The Road from Diyarbakir: A Call to Deepen Kurdish Commitment to Genocide Justice

The poster of the conference

BERLIN, Germany (A.W.)—On May 10, a conference on “The 1915 Genocide: Collective Responsibility and Roles; Kurdish, Armenian, Assyrian Relations” was held in Berlin. It brought together two generations of Kurdish intellectuals to discuss inter-communal relations before and after the genocide and the responsibilities of Kurds in the process and conciliation and making amends.

Armenian Weekly Editor Khatchig Mouradian delivered the following speech, in Turkish, calling on Kurdish opinion-makers and politicians to expand and deepen their role in bringing justice to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

For the Turkish version of the speech, click here.


I pass through Diyarbakir on all my trips to Turkey.

In January 2013, I was scheduled to speak at a conference in Ankara dedicated to Hrant Dink, and once again I decided to first make a stop in Diyarbakir.

It was Jan. 17 when I landed in Diyarbakir. Some of you here will remember that day. Hundreds of thousands had gathered for the funeral of activist Sakine Cansiz and her comrades.

As I stood in the crowd listening to the speeches, my mind wandered from Dersim to Diyarbakir to Ankara…

Two days later, in Ankara, I delivered my first speech in Turkish.

I started like this:

How did Turkish come to me?

I did not learn it to add one more foreign language to my CV.

Turkish came to me the day I was born. I had not asked for it, yet I could not reject it, either.

It came to me in the voice of my grandmother.

For you, Turkish is the mother tongue. For me it’s my grandmother’s language.

My grandparents survived the genocide and ended up in Lebanon with practically nothing. They rebuilt their lives from scratch, and gave my parents the gift of life.

And when I was born, they gave me one of the few things they were, in fact, able to bring with them from Kilikia: the Turkish language.

For you, Turkish is the language of parental love.

For me, it is the burden of death and dispossession.

My Turkish has memories of death and dispossession from Adana, Kilis, Konya Eregli, and Hasanbeyli. The villages and towns of my grandparents.

And today, for the first time, I speak that language from a podium.

Today, for the first time, I return that gift of death and dispossession to the lands it came from…

At the end of the speech, I said:

But asking others to open their eyes and acknowledge the suffering of Armenians can never be enough.

What is necessary is justice.

So today, I return the language of death and dispossession to you.

And instead, in the name of my grandparents, Khachadour and Meline Mouradian, Ardashes and Aghavni Gharibian, I demand a language of justice.

Today, as we discuss “The 1915 Genocide: Collective Responsibility and Roles,” I once again think about the funeral and my speech. And my mind wanders from Dersim to Diyarbakir to Ankara. Because I believe the road to justice passes through Diyarbakir.

A scene from the conference (Photo:
A scene from the conference (Photo:

I can hear the sound of justice, albeit faint, in the ringing of the Sourp Giragos Church bell, in the voices of Islamized Armenians learning the Armenian language, and—sometimes—in the statements of Kurdish leaders.

And that sound must be amplified, so that it reaches Van, Hakkari, Şırnak, Dersim, Batman, Bitlis, and Ağrı.

And eventually Ankara.

Let us not talk about brotherhood and peace. I am tired of the incessant use, misuse, and abuse of these words in Turkey.

Let us not talk about shared dolma, shared pain, an Anatolian diaspora, Turkish passports, lobbies, condolences, and other absurdities.

The road to conciliation passes through justice. There are no shortcuts.

Ankara keeps the border with Armenia shut, but Diyarbakir can open another border: The border with the diaspora.

And that border can only open with justice.

As we approach the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, let our minds, together, wander from Dersim, to Diyarbakir, to Ankara.

Many of you here know that Sakine Cansiz was from Dersim, and that her nom de guerre, Sara, was her Armenian grandmother’s name.

Hundreds of thousands gathered to pay their respect to Sakine Cansiz in January last year. But that respect has not been paid to Sakine’s grandmother, and the million and a half who perished during the genocide.

Mouradian during his speech.
Mouradian during his speech.

That respect has not been paid to my grandparents.

So let hundreds of thousands gather in Diyarbakir on April 24, 2015, to commemorate the genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontic Greeks.

And to make the voice of justice stronger.

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. how can there be justice when all the pertinent records have been destroyed in the Turkish archives
    according to the Turkish media a truck transporting papers flying all over the road and a closer examination by a reporter proved that the archives are being sanitized.

  2. My dad and his brothers escaped the pogrom of 1894-96 and made their way to the USA. They never talked about what happened, but gave me Armenian as my first language. I have for these many years helplessly agonized over the loss of life and a nation in the various pogroms that keep occurring in Turkey. I thank the wisdom of my father for bringing us up in the United States, a safe nation!

