By Hambersom Aghbashian
Kemal Yalçin (born 1952 in Turkey’s southwestern Denizil province), is a bilingual German-Turkish writer who has won several awards. After earning degrees in education and philosophy, Mr.Yalçin went on to become a journalist and was the editor of the Halkin Yolu (The way of the people) newspaper in Turkey until he was forced to flee in 1981 for political reasons to Germany. Currently he works as a teacher in Bochum. He was also for some time a lecturer in the Department of Turkish Studies at the University of Essen. He is the author of many books, including books for children.
Kemal Yalçin is the author of “You Rejoice My Heart”. This book is based on a quest made by the author to find Turkey’s hidden Armenians, those who survived the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and remained in Turkey. Yalçin is a very sympathetic observer, which make his account all the more powerful. His account finds crypto-Armenians and donmes, people who survived discrimination and anti-Armenian riots in Istanbul, as well as others who eloped with Muslim Turks.(1)
The translation of “You Rejoice My Heart”, was published by the Tekeyan Cultural Association, and according to “http://agbu.org/news”, The Tekeyan Cultural Assn. welcomed Turkish author Kemal Yalçin back to the AGBU Chicago Center in collaboration with a host of other Armenian organizations and churches, in celebration of the release of the English edition of his book “You Rejoice My Heart”, which was produced by Tekeyan.”
On March 16, Kemal Yalçin, in the Glendale Public Library auditorium, explained how he embarked on a project to seek out Armenians living in Turkey as Muslims or Turks, and wrote his book “You Rejoice My Heart”. His journey took him on a trajectory that started with his native Honaz and included Amasya, Erzurum, Askale, Kars, and ended in the ancient city of Ani. Through the story of a woman called Safiye (her Armenian name was Zaruhi), he reflected the lives of other Armenians living in Amasya after 1915. Amasya once had a thriving Armenian population. The community, along with its churches and schools, was utterly devastated during the Genocide. After 1915, only about 60 Armenian families remained. All they knew was that they were Armenians and their religion was different. “We didn’t let a lot of people know about it” Madame Safiye says. “Even so, we were so afraid!” Armenians tried their best to marry within their tiny community. They prayed in secret and adopted Armenian orphans who had survived the massacres. While some Armenians eventually fled, most of those who remained stopped speaking their native tongue and denied ever being Armenian. “There is big work to do,” Mr. Yalcin added. “As humans we have to address and expose this inhumanity.” You Rejoice My Heart has been published in English, Italian, Armenian, Spanish, French, in addition to Turkish.(2)
According to www.news.am, April 4, 2011, “In his speech delivered at a conference in Brussels, Turkish writer Kemal Yalçin addressed the participants in Armenian, Assyrian and Turkish. He said if there was no Genocide, non-Muslims population could have been 15 million today.” History will never forgive the crimes against humanity. Let our grief become basis for peace and justice. As a Turkish writer I apologize to Armenians and Assyrians. I wish that Silk bridge on the border between Armenia and Turkey [the historical bridge in Ani] was renovated and became a symbol of brotherhood between the Armenian and Turkish nations”. (3)
“A Century of Silence: Terror and the Armenian Genocide” was published in Volume 79, Number 3, September 2010 of The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, where the author Jack Danielian wrote “If rape, torture, sex slavery, massacre, and ethnic cleansing are on a continuum of major human rights violations, then genocidal impulse occupies the extreme pole of that continuum. Crimes of genocide involve psychogenic and psychodynamic underpinnings that can be terrifying to contemplate.” Many specialists, historians and others were quoted or interviewed and the following is an abstract from the research, “The fear and terror such linkages can bring to an already traumatized people is obvious. It was with great difficulty that Kemal Yalçin got Armenian interviewees to speak to a hugely sympathetic Turkish chronicler like himself. He describes a conscious or unconscious drive amongst Armenian survivors to hide their past, above all in any contact with a Turk, the survivors bury their secret. Historic memory tells them that those who stood out in any way were the first to be selected for torture and liquidation.” (4)