Growing up, the word “hate” was strictly banned by my parents. The word was rarely used unless I was feeling rebellious. I would use it when I didn’t get my way, when I didn’t understand my math homework, and it would come out especially when my grandmother would tell me about all that her mother had gone through in 1915. I admit it. I used to say, “I hate Turkey.” And I would think to myself, “How could anyone not?” I’m older now and, I’d like to think, more mature. I know now that I have no reason to hate Turkey. I have no reason to hate the people, nor the country. After all, part of you is mine. Van, Ani, Mush, Kars, Kharpert, Diyarbakir—would you like me to go on? But this is not your fault. This is not your doing. This dates back to 100 years ago.
I am writing this letter to let you know that I am done hating. I suggest you end your hatred as well. Hate never gets you anywhere, I learned this from my parents’ banning of the word. The Armenian Genocide happened. There is no way we will ever forget that. For nearly 100 years we have been commemorating the Armenian Genocide on April 24, so I assure you, President Erdogan, we did not “fix” any events commemorating our ancestors to coincide with the Gallipoli ceremonies. Although somehow every year you manage to completely and deliberately ignore it, we know that you are aware that April 24 is the day that the Armenian Genocide is commemorated all over the world. I’m sure you know that if you make the right decision and “fix” your ancestors’ mistakes, then we can work our issues out. We can absolutely be civil.
I don’t live on my ancestral lands because my great-grandmother was driven out. And I’ll blame you for taking her and the rest of my ancestors out until the day I die. But I can’t blame you for wanting my country, as it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. I can also thank you for making my nation the strongest people I’ll ever know.