  3. The Armenian side of my family came from Dikranagerd. They emigrated to Constantinople, then my grandfather was sent to the US to find work. He ultimately brought over the rest of his family. Our lives would have been very different had this not happened, whether for better or worse, I do not know. I do know, however, that I am grateful for the values my grandfather taught me. Like most immigrants, however, he did not want to teach us Armenian–we were Americans and that was that.

    Unless, however, Turkey takes responsibility for the history of the genocides against various peoples, there will be no reconciliation.

    • @Paulette, this is the first time I hear that most immigrants did not want to teach their children and grandchildren their mother tongue. I would argue the reason why those Armenians who did not get to teach their kids Armenian, the earlier generations of Armenians who escaped the Turkish slaughter and ended up in America in particular, was because they were too busy trying to rebuild their shattered lives and also because they were too preoccupied with their economic survivals.

      One other reason I can think of was because, unlike these days with all the necessary means, back in those days the Armenian communities were scattered all over the United States with no established community centers, schools and such. It is inevitable that under such circumstances some children fall victim to assimilation. Despite all the reasons I mentioned and given their state of minds and the lack of formal educational centers, I still think the best way they could have gotten back at their Turkish murderers would have been to make sure to at least pass onto their children their spoken Armenian. I say this because I strongly believe it is one’s language, therefore one’s culture as a result, that acts as a shield and deterrent against assimilation. What better way for these people to spit at the faces of their racist and blood-thirsty Turkish killers than to revive and grow even stronger!

  4. Bravo Kkatchig, God bless the memory of your patriarchal family and your mission for JUSTICE.
    Thank you.

  5. {“Let us not talk about brotherhood and peace. I am tired of the incessant use, misuse, and abuse of these words in Turkey.

    Let us not talk about shared dolma, shared pain, an Anatolian diaspora, Turkish passports, lobbies, condolences, and other absurdities.”}

    Well said Mr. Mouradian.

    that’s the word for it: Absurdities.

  6. my grandparents escaped from aintab, they spoke turkish with each other and other Armenians that have escaped from the genocide. but they would speak Armenian to their grandchildren, i learned turkish by listening to them and their and friends conversation in turkish. when i meet turks and i speak turkish to them the first thing they ask me is are you a turk! i tell them i am Armenian and that my grandparents escaped from turkey genocide, some would deny it and other’s would just keep grandparents lost a lot of their relatives to the genocide. the day will come turkey will admit to the Armenian genocide.

  7. I too learned Turkish from my grandmother, she was from Kayseri/Gessaria. It was forbidden to speak Armenian, whoever did, their tongue was cut off. This is not a fable, in my research, I found out that kind of harsh and inhuman punishment was vey true…My grandmother suffered and agonized not knowing Armenian and she instructed all her grandkids not to speak that language after her death. “benden sowna bou lisane ghoneshmayin” she said. As a survivor of Genocide, she never forgot those horrific years, she told us the stories and was able to convey along the brutal treatment, the kindness very few Turks showed. It means that truth, justice and humanity can be found even when governments and authorities deny, cover up, destroy and spend millions to distort history, reality, memoirs and archives.

  8. When Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 we found out how “civilized” the Turks are. In other words given the opportunity they would repeat the 1915 genocide all over again, which they did. The Turkish DNA has not changed. Let’s not deceive ourselves. But what is more sickening is that they are being protected by the US and their politicians know they can get away with murder since the United States is their protector for whatever reason. All I know is that the Turks are brutal, uncivilized without a trace of humanity in their little pinky. The 1915 genocide was repeated in Cyprus in 1974 when horror stories were heard throughout the island. I am not going to repeat them here but we can all use our imagination. Also, more than two thousand young Greek Cypriot men disappeared without a trace. To this day no one knows what happened to them. Did we hear about sanctions from the European Union or the USA??? Talk about double standard and pure hypocrisy!!!!

    • First of all, GC’s have no rights to play victim. Because the North Of Cyprus is blockaded. Second of all, Makarios wanted to eradicate TC’s. Third of all, if Turkey did not intervene, there would be no Turkish-speaking Cypriots. Fourth of all, saying all Turks have barbarian DNA is proof of Greek and Armenian racism, prejudice and bigotry.

    • Please explain to us Nickie the events leading up to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. You can start with the Greek military junta overthrowing a democratically elected leader, continue with Nikos Sampson (who declared he would annihilated the Turks in Cyprus had Turkey not intervened), and conclude with how all of this was conducted under the pan-Greek ideology of enosis. Also, if you would, kindly mention that ALL of this preceded the Turkish invasion.

      PS: Another thing: if you would also explain to us the the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee that prohibited Cyprus from entering a political union with any other state (which is exactly what was happening in 1974), and then go on to explain Article IV of that treaty which each guarantor (UK, Turkey, Greece) was given the right for unilateral action to restore normal state affairs- which ceased to exist thanks to Greek intervention in the island.

