During the First World War, Armenians who gathered in Istanbul were arrested, killed or exiled as a result of deportation orders by Talat Pasha, in an event known as Red Sunday.
Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were displaced from their homes, while up to 1.5 million lost their lives. The Armenians call their experience Medz Yeghern (the great crime) or Aghet (catastrophe).
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Şişli District co-chair Ani Kalk spoke to the Mesopotamia Agency (MA) about the historical massacre of the Armenian people.
Kalk emphasised that millions of Armenians were exiled in one night, and women suffered the most during the exile. ”Although we do not know much about what happened, we felt the pain of our mothers. We remember the pain every day, we live with that every day,” Kalk said.
These traumas continue for the Armenian community and the fear they experienced prevails. ”At that time, child marriages reached the highest level. Young women were left to the older acquaintances by their families during migration, then they were accepted as spouses after psychological or physical ill-treatment in the household.”
Kalk’s grandmother was also an Armenian child bride, married to his then 35-year-old grandfather when she was only 11. Over the years, Kalk’s family were forced to migrate from the eastern Batman (Aih) province to Istanbul.
“My father would not mention these events because he lost his family in the genocide,” Kalk said. “But I remember our grandmothers always said, ‘Don’t let it happen, never again’.”
Recalling the words of slain Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, “If we go away, wherever we go, this is our home,” Kalk expressed that his roots remain in those lands no matter how much his heritage is denied.
“In this country, thousands of Armenians were together for Hrant’s funeral. We were there because of our loyalty to Hrant, but we still have to show our loyalty to our ancestors who experienced dozens of massacres. It is not the time to hide in our shells,” Kalk said.
Kalk said the genocide suffered by Armenians threatens the Kurds today. “Everyone should courageously support the struggle of the Kurdish people,” said Kalk. “I am proud to be a part of the HDP with my Armenian identity. I believe that one day peace will reign over these lands.”