Turkish researcher Ziya Meral has an interesting article in the Turkish Daily News(Nov 12, 2007) calling for “rehumanization” of Armenians by Turks and vice verse.

You are not alone if you have not heard the word ”rehumanization” before. Unlike its twin sister ”dehumanization,” rehumanization is not a popular tool in politics and identity construction.


Rehumanization is restoring the other’s dignity and humanity and attributing the other the same rights ”we” have or demand. Without rehumanization, there can never be reconciliation simply because without accepting each other as human beings and acknowledging the other’s voice, we can never expect that the other will hear our pain and concerns and be moved by it to act unselfishly.

With stereotypes of Armenians and official historical propaganda in Turkey, Ziya says there was “no room left to hear what Armenians were trying to communicate.” 

Then one day, I found myself on a trip to Armenia and Karabakh. Thousands of scenarios went through my mind and none of them was about receiving hospitality. After two weeks, I found myself crying in a church in Karabakh and embracing a new Armenian friend. The same night, I remember crying more around a dinner table dominated by vodka shots and toasts for a better future. I was finally able to see who lives on the other side of Mount Ararat; not a group of conspirators with a mischievous plan, but a group of broken and hopeful people. Since then, ”Armenians” isn’t an abstract category for me. The tension between us have been rehumanized and made flesh and blood.

The author, then, discusses Armenian attitudes that the the Armenian Genocide was committed because Turks are a genocidal race.  But we all know that many Turks saved Armenians during the Genocide.  Yet…

If my memory does not fail me, I do not remember seeing a section in the memorial in Yerevan like the one in Yad Vashem– the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, dedicated to ”righteous among the nations.” The phrase refers to non-Jews who risked their lives for protecting Jews. It is a simple yet profound way of rehumanizing a past conflict by showing the humanity found in both ends of the story. Aren’t there Turks who have risked their lives protecting their neighbours and friends? An Armenian friend once replied to me by saying “only a handful, most of them did so for their own benefits.” In a single stroke, whatever they have done was relativized and stripped off its humanity. Thus, we are back to the black and white narrative of  ”Evil Turks.”


Although I have visited the Genocide memorial many times, I have not been to the actual museum.  I don’t know if there is a section for Turks who saved Armenians, but I highly doubt that there is.

My own great-grandmother was saved and raised for over five years by a Turkish woman in Urfa.  The Turkish woman didn’t do it for her benefit, at least not for benefiting the “Turks,” but benefiting humanity.  I agree with the author that there should be a section in the Genocide museum for those Turks who saved many Armenians.  We shall never forget these brave souls.