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9.5.11

An Ebru? A Tessera? "A Color of Anatolia"? None of the Above

Talin Suciyan
Translated into English by Serhat Uyurkulak
A bullet from a fellow Turkish soldier killed an Armenian soldier, 25-year-old Sevak Sahin Balikcin, on April 24, 2011, three weeks before the latter were discharged from his military service in the army. The killing has been ruled as accidental, although there are contradictory accounts and suspicions that it could have been intentional, including the fact that it happened in such a symbolic date. This article by journalist Talin Suciyan, written as a response to the discourse surrounding the killing, was published in Turkish and Armenian in the issue 787 of the Istanbul-based "Agos" weekly (May 6, 2011). We have reprinted the English version from the blog "Azad Alik" (azadalik.wordpress.com). The title is ours.
I’m neither your ebru nor your tessera,* nor am I a color of your Anatolia. ‘What are you then?’ you might ask. I’m the child of the remnants of sword; the daughter of women whose bodies have been ravaged; the daughter of a people which many times has been forced to exile and whose traces have been erased throughout the last century from the land it had lived in for millennia. I’m the daughter of a people which has been captivated, alienated from itself, subjugated, and whose existence as well as extermination have been denied, and temples, schools, foundations, even the hearts and minds of its members have been turned inside out. They call me a Turkish Armenian.
On April 24th an Armenian died (shot dead) in  barracks. The Armenians knew from their guts what that meant. But the Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bagis says that ‘our brother Sevak represents the colors of Anatolia.’ Bagis is right; a dead Armenian is always ‘our brother!’ And yes, we do represent a color: A deep, bottomless black. An infinite black!
Sevak’s pitch-black eyes are staring at us; Sevak is draped in the blackest of all colors. Will you be able to look into those eyes without that gibberish about food, folk songs, and brotherhood?
Don’t try to feel the suffering that has lasted a century. However, you can understand the oppression we were subjected to at Sevak’s funeral ceremony; how the church has been taken away from its congregation and the funeral from its rightful owners; and just by looking at the archbishop’s post-service speech, you can understand how the Armenians remaining in Turkey have been sentenced to pay a perennial price for their survival. Don’t expect us to talk any longer for words stand in front of us and laugh mockingly as we try harder to tell. Share in this loneliness. 


* The two images that are most commonly used in the discourse of the so-called ethno-cultural diversity in Turkey are ebru and mosaic. Ebru is the art of paper marbling in which a special kind of paper is laid onto the water in a square or a rectangular tank to ‘record’ the intertwined figures and lines in different colors floating on the surface. The other image envisions each ethnic group in the country as a tessera, which, in combination with the others, creates a mosaic. In both cases it is assumed that the artwork that comes into being represents Turkey itself. (Translator's Note)

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