe Armenians should not miss.

  11. Arshag, I agree with you about Diyarbekir and how it can serve as a magnet for a return of Armenians to the homeland. I was there last year at the reopening of the renovated St. Kirakos Church. There were a few Armenians from France who raised this issue. Most of the other Armenians, even many from Istanbul, thought they were crazy. This is the overriding mentality and that’s why i say that Armenians are not sincere about “the lands”. There were even a handful of converted Armenians from the Moush/Sasoun region who had made the trip. When it comes to recognizing their Armenian roots, these regions are the strongest. Armenians can find all types of excuses, some quite valid, for not trusting the “kurds”, but what are the alternatives? You claim that most Armenians in the West do not have an economic incentive to return to western Armenia. Quite true, But the same excuse can be made for not relocating to the Republic of Armenia. So what is the incentive other than returning to the historic homeland we were forcibly exiled from?

  12. Stella, when I state that Tlkatintsi is the name of an ARMENIAN writer from Kharpert, why would you still question my Armenian identity? As to the number of “hidden” Armenians in Turkey, the term “hidden” implies they are CONCEALING their identity. For the most part, Armenians who were forcibly converted during and after the Genocide no longer consider themselves Armenian. Many in fact have become the most vociferous Turkish nationalists and fanatic Muslims. Just look at the Bash Hamshens! As to your comment that you would never visit Turkey, well that’s your prerogative. As an Armenian who traces his lineage to western Armenia, I have felt the need to do so, regardless of present political realities. 2/3 rds of historic Armenia now lies within Turkey. 100 years ago 2/3rds of historic Armenia was incorporated into Ottoman Turkey. Ok. So what your point? Should we all wait for the miraculous liberation of those lands before going back, even for a visit? That’s a very short-sighted approach if you ask me.

    • Tlkatintsi,

      The reason why I questioned your Armenian identity was because from your posts I felt that you were an outsider actively criticizing Diasoran Armenians in the West. I wonder where you come from? I am sorry if you felt offended. As I stated before we have very limited resources and can do only as much. Many Armenians have moved on with their lives and do not care much anymore. Those who care are not enough to realize huge projects.

      ”For the most part, Armenians who were forcibly converted during and after the Genocide no longer consider themselves Armenian. Many in fact have become the most vociferous Turkish nationalists and fanatic Muslims. Just look at the Bash Hamshens.”

      I believe you are mixing two distinct group of people together. Armenians who were converted during or after genocide have a history of being Muslims or Turks less than 100 years. The memory of being an Armenian is still fresh that is why many of them come back to their Christian Armenian roots. Hamshen people have been converted long time ago some of them do not know anything about their roots. As, far as I know Hamshen people from Hopa kept their language and did not assimilate as much as Hamshens from Rize. Watch this video from 6:50-8:40.

      With regard visiting Turkey I am glad you did it. I have several reasons not to do so. Firstly, 99% of Armenian heritage has been destroyed by Turks in Western Armenia. Knowing that, I think it would be too painful for me to see that barbarism. For the same reason if I have a chance I will never visit Nakhijevan to see the barbarism of Axeri. Secondly, I will never contribute to Turkish economy. If you consider it a short sided approach, so be it.

  13. It’s actually more painful for me to see Armenians in the West and the diaspora in general slowly melting away…

    • Blame the Turks. Uprooted nations will always face assimilation.

      You had or have a chance to keep your heritage and pass it down to your children. We can only be in control of own own life; we cannot control other Armenians’ life.

  14. Those who do not struggle will always assimilate. It’s nice to preserve one’s “heritage” far away from the homeland but, in the end, it’s a lost cause.

  15. Tlkatintsi
    Backt to your story about your presence at the reopening of St. Giragos church in Diarbakir last year and about the standpoints of Armenians from France and Istanbul.
    I understand very well why Istanbul Armenians would not concern themselves with “our lands” issue. That way, they wii be putting their existence further in danger in Turkey. But could you explain why they found the idea of strengthening Armenian presence in Kurdistan was “crazy”?

  16. @Arshag,
    I don’t believe it was a security issue with most of the Istanbul-Armenians I met there, but more of a cultural orientation complex. They are quite comfortable in their Istanbul environment and would not contemplate relocating to Diyarbakir or anywhere else for that matter in southeastern Turkey. I noticed a somewhat condescending attitude towards the “rural” residents of Diyarbakir; i.e. the Kurds. I would label these individuals the “cosmopolitanized” Armenians of the middle class who perceive themselves more culturally aligned with the life of Istanbul than the provinces. There were some Istanbul-Armenians originally from the Diyarbakir region who had moved away for work or other reasons. They were more open-minded about re-establishing an Armenian presence in Diyarbakir.

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