DIKRANAGERT, Turkey—Most of Turkey’s hidden Armenians know about their ethnic origins, but those who are descendants of Genocide survivors have assimilated into the Kurdish population in the past 100 years, says the head of Dikranagert’s St. Kirakos Armenian Church.
“I think serious work needs to be carried out to bring those people to light,” Turkai Abdulgufur told Tert.am.
He said that an increasing number of Armenians in Dikranagert (Diyarbakir) admit their ethnic origins (compared to just a couple of people three or four years ago) and, thanks to the past years’ considerable efforts, they now often gather for joint events, such as dinners at the St. Kirakos church.
“There were 82 people at the latest dinner event. There are now about 140-150 Armenians most of whom have a Muslim identity, but they also take their Armenian identity under care,” he said, noting that the town is now in a state of relative calm compared to the tensions observed 3-4 years ago.
As for his Armenian roots, Abdulgufur said he has known about it since birth. “We [our ancestors] had a big family in Sasun, of which only three people survived — my grandfather, my grandfather’s brother and his nephew. We, who stay in Turkey, know that we are Armenians, and we spoke the little Armenian we knew in our family, but outside of our family, we lived with the identity of Muslims,” he added.
Abdulgufur admitted that he was registered as a Muslim in his previous ID document, adding that he later changed his identity as a Christian after being baptized.
“[The process] began with me; 25 people were baptized in Diyarbekir in the past three to four years and had their religious affiliation changed,” he noted.
Abdulgufur added that Armenians now set up associations of compatriots in different cities and towns to unite their efforts for future progress.
Asked whether he is aware of Turkey’s countermeasures ahead of the Genocide’s centennial, the church leader said he knows that the country is seriously preparing for the anniversary. “There are serious preparations of which we aren’t aware. But we can state that steps are being taken,” he replied.