ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)—Melisa Boz is a 25-year-old Armenian in Turkey. What brings her into the media spotlight is the fact that she is doing something no one else has done — until now. Boz presents news in Armenian on SU TV, known by many as an “Alevi channel.”
The young woman, who received threats before the television program began airing, said she gets her courage from the government and the democratic initiative process. “At the time of earlier governments, I would not have dared do something like this. But I trust the government now,” she said.
In her program, Boz presents news not only on Turkey but also news that concerns Armenia and Turkish-Armenians. “If I can contribute to peace between the two countries, I will be very happy,” she says. Boz, who was the interpreter for the Armenian national soccer team at last year’s Turkey-Armenia soccer game in Bursa, said the Armenian players liked Turkey very much.
Police officers responsible for providing security to the team were very kind, Boz said. “The police officers became friends with the players and the delegation and even played backgammon together with them. The police officers acted like a part of the initiative and represented our country very well. I was very proud of my country that day.”
After she was chosen from a pool of applicants to become an anchorwoman, her family started to receive threats, she said. “My family was concerned because their daughter was in the public eye, but I was not afraid at all. If it is brave to go on television, then yes, I am brave. But I would not want to commit an injustice to any of the many older people that have struggled on this road. The Agos daily has been publishing in Armenian for years and we lost an important person, Hrant Dink, on this road. I get my courage from them. I think I finally trust my government,” Boz said.
Boz, whose family is from Sivas, went to Yerevan to attend university after graduating from high school. While there, she majored in English language and literature. The young woman also said she was excluded and made to feel like a foreigner during her five years in Yerevan, noting that she was different in the way she dressed, styled her hair and talked. She explained that she always defended Turkey in Yerevan and added: “Some Armenians didn’t think Turkey was a developed country and considered it backward. They always asked me questions about Turkey. At first they would get mad at me because I always defended Turkey, but as they got to know me, their views about Turkey changed.”
While Boz has not experienced any major form of discrimination in Turkey over her ethnicity, she has encountered some upsetting attitudes. “For example,” she says, “if a Turk says, ‘I am sick and tired of this city’ when getting off a crowded bus after being stuck in traffic for several hours, no one gets mad or says anything to that person. But when I say it, they tell me, ‘If you don’t like it, go somewhere else.’ This offends me because this is my country, too. Where else am I to go?”
Noting that her parents never told her even a single negative story about problems between Turkey and Armenia, Boz explained that her father always says that “a child should not be brought up with enmity and hatred. This is not healthy.” Proud of her Armenian identity, Boz said she takes her mother’s advice on being proud of who she is.
Boz’s mother tells her to “never hide the fact that you’re Armenian. A person who likes others will have developed an affinity toward Armenians.”
Recalling that her mother could not dare listen to Armenian music 20 years ago, Boz said she believes they can live more freely today. The democratic initiative plays a major role in the expansion of freedoms, she said, adding that both SU TV and she have the courage to present news in Armenian as a result of the initiative. The young woman, who presents news every day between 8:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m, prepares the program herself.