Prominent Pro-Erdogan Armenian in Istanbul Engages in Pro-Turkish Propaganda

Despite the many violations of Armenian cultural and religious rights in Turkey, there are some Armenians in Istanbul who praise the Turkish regime and particularly its fascist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

These few pro-Erdogan Armenians, who enjoy special privileges and access to high-ranking Turkish officials, represent themselves as protectors of the local Armenian community’s interests. But in reality, they have selfish motives. They either have personal business interests with corrupt Turkish leaders or seek to maintain their undeserved positions in Armenian community institutions. One such individual is Bedros Sirinoglu, Chairman of the Board of Sourp Prgich Armenian Hospital in Istanbul.

Bedros Sirinoglu

In a recent interview with journalist Pinar Isik Ardor of Forum USA, a Turkish-American newspaper, Sirinoglu made several false statements about the Armenian community in Turkey and distorted the facts of the Armenian Genocide.

Sirinoglu’s words were “shocking,” according to Istanbul’s Nor Marmara Armenian newspaper. Sirinoglu told Forum USA that Armenians have never lived as comfortably as they have been during Erdogan’s leadership, and made untrue statements about the Armenian Genocide, stating that “the events of 1915 were organized by outside powers intending to dismantle and overthrow the Ottoman Empire.”

Sirinoglu continued: “Before Erdogan’s time, we could not even paint or repair our churches. We could only do it when the state pretended not to notice such actions.” He repeatedly claimed he has done good deeds for the Armenian community in Turkey.

Several years ago, he said he had requested a meeting with Erdogan which was immediately granted. He asked Erdogan to permit the placement of a cross on the dome of the Holy Cross Armenian Church in Akhtamar. He reportedly told Erdogan: “Just as you cannot have a mosque without a minaret, similarly you cannot have a church without a cross.” Sirinoglu claimed that “Erdogan had the cross placed overnight on the Akhtamar church.” If Sirinoglu was so influential, why didn’t he ask Erdogan to restore the status of the Akhtamar as a Armenian church instead of designating it a “museum,” allowing religious services to be performed only once a year?

Sirinoglu also ignored the fact that he had not been the only one to make such a request; Armenians and others worldwide, including the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, had also demanded the placement of the cross on the dome of the church.

Calling them “fictional scenarios,” Sirinoglu contradicted the various Western reports that Armenian religious rights are restricted in Turkey. The 67-year-old told the Turkish newspaper: “Since my childhood days, Armenians have not had any problems.”

When the Turkish journalist reminded Sirinoglu that some Armenians are not pleased with his words, he responded: “If you don’t speak as they wish, they become hostile. I stand by the state. I do not betray my own country. I am an Armenian, but I am a Turkish compatriot. Our faith orders us to be faithful to the state. Our Bible preaches likewise.”

Sirinoglu’s most controversial remarks pertain to his misinterpretation of the Armenian Genocide. He stated that “he approaches with suspicion the [Armenian victims’] numbers used regarding 1915.” He added that “Armenians, Jews and Greeks were wealthy in that period, which is why there was enmity against them. Now the Armenian population is gradually decreasing. The birth rate is low. The death rate is high. There are also mixed marriages.”

When the Turkish journalist asked Sirinoglu if the Armenians, Greeks and Jews share the same point of view, Sirinolglu answered affirmatively and added: “We only disagree about the events of 1915. Greek Patriarch Bartholomew has a reserved and principled position, also regarding the government. The Jews also like the state, but they are also men of principle. They do not abandon their principles. The Jews living here do not betray Turkey, but they are tied to Israel.”

Finally, Sirinoglu responded to a question regarding the recent decrease in the value of the Turkish Lira. Repeating the same answer given by Erdogan, Sirinoglu blamed foreign powers for orchestrating “this game against the Turkish economy.”

This is not the first time that Sirinoglu has made such false statements on the Armenian Genocide. For example, after meeting with then Prime Minister Erdogan in 2010, he told the Turkish media that “1915 was nothing more than a feud between loving friends, instigated by third parties.” He went on to say that his “grandfather was among the victims, but so were many Turks.”

