Շաբաթ, 13. 07. 2024

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Walking in Footsteps of Armenian Genocide: Iraqi Novelist Tells About Her Visit to Turkey

NEWS.am

NEWS.am presents the abridged version of the article by Iraqi novelist Layla Qasrany, published in the Canadian newspaper Oye! Times. Qasrany has recently visited Turkeyto commemorate the Armenian Genocide and visit sites mentioned in her latest novel.  

“We say in Arabic that there are five benefits to travel. No one seems to know just what these are, but I derived many benefits from a trip I took recently. The journey began with my arrival in southern Turkey to attend the commemoration of the centennial of the Armenian genocide, in which we paid tribute to the million-plus souls deported from Diyarbakkir who consequently died in the desert of Syria.

The first thing I did on the 23rd of April was to make a pilgrimage to the Armenian church of Sourp Giragos, in Turkey. The first person I noticed there was Gafur Turkay, who was sitting in the church’s courtyard with some French men and women and some Kurds who had discovered that their grandparents were Armenians and had then converted to their people’s Christian faith.

It was a gloomy, chilly afternoon when I walked to see the exhibition of the French Armenian photographer Antoine Agoudjian, “They Cry of Silence.” That same evening, I went back to the Armenian church to attend a concert conducted by the pianist Raffi Bedrousyan. To my surprise, most in the audience were Kurds from Diyarbakkir, along with many Armenians who had flown in from Europe, especially France, and from other parts of the globe.

The city officials and the Mayor of Diyarbakkir attended the solemn commemoration as we marched towards the ruins of the Armenian church of St. Sarkis — used as a weapons depot by the Ottomans during WWI. We positioned ourselves in front of the church to bring attention to the need for a restoration of the church.

When the official speeches were over, we gathered under the ruins where the holy altar once stood.  Some Armenian women and men formed a spontaneous choir and sang the Armenian composer Gomidas’ hymn: “Der Voghormia,” or “Lord Have Mercy.” This may have been the first time in over 100 years that a prayer had gone up from this place.”

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