„Revealing Chauvinism“: Turkey refuses the deceased Armenian artist Aram Tigran a last resting-place

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Turkey’s refusal to allow the Armenian singer Aram Tigran to be buried in the Kurdish metropole of Diyarbakir has been described by the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) as “revealing chauvinism”. “We recommend German politicians of all parties to defy political correcstness and to distance themselves from a Turkish nationalism of this kind, whether it shows itself in Ankara or in the German community of Turkish descent”, said the GfbV chairperson, Tilman Zülch, on Tuesday in Göttingen.

Aram Tigran, who died in Athens at the age of 75, was buried on Monday in Brussels. The Kurdish mayor of Diyarbakir, Osman Baydemir, had earth from his city transported to Belgium to fulfil the last wish of the artist. Kurds had saved the life of his father during the genocide against the Armenians in Turkey in 1915. He fled with them to Syria and settled in the town of Qamischli, which was inhabited mainly by Kurds.
There his son Aram Tigran was born in 1934.

Aram Tigran was an outstanding interpreter of contemporary Kurdish music and sang mainly in Kurmanci Kurdish, but also in Armenian, Aramaic, Greek and Arab. The musician emigrated in the 60s to then Soviet republic of Armenia and lived from the beginning of the 90s mainly in Greece and Belgium. It was only shortly before his death that he was able for the first time to visit the province of Diyarbakir, the old homeland of his forebears.

“In Germany too the chairperson of the Turkish community in Germany, Kenan Kolat, would evidently like to make sure that the young German generation does not discover what happened in 1915 in eastern Anatolia”, commented Zülch. For Kolat recently said that the guidelines for teachers in Brandenburg schools presented a psychological burden for Turkish school-children and were therefore a danger for inner peace. The guidelines deal with the genocide in the Osman Empire of 1915/16, to which about 1.5 million Armenians and about 500,000 Christian Assyrian Arameans fell victim. Many Kurdish Agas took part in the crime, who were organised in the paramilitary so-called Hamidiye militia (today’s village guardians).

The following rule of Kemal Atatürk resulted in the murder of at least 200,000 Christians in the region around the port of Smyrna, today’s Izmir, and in eastern Thrace in the European part of Turkey. Other estimates bring the figure up to 350,000 Christians murdered. At least two million Greek Orthodox, but also Armenian and Assyrian Aramean Christians from Pontos, Cappadocia and Ionia and Arab Christians from the region around Alexandrette, today’s Iskenderun, were driven out at this time. The number of Christians in the total population of today’s Turkey fell within 50 years from 20 percent to about 0.1 Percent.