One Hundred Years of Abandonment

by Azad Alik

By Ayda Erbal and Talin Suciyan

The Armenian Weekly
April 2011 Magazine

The history of the Ottoman Armenians in the 19th century[1] is a history of great promises but also of greater abandonment. More than 200 Ottoman-Armenian intellectuals who were arrested the night of April 24, 1915 and the two weeks that followed possessed the damning knowledge that they were left alone. Zohrab’s Unionist friends, with whom he had dined and played cards, would choose not to stop his assassination. But abandonment will not abandon the Armenians. The survivors in the camps of Mesopotamia were alone, as were those hiding in the secluded mountains or villages of Anatolia. And those who survived through conversion or forced concubinage were left alone not only in the summer of 1915, but also in the hundred years that have followed.

turkey 300x211 Erbal and Suciyan: One Hundred Years of AbandonmentThe surviving Istanbul-Armenians who staged a book-burning ceremony were on their own
too.[2] Compelled to imitate the Nazi party’s book-burning campaigns, they would gather in the backyard of Pangalti Armenian Church, build a book-burning altar, put Franz Werfel’sThe Forty Days of Musa Dagh, along with his picture on the altar, and burn it to the ground. As a last act of symbolic perversion forced upon them, they would not only denounce the author, but also denounce the book’s content, hence denouncing themselves and denying their own history.Hayganus Mark, Hagop Mintzuri, Aram Pehlivanyan, Zaven Biberyan, Vartan and Jak Ihmalyan, and the less famous all shared a similar fate, which happened to be that of Hrant Dink too: abandonment.[3]
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