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Turkey: Genocide Memorials

While there is no single designated mass grave of Armenians in the Republic of Turkey, there are dozens of monuments, streets, and even schools honoring the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide.

Some time ago I reflected on the fate of genocide-honoring monuments in Turkey in the aftermath of a possible Turkish recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Now, a long but interesting article in Londoon Review of Books – brought to my attention by fellow blogger Raffi Kojian – details some genocide memorials in Turkey.


Finally, there is the Armenian genocide, its authors honoured in streets and schools across the country, whose names celebrate the murderers. Talat: a boulevard in Ankara, four avenues in Istanbul, a highway in Edirne, three municipal districts, four primary schools. Enver: three avenues in Istanbul, two in Izmir, three in occupied Cyprus, primary schools in Izmir, Mugla, Elazig. Cemal Azmi, responsible for the deaths of thousands in Trabzon: a primary school in that city. Resit Bey, the butcher of Diyarbekir: a boulevard in Ankara. Mehmet Kemal, hanged for his atrocities: thoroughfares in Istanbul and Izmir, statues in Adana and Izmir, National Hero Memorial gravestone in Istanbul. As if in Germany squares, streets and kindergarten were called after Himmler, Heydrich, Eichmann, without anyone raising an eyebrow. Books extolling Talat, Enver and Sakir roll off the presses, in greater numbers than ever. Nor is all this merely a legacy of a Kemalist past. The Islamists have continued the same tradition into the present. If Talat’s catafalque was borne by armoured train from the Third Reich for burial with full honours by Inönü in 1943, it was Demirel who brought Enver’s remains back from Tajikistan in 1996, and reburied them in person at a state ceremony in Istanbul. Beside him, as the cask was lowered into the ground, stood the West’s favourite Muslim moderate: Abdullah Gul, now AKP president of Turkey.


The rest of the article is an interesting read.

Turkey: Name Change

After repeated silence from municipal officials regarding a name change, a civil society group in Istanbul, Turkey has itself replaced the sign of a local street from that of a mythical toponym – used by a terrorist group – to the name of an Armenian journalist murdered three years ago this month by a ultra-nationalist youth.

The teenager who shot Hrant Dink – the editor of Agos newspaper and a promoter of reconciliation between Turks and Armenians – was allegedly recruited by Ergenekon, an elite military group which has failed its goal of toppling Turkey’s Islamic but moderate administration. Ergenekon, which is named after a mythical place and is revered by Turkish ultra-nationalists, supposedly had planned to kill other Armenians as well (prominent representatives of the handful of indigenous Christians who once numbered 20% of what is today’s Turkey).

Originally reported in Turkish by Bianet, the news is quite  interesting: in a nationalist country like Turkey (even in relatively liberal Istanbul), such action can be dangerous (no official or nationalist reactions have been reported so far). But it is also inspiring, and giving hope that maybe, just maybe, progressive Turks – and hopefully Turkey as a society – will one day rename streets honoring the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide as well.

In Istanbul alone, there are four avenues celebrating the main architect of the genocide – Talaat.