ISTANBUL — The General Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, Archbishop Aram Ateshian gave an interview to the Turkish Bugun TV channel, where he told about the concealed Armenians living in Turkey, the number of which makes about a million. Archbishop Ateshian stated that those people were made to conceal their nation and become Muslims during the World War I, because of the well-known events, occurred to Armenians in the Ottoman Turkey.
“There are about a hundred thousand people in the present generation in Turkey, whose parents are Armenians and they are Muslims. They talk Armenian and wear a cross secretly. They do not want to attend church, as it will reveal their identity. The liturgy held in the Saint Kirakos Church in Diyarbakir was attended by more than 400 people, half of which having Armenian roots. My family as well lives in Diyarbakir as Muslims. The sons of my elder sister also live in Diyarbakir. They accepted Islam under pressure in 1950.
My son-in-law was told if he does not accept Islam, he will be killed. I was born in 1954. When I was 4-5, my sister became a Muslim. Their children became Muslims as well. My sister wore her cross secretly and spoke Armenian. I lost them, as they did not attend our church and I could not christen them. Many of the concealed Armenians told about their being Armenians only before their death.
A 30-year-old man came to me and asked to christen him. I told him to prove his being Armenian and he could not. Then his father called me and asked to accept his son. He said that he worked in the municipality and when he retires, he will return to his roots. According to his son, 90% of the population of Tunceli are Armenians and now he is a member of our church”.