Armenians in Turkey
(excluding Crypto-Armenians and ethnically Armenian Hamshenis)
|Regions with significant populations|
|İstanbul, Hatay, Diyarbakir, Malatya|
|Turkish (majority), Armenian (minority)|
|Predominantly Armenian Apostolic with Armenian Catholic and Armenian Evangelical minorities.|
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Armenians in Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye Ermenileri; Armenian: Թուրքահայեր, also Թրքահայեր, "Turkish Armenians"), one of the indigenous peoples of Turkey, have an estimated population of 50,000 to 70,000, down from 2 million in 1914. Today, the overwhelming majority of Turkish Armenians are concentrated in Istanbul. They support their own newspapers and schools, and the majority belong to the Armenian Apostolic faith.
Until the Armenian Genocide of 1915, most of the Armenian population of Turkey (then the Ottoman Empire) lived in the eastern parts of the country that Armenians call Western Armenia (roughly corresponding to the modern Eastern Anatolia Region).
- 1 History
- 2 Demographics
- 3 Politics
- 4 Religion
- 5 Education
- 6 Health
- 7 Language
- 8 Culture
- 9 Media
- 10 Famous Turkish-Armenians
- 11 Turkish Armenians in the Diaspora
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 Sources
- 15 Further reading
- 16 External links
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (August 2008)|
Armenians presently living in Turkey are a remnant of what was once a much larger community that existed for thousands of years, long before the establishment of the Sultanate of Rum. Estimates for the number of Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire in the decade before World War I range between 1.3 to 2 million.
When Constantinople finally became part of the Ottoman Empire, financial support was given to the Apostolic Church by the Sultan, so it could build churches in the city, which prior to that the Byzantines refused as they viewed the church as heretical. Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were viewed as a Separate millet, and given the status of second class citizens, but were generally treated well until well into the empires existence regardless. Many Armenians gained significant positions in the empire in professions such as banking, which they almost had a monopoly in, with 32/37 Bankers being Armenian, and the oldest still running Turkish company Zildjian was founded by an Armenian.
Starting in the late 19th century, political instability, dire economic conditions, and continuing ethnic tensions prompted the emigration of as many as 100,000 Armenians to Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. This massive exodus from the Ottoman Empire is what started the modern Armenian diaspora worldwide.
There was conflict between Armenians and Turks between 1892 and 1915. The Armenian Genocide followed in 1915–1916 until 1918, during which the Ottoman government of the time ordered the deportation and killing of 0.9 to 1.2 million Armenians because of alleged political and security considerations. These measures affected a huge majority of Armenians, an estimated 75%-80% of all the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Many died directly through Ottoman massacres, while others died as a result of Dehydration,Disease, and starvation during the death marches and in the Syrian Desert, and even more due to Kurdish raids on fleeing refugees and on Armenians in the death marches.
As for the remaining Armenians in the Eastern parts of the country, they found refuge by 1917–1918 in the Caucasus and within the areas controlled by the newly established Democratic Republic of Armenia. They never returned to their original homes in Eastern Turkey (composed of the six vilayets, namely (Erzurum, Van, Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Mamuretülaziz, and Sivas).
An estimated 300,000 Armenians were adopted by Turks and Kurds or married into Muslim populations in a process of Turkification and Kurdification to avoid facing a similar fate. Their descendants are known as Hidden Armenians and are present throughout Western Armenia, but particularly in Dersim(Tunceli), which witnessed mass conversions.
Most of the Armenian survivors from Cilicia and the southernmost areas with Armenians like Diyarbakir ended up in northern Syria and the Middle East. All those who survived the death camps in/deportations to Deir ez-Zor ended up there as well. Armenians deported from areas that were under allied control by 1918, particularly the short lived French Mandate, which had control of southeastern Turkey and all of Cilicia according to the Sykes–Picot Agreement, were able to return to their homes to gather things or search for loved ones. After the fall of French Cilicia, Some of those returnees attempted to stay permanently after the Turks gained the territory back, but were all driven away by the early 1930s due to various reasons. Those who left the Mandate ended up in Syria, France, Armenia, the Americas and the rest of Europe, in that order. The Armenian population suffered a final blow with ongoing massacres and atrocities throughout the period 1920–1923, during the Turkish War of Independence. Those suffering the most were those Armenians remaining in the East and the South of the country, and the Pontic Greeks in the Black Sea Region.
By the end of the 1920s, only a sprinkling of non converted Armenians were left in Turkey scattered sparsely throughout the country, with the only viable Armenian population remaining in Istanbul and its environs. At the time of the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, Hatay province was part of Syria, and is why that area still has some established and officially recognized Armenian communities.