Back in 2010, Armenians in Istanbul launched a petition announcing that Sirinoglu is not their leader and does not represent the Armenian community. Angered by Sirinoglu’s statements, the petitioners stressed: “We live in a different Turkey,” not the Turkey described by Sirinoglu.

avatar

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the United Armenian Fund, a coalition of the seven largest Armenian-American organizations. He has been decorated by the president and prime minister of the Republic of Armenia, and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

20 Comments

  1. Hello Harut Sassounian, I completely agree with you that this person has personal gain towards talking highly about the Turkish government, and he is completely delusional about his statements. But being from America, one thing I do agree with him is the high marriages to non-Armenians, which I find it a big problem. I want to get your opinion on this matter, as it is being more acceptable to marry non-Armneians.

  2. Not totally unusual. There are those who hide themselves under Armenian first or last name, but they could be Turks, Jews, or other than Armenian. Whatever or whoever he is, he is part and parcel of those lobbying against the Armenian Genocide for personal gains. If however he was born to Armenian grandparent Genocide survivors, he has sold his soul.

  3. So I agree w Harut Sassounian.
    Thank you for reporting this Armenian that stans for anything but Armenia, Armenians, and the truth of more than 1.5 mlion Armenians killed by gruesome methods, and driven to Syria and Iraqi deserts.
    I just can’t put myself in his shoes to know and learn the reason why he is doing it other than personal gains.
    S
    As to the placement of Cross atop the Akhtamar Church, I don’t think that is such a big deal. And now that should be taken as something such a singular event of not much importance,(though the Cross is Important and placing it on top of the Church.

    • If that cross issue was not such a “big deal” why did so many Armenians make such a big deal of it at the time? About all the other aspects of the “restoration” they cared nothing – they didn’t write a single word. They cared not that much of the church’s historical fabric was being destroyed in a “restoration” undertaken entirely for political propaganda reasons. They cared not that their decades of lies about Aghtamar’s imminent collapse, together with their inability to come up with credible solutions regarding Armenian monuments in Turkey, had set the church up for that fake restoration, set Aghtamar up to be exploited by Turkey, set it up so that Turkey could claim that all the complaints by Armenians was being solved by Erdogan’s Turkey.

  4. Yes I agree that there are high marriages to non-Armenians and it is a problem.
    My approach to start to solve the problem will be:
    Armenian parents should convince their children that marriages Armenian with Armenian will result at least having one problem lesser in their lifetime.

    • Hey Alberto, I understand that, but parents are starting to believe it’s okay to marry non-armenians also, and once this generation get older, I’m afraid they will have a complete acceptance towards it. Once again, this is very important in my opinion, as it loses the ability for the kid to grow in a cultural and traditional home.

  5. He has a right to have an opinion, but he does not have the right to speak as an Armenian. This man’s priorities send mixed messages. Nothing is wrong if he accepts that he is a Turk. In that case he would not have to be insincere.

    We do not need that kind of Armenian. I feel sorry for his grandfather.

  6. I don’t think he is “sold” for his interests. Do you really understand the horrible situation in Turkey? Mr. Sassounian, its easy to critize him from the reach of Erdogan. Do you understand why Pastor Brunson is prisoned?

    And also “he says he will never betray his country—Turkey.”
    There is nothing wrong with this. Will you betray US if Russia convinces you that California belongs to Kardashians?

  7. This is not the first and won’t be the last, apparently we have not learned the politics of using necessary evils, this man is demonstrating that qualities, Jews would use a soft approach and take advantage of the occasion for their plans.
    We have to learn having plans, that is the main issue here.

  8. I read Nor Marmara on a daily basis and what I read in Armenian on 22 September 2018 in the Turkish Armenian daily is not what Mr Sassounian writes in English above.To put it politely,it is a clear case of ‘lost in translation’.

  9. You guys are just pissed because he contradicts your propaganda. He can go live in a boring land-locked country or Istanbul. He’s being practical & heritage is overrated anyway. Kudos to this guy for being a rational adult and not a nationalistic pinhead. I think next time Im in Istanbul Ill buy him lahmajun out of appreciation and respect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*