      Yes, Turkey failed to restore state affairs and is now illegally occupying the island. But let us not forget who started the fight. You Greeks started the fight Nickie; you played with fire and you got burned. End of story. The invasion of Cyprus is in no way, shape, or form comparable to the Armenian genocide. It’s disrespectful to even make that connection.

    • @Nickie, you are absolutely correct. To your list of Turkish traits, such as brutal and uncivilized, I add liars, opportunists, racists, fascists, wolves in sheep’s clothing, dishonorable and two-faced blood-thirsty charlatans among many others.

      I would say there are two major reasons why Turkey is being protected by the Unites States: 1) Turkey is the only Muslim NATO ally the United States can use for her imperialistic adventures in that part of the world in return for acting passive and indifferent in regards to the Armenian Genocide, 2) The United States, in many ways just like the Ottoman Empire and the illegal and fascist republic of Turkey, itself was established through murdering millions of indigenous native Americans, 3) The United States is first and foremost a major corporation primarily concerned about her selfish-interests and run and manipulated by foreign elements within the American government.

      The Europeans are bunch of spineless liberal idiots who are mainly concerned about being politically correct while the Turks and other Muslims erode their cities and communities from within and acting the way they do toward the Armenian Cause because our racial enemies have what they badly need: OIL and other energy resources, and in effect they are not much different their American counterparts.

      Armenia does have friends but I would argue the only TRUE friends Armenians will ever have are the Armenians themselves.

  9. Khachik, You are great. Armenian People need Thousands of Khachik Mouradians to teach History of Armenians to the World. Specially to the present government of Armenia.

  10. Turkey must take responsibility for its crime and pay the price , i’m sick and tired of listening to people who believe that with Turkish kind words all our pain will go away , now way , it doesn’t work like that , that will only help our nation disappear slowly , either Turkey acknowledges the Armenian Genocide or war it is .

  11. I Shall Return Where I Belonged ““Dikranagerd-Tigranakert””
    Your Name Harshly Degraded, Shan’’t Vanish,
    As Our Souls Breathing Soundlessly There!

    Return . . . Dear Armenians return from everywhere
    Return . . . to your real land From Artsakh to Anatolia
    and further west To view dead valleys . . . rivers.
    To Tigranakert where King Tigranes II (Dikran the Great*)
    Implanted his first stone to build a civilized city,
    He turned it green, like Eden’’s place.

    See the invaders change everything including the name
    By smashing every piece of rock carved with it,
    Changing it from Dikranagerd to Diyarbakir;
    Changed King’’s Dikran name to Diyar from word dar
    That means ‘‘homes’’ in stolen languages and . . . why
    The Bakir . . . means a new land . . . newborn!

    Return . . .
    To see your churches, cathedrals destroyed
    Their grounds no longer filled of marbles . . . stones
    Scene . . . full of wild plants . . . dried weeds and smelly sands,
    Bones of killed animals, and insects scattered, dry, breathless.
    No khoran, altars left to pray and call old God.

    Even the Almighty, scornfully lost his faith . . .
    Left those lands for scavengers to breathe in,
    Robbers of stones and of churches to
    Build on seized lands, many ugly shanty homes
    Deprived of basic art . . .

    Nevertheless . . . still, you can see some stones
    Carved on crosses typical of Armenian art, Khatchkar
    In it the Armenian alphabet which can still be read.
    Some rocks are decorated by our ancient animals and planets.

    Your cemeteries are alive only awaiting excavation;
    Let souls of DNA arise and wrestle with slayers and
    Scream to reach the sky . . .
    Narrate what the slayers did
    In that artful, educated, dedicated people’’s fertile lands.

    Recently I saw on TV . . .
    Photos that left me smashed soundless . . .
    That ruins crossed my hidden volcanic flames . . .
    To shout where are the real humans in this life.

    On my grandparents’’ serenade dative terrains . . .
    There were schools, colleges, goldsmiths, music, art . . .
    On every corner, the bells jingled calling saints.

    My grandmother used to say,
    ““Our house was near the cathedral **
    Every Sunday the city was quiet
    Believers attended there to pray!””

    June 27, 2010

    From My Historical Poetry Collection…”My Son-My Sun:Chants Ann,…” June2011

  12. Who can say for sure and honestly that CUP Ittihad We Terakki members who intended, decided, organized, orderred and perpetrated the Armenian Genocide were turks? Or even Moslems.

    • How extremely ridiculous for you to say that the Ottoman Turkish Empire’s “Committee of Union and Progress” members might not have been Turks. It’s just like saying that Hitler’s “Nazi Party” members might not have been Germans.

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