An article in the New York Times Magazine mentions of a tourist map in Turkey published in Armenian:


It was Demirbas’s interest in others that led me to seek him out. I had heard from a friend in Istanbul that the mayor of the central neighborhood of Diyarbakir had published a map of the city in Armenian. One hundred fifty years ago, Armenians and other Christians made up about half of Diyarbakir’s population, but as an ethnic Armenian myself, I was astonished that a mayor in a Turkish town had done something to acknowledge this history. Most old Armenian sites in Turkey are either abandoned altogether or labeled with signs and explanations that offer roundabout explanations without ever mentioning that a particular site was Armenian. (Even the much-lauded official renovation of an Armenian church in Van relied on the geographical term “Anatolian.”) In Turkey, the “Armenian question” — whether the massacre of the Ottoman Armenian population during World War I was a state campaign — is at least as taboo as the Kurdish issue.

When Demirbas learned of my ethnic background, he took out a stack of about a hundred tourist brochures describing Diyarbakir, printed in Armenian, and handed them to me. “Please give these to Armenians in the United States,” he said. He also showed me the same brochure in Assyrian, Arabic, Russian and Turkish. “Why is it,” he asked by way of example, “that tourists who visit Topkapi Palace in Istanbul can get an audio listening guide in English, French, Spanish, German or Italian, but when I publish a small tourist brochure in Armenian, as a welcoming gesture to Armenian tourists who want to visit their ancestral home, I am accused of committing a crime?” (The brochures are among the many projects for which Demirbas has been accused of misusing municipal resources.) We spent the rest of the afternoon touring an area that Demirbas calls “the Streets of Culture Project.” Tucked among a cluster of alleyways in his district, several ancient structures remind visitors of the Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Jews and other groups who once populated a neighborhood that is still known locally as the infidel quarter. Demirbas calls it the “Armenian quarter,” at least while talking to me, and has drafted a proposal to undertake a major renovation of the area and its monuments.

“So many civilizations lived in the Sur district over millennia,” he says. “Kurds, Arabs, Armenians, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Nestorians, Jews, Turks, Hanafi, Shafi’i, Alevi, Yezidi, traces of Sabihi” — occasionally he lengthens his list by repeating groups he has already named — “all these different beliefs coexisted in the Sur district of Diyarbakir. The more we lose this multicultural side of ourselves, the more we become one another’s enemies.”

Listening to him, I felt sure that he meant it, but also sure that he knew he was undermining the nationalist foundations of the Turkish Republic. At first, I wondered if he was using Diyarbakir’s other ethnicities to somehow soften the blow of his support of Kurdish cultural rights. But supporting the Armenian issue would hardly win him friends in Turkey, at least not friends with power.