Assyrian tells his bittersweet story about military service in Turkey

Vercihan Ziflio?lu Vercihan Ziflio?lu
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Sweden-based Assyrian Fehmi Bargello (C) is seen with two Assyrian priests in Midyat district of Mardin province in southeaster Turkey. ‘Even if I had difficulty in military service, I had also met sincere people there,’ Bargello says.

Sweden-based Assyrian Fehmi Bargello wrote his story about the difficulties while performing his military service in Turkey with a book titled “Gabro” (Gabriel).

The book, which covers an issue that was not much written about before, has been published in Sweden and it will be also published in Turkey by Aram Publishing house in Turkish.

“I would like to make a remark, a note for the next generation,” Bargello told the Hürriyet Daily News when asked why he wanted to write this story now.

Bargello was born in Turkey’s eastern city of Mardin’s Midyat district and had done his military service for 20 months in the early 1970’s. First he went to Kayseri as a rifleman then he went to the Turkish border city of A?r?.

Word of hate avoided

He said that he refrained from using any word of hate in his book and added: “I wouldn’t like to bother anybody, I just tell the truth which I have experienced. I love Anatolian people without any discrimination of their religion and ethnicity.”

HDN Bargello said that he did not hide his identity and religion either in military service nor in the society in Turkey and that he had was subjected to “discrimination and humiliation” for that.

“They hit me, I had a really difficult period during my military service,” he said.

He said that it was understood that he was not circumcised during a “cleanliness control” and his mates called him names after that.

“They were humiliating me and I was really afraid of them,” he said, adding that if it were not for his two friends that were there for him, he could have tried to escape. Besides sad stories he also experienced tragicomic moments described in the book. One day he was given the duty to buy tuna fish, which was tricky for him.

“Could you imagine that I hadn’t even seen the sea then,” he said, adding that he thought they were talking about “tons” of fish, with the two words spelt the same in Turkish. “I asked them how can I carry tons of fish all by myself!” On another lighter note on the book, he said he pretended to be sick to avoid carrying a musical instrument, remembering that he had not seen any instrument before.

“Even if I had difficulty in military service, I had also met sincere people there,” recalled Bargello, before summarizing his thoughts on his book: “I am trying to tell the whole story of mine without any censorship. They hit me, humiliated me, even cursed at me but I have no any hatred inside of me.”