Tekir: Armenian Ghosts Are Demanding Justice in Turkey

The following text was adapted from a speech delivered by Nor Zartonk spokesperson Sayat Tekir at the Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA-ER) Banquet on Nov. 14, upon accepting the ANCA-ER Activism Award on behalf of Nor Zartonk. 

Tekir accepting the ANCA-ER Activism Award on behalf of the Nor Zartonk Movement

I am honored and delighted to accept this Activism Award in the name of Nor Zartonk, a movement that aims to always stay young and daring both in spirit and in heart. We commemorate our fellow comrades whom we have lost to state violence—we know their struggle has enlightened our path.

Hrant Dink once said, “Leaving a ‘boiling hell’ to run to a ‘heaven’ is not for me. I wanted to turn this hell into heaven. We stayed in Turkey because that was what we wanted—and out of respect for the thousands of people here who supported me in my fight for democracy…”

Maybe everything started with those words. When they murdered Hrant Dink in front of Agos on Jan. 19, 2007, it appeared to be the best time to leave this region. All that we heard from our elders or all that we had read regarding the black days of 1915, Thrace in 1934, Dersim in 1938, Istanbul on Sept. 6-7, 1955, the exile in 1964, the cold of Ashkale, and the fire in Madimak’s, became alive again. Those stories flashed before our eyes, and our collective memory, which we had buried deep inside, came to the fore.

The state has succeeded in establishing new reasons to alienate the “other” in almost every generation. Hrant Dink was in our time. Was it easier to leave or to stay? We never blamed the ones who left because they would face new struggles. The ones who stayed—us—we had to try hard to transform the hell into a heaven.

We came together and formed Nor Zartonk in order to achieve this goal. We worked to have a collective mindset and working processes. We defended our collective struggle for a free, borderless, exploitation-free, and classless world. We tried hard to enhance and give a voice to our demand for equality, liberty, and justice, aiming to speak not only for the Armenians in Turkey but for the people at large.

‘Today, a ghost is present in Turkey, circling around murderers, standing up against them, and making them shiver. Today, Armenian ghosts are all around them in Turkey. Every day, more Turks wonder and research what has happened. They protest the denial, commemorate the victims, and demand.’

We were aware of the fact that our problems did not differ from those faced by other minorities in Turkey, and we always worked in solidarity with all the oppressed groups. We built up a front to struggle for the rights of women, LGBTQ people, and animals—all those oppressed.

We continued our politics and policies without detaching ourselves from the streets. Our slogan was, “Street, Resistance, Freedom.” We remembered 1968 and searched for the beach under the cobble stones of Gezi Park. We said, “You took our graveyard, but you won’t be able to take our park.” We resisted with our fellow comrades. We resisted and did not let them take our park. Later, we said, “We didn’t give you our park; we won’t give you our Camp Armen!” We resisted with others from all around Turkey. Like the 99 percent say, we resist to survive.

We should not forget Goethe’s word no matter where we live: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

In Zucotti or Gezi Park, Stigmata or Tahrir Square, Chipas or Rojova, Electric Yerevan or the “You Stink” campaign in Beirut, all hail those who have resisted and have demanded equality, liberty, and justice. Their struggles inspire us and contribute to ours.

All our protests, supportive messages, meetings, public declarations, and monitoring of court cases—as Nor Zartonk, we have done these things for over 11 years so that we can live in equality and peace within Turkey’s borders. We have followed dozens of court cases in a country where injustice is normalized and courthouses have become theaters.

Like Subcomandante Marcos and Insurgente Moisés [leaders of the Zapatista movement] said, “Truth and justice will never, ever come from above. We will have to construct them from below.”

As Nor Zartonk, we also aim for the same because now, like Jean Jaures said, we have reached a time when humanity can no longer live with the corpse of a murdered people in its cellar.

Yes, a genocide happened in 1915. We, however, don’t want to continue the discourse of “They killed, broke, and annihilated us.” Yes, they massacred us with a ruthless operation, but they did not annihilate us. They will not be able to. We stand against the murderers, look into their eyes and repeat: We are here! We will always be here! We are not finished!

Today, a ghost is present in Turkey, circling around murderers, standing up against them, and making them shiver. Today, Armenian ghosts are all around them in Turkey. Every day, more Turks wonder and research what has happened. They protest the denial, commemorate the victims, and demand. There’s a ghost wandering and demanding justice in Turkey.

What we saw at Camp Armen is solidarity between peoples. Kurdish and Turkish activists stood side by side with Armenians to defend this assault on the Armenian identity and to struggle for justice. This experience can teach us much about what is possible in Turkey.

I would like to conclude with Nazim Hikmet’s precious verse:

To live! Like a tree alone and free
Like a forest in brotherhood
This yearning is ours.

Long live the solidarity of peoples! This is just the beginning. The struggle continues.

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Tekir: Armenian Ghosts Are Demanding Justice in Turkey

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