Hidden Armenians of Turkey Seek to Reclaim Their Erased Identities

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tags: Turkey, Armenians

For the first 25 years of his life, Armen Demirjian thought he was Kurdish. Then the elders in his village told him his family’s secret: His grandfather was Armenian, a survivor of the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Turks a century ago.

“I was completely confused,” said Mr. Demirjian, who is now 54. “I was very sad as well. I was raised with the Kurdish culture and history.”

Mr. Demirjian, whose grandfather was sheltered by a Kurdish family as a child, held on to his secret. In recent years, though, as Turkey has allowed minorities to identify themselves more freely, he embraced in full his family’s truth. He changed his name to his family’s Armenian one, participated in the restoration of a church in this city, took Armenian language lessons and started delivering Agos, an Armenian newspaper published in Istanbul, to others in this area with a similar past. When his cellphone rings, it blares a song by the Armenian-Syrian singer and songwriter Lena Chamamyan.

Read entire article at NYT

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