Turkish Racism

The exterior walls of the Bomonti Mkhitarian Armenian School of Istanbul were vandalized with anti-Armenian graffiti in 2016. “One night, we suddenly will be in Karabagh,” read the graffiti in Turkish. (Photo: Agos)

In case the ongoing, periodic massacres of Armenians in and/or by the Ottoman Empire and its willing and eager collaborators weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the 1905 massacres of Armenians by “Tatars” (which were reciprocated)—as Azerbaijanis were referred to back then—weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the Armenian Genocide wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the simultaneous genocide of Assyrians and Greeks wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the 1918 Baku massacres by locals and Enver Pasha’s “Army of Islam” weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the 1920 sacking of Shushi, a vibrant Armenian cultural center, and its accompanying massacres weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the 1937 massacres of Alevi Kurds, (or the Zazas, a term that no longer seems to be in use) weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the depopulation/expulsion of Armenians from Nakhichevan during the Soviet era by Azerbaijani authorities wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case discriminatory practices in Azerbaijani controlled Artsakh during the Soviet era wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the discriminatory Varlik Vergisi (a tax invented by Ankara in 1942 to impoverish and drive out Armenians, Greeks, and Jews) wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the 1955 (premeditated and “fake-news” instigated) pogroms of Greeks (with some spillover on to Armenians) in Constantinople weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the mutilation of Greeks during Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the Feb. 1989 and later pogroms in Baku, Cantsag/Gandsak (Ganja as Turkified), Sumgait, and elsewhere weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

Then let’s look to this century for… More of the same!

How about Victor Bedoian’s septennial sojourn in Van as he tried to open “Hotel Vartan” and was blocked at every turn from the vali (governor) who boasted that no Armenian would start a business in Van on his watch to the Turkish Supreme court that shut down his final appeal?

How about Hrant Dink’s 2007 murder?

How about Turkey’s sealing of its border with Syria at Kobane/Kobani, blocking assistance and escape for the Kurds of that area in their life-and-death struggle against Daesh/ISIS?

How about the mutilation of civilians and beheadings by Azerbaijan’s forces during the 2016 April War??

How about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan feigning outrage at being called an Armenian (which is a really bad slur in Turkey, it turns out)?

How about the hatred spewed against Jews from all corners of Turkey’s polity?

How about the episodic appearance of hate graffiti on Armenian institutions in Turkey?

How about the ongoing desecration of Armenian cemeteries and churches in Turkey?

How about the recent video from Azerbaijan with children expressing their hatred of Armenians?

How about the comment that “Raping Kurdish women is a moral obligation. No one should abstain,” by a leader of a Turkish group in Holland?

How about the Estonian citizen who was Armenian being denied entry into Azerbaijan, just days ago, because of her ancestry, despite having travelled to Baku with a properly issued visa?

It’s not only unfortunate, but utterly tragic, that current Turkish identity (including Azerbaijan, less its persecuted minority populations: the Avars, Jews, Lesghis, Tats, Talysh) is unimaginable without this all-encompassing racism, The only glimmer of light in that darkness is the small portion of the population which constitutes civil society and its efforts to defend human rights, in the broadest sense of the term.

This reality must permeate the halls of (at least) Western governments so their foreign policy for Azerbaijan and Turkey is more rational and effective. The above can serve as talking points during any encounter with our elected representatives. Use them.

And just in case anyone you’re speaking with has doubt as to whether there exists a significant difference between Ankara’s and Baku’s ethos, ideals, and morals, here’s a joke to help convey this reality:

“What’s the difference between an Azeri and a Turk?”



Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.

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  1. Well my friend Turks and Azerbaijanis may be racists (Show me any one race that does not have any racists?) but by concentrating so much in the past and not thinking the future, I have witnessed fist hand that Armenians are raising multiple generation of racists.Do you think it has helped?

    • Problem is that even if we forget the past, we cannot escape the animosity manifested between these two nations. If we focus on the present, we can easily witness the continuous denial of the genocide, the zero reparations for the survivors and for their descendants, the cowardly murders of Gurgen Margaryan and Sevan Balikci, both happened in the 21st century (the present). These facts should not encourage racism against Azeris or Turks but they put a strain on any development of relations.
      By stating that “Armenians are raising multiple generations of racists”, you’re no better than the racist because you seriously generalized a whole population. More than half of the Armenians that I know have went to Turkey for leisure, drinking cocktail on the shores of the Turkish Riviera. It seems that you have seen the fascistic side of Armenians which is normal if you crawl through the Internet where there is a disproportionate representation of ultra-nationalists. Armenians and Turks might not get along on national level, but many of them enjoy warm relationships on individual level.

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