BAYDEMIR : Come back, Diyarbakır mayor tells Armenians

DİYARBAKIR – Hürriyet Daily News – 27.9.2012 – Diyarbakır’s BDP-member mayor issues a call for exiled Armenians to ‘return to their city’ following the 1915 events while condemning the massacres as ‘cruelty’.

The mayor of Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality has invited all Armenians and other non-Muslim peoples whose ancestors were born in the southeastern province before being forced to flee during the 1915 events to return to the city.

“An Armenian, an Assyrian and a Chaldean, whose grandfathers or great-grandfathers were born in Diyarbakır, have the same right to live in Diyarbakır as I have, [speaking] as a Kurdish person who was born in Diyarbakır. I would like to invite all the ethnic groups whose ancestors lived in Diyarbakır back to Diyarbakır again. Come back to your city,” Osman Baydemir told Turkish and Armenian journalists on Sept. 25 on the sidelines of a roundtable conference called “Expanding the Scope of Dialogue: Media and Armenia-Turkey Relations at the Current Stage” that was organized by the Yerevan Press Club in Diyarbakır.

Kurds, Armenians, Chaldeans, Yezidis and all the ethnic groups that once lived in Diyarbakır took part in the construction of Diyarbakır’s city walls, Baydemir said. “So all of these people have a right to this city.”

According to “Talat Paşa’s Black Book,” written by the historian Murat Bardakçı, there were 56,166 Armenians living in Diyarbakır before the events of 1915. Baydemir also said “he curses the cruelty of 1915 within his conscience.” “We refuse the legacy of our grandfathers, who took part in this massacre [the events of 1915], we refuse to be a part of what they lived, and we commemorate those of our grandfathers who were opposed to this massacre and cruelty,” said Baydemir, who is from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which is focused on the Kurdish issue.

Many researchers have said the ruling Party of Union and Progress during the Ottoman Empire used Kurdish militias known as the “Hamidiye troops” against the Armenians in the events of 1915.“Denying the crimes that were committed by some of our grandfathers would be the same as becoming a part of [those crimes]. We first have to accept the sufferings of the people in order to be able to heal the wounds,” the mayor said. Baydemir said one of his biggest dreams was to construct a common monument in memory of all of those who were lost in the region, including Armenians, Turks, Kurds, Assyrians and Chaldeans up until the 1930s. “I would like to visit this monument with Turks, Armenians and Kurds all together and cry for our lost ones all together. Turks, Kurds, Persians, Arabs – we all have to succeed in negotiation and dialogue in order to be able to live with each other.”