Due to events in Turkey during the last century Turkish Armenians were killed, forced into hiding, and forcibly converted to Islam, which therefore split them into different groups. There are three groups- Armenian Christians, Crypto Armenians, and Muslim Armenians. Christian Armenians are in most cases part of the recognized minority, but can also include Crypto Armenians who are not legally recognized as Armenian but identify as both Armenian and Christian, and Armenian immigrants to Turkey. Crypto Armenians are Armenians who are legally identified as Turks and are either Christian and openly recognize their identity, hide their identity and either practice Crypto-Christianity or Islam, Openly identify as Armenian but are Muslim, or don't know about their ethnicity at all. The combined total of all Armenians in Turkey is unknown, because the amount of people who are Crypto Armenian is hard to determine, with numbers ranging from as low as 30,000 to several million depending on how broad the standards were to be considered Crypto Armenian in the studies made. However, the combined total of immigrant Armenians and those in the recognized minority would be estimated at 150-170,000. Another statistic could be the amount of people who are members of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, being at 95,000.
The officially recognized Armenian Christian population is estimated to be between 50,000 and 70,000, mostly living in Istanbul and its environs. They are almost always members of the Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Catholic or Armenian Evangelical churches. The number of Armenian Christians is both diminishing due to emigration to Europe, the Americas and Australia, and increasing due to immigrants from Armenia looking for work(who are entirely Christian), and Crypto-Armenians who decide to identify openly as Armenians and convert to Christianity. However, most of that growth is not reflected in official data, because Crypto-Armenians are not listed as part of the recognized Armenian minority due to Turkish laws on the officially recognized(Armenians,Greeks, and Jews) minorities, which doesn't allow newly identified Armenians to change their Turkish identities they were given at birth. As for Armenian immigrants, most are unable to join the minority because they are illegal immigrants. Due to those factors, the de jure number of Armenian Christians is much lower than the de facto amount.
The Armenian minority is recognized as a separate "millet" in the Turkish system and has its own religious, cultural, social and educational institutions along with a distinct media. The Turkish Armenian community struggles to keep its own institutions, media and schools open due to diminishing demand from emigration and quite considerable economic sacrifices.
Regions with Armenian Christians
The Armenian Community of Istanbul is the largest in Turkey, a catalyst being due to the fact that it was the only place that Armenian Christians were at least somewhat protected at the time of the creation of Turkey post Armenian Genocide. Other factors included the Patriarchate having its headquarters in the city, and the city's economy and quality of life attracting Armenian immigrants which allowed for the community to keep stable numbers in the face of discrimination and constant migration, unlike the Greek community, which by comparison had far less or no immigration and now has only 2-3000, mostly elderly members, regardless of the fact it had far more members then the Armenian community starting in 1924(the first post genocide census).
Some of the most important areas for Armenians in Istanbul are the Pangaltı and Kumkapı districts. Kumkapi has the Patriarchate, and is known for its many fish restaurants and historic Churches. One of the main differences between the districts is that Kumkapi is Apostolic, While Pangalti has a mix of Armenian and Roman Catholic. Kumkapi is also located in the Old city, while Pangalti is in the newer part.
Vakıflı Köyü (Armenian: Վաքիֆ — Vakif) is the only remaining fully ethnic Armenian village in Turkey. This village and 6 others managed to brave past the Armenian Genocide in the Musa Dagh Defense. This particular village only exists as of now due to some of the population deciding to stay after Hatay province was invaded and annexed by Turkey in 1939, while the other 6 villages populations decided to leave. It is located on the slopes of Musa Dagh in the Samandağ district of Hatay Province, the village overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and is within eyesight of the Syrian border. It is home to a community of about 130 Turkish-Armenians, and around 300 people who are from the village who come back to visit during the summer.
Diyarbakir(or Amida/Tigranakert) has three operating Armenian churches as of 2015- one Apostolic, one Catholic, and one Protestant- The largest amount for any city in Turkey excluding Istanbul. The city's modern Armenian community was established in the 1920s and 30s when all the Armenians that still lived in the surrounding areas consolidated by moving to Amida, forming a community consisting of 30 families as of the 1980s. It could also be assumed that many Crypto Armenians have been living here as well, because when the Apostolic church was restored in 2011 after years of abandonment, several thousand people came to celebrate mass there.
Based on that, because the conditions are changing for Armenians(and Christians in general) in Amida, a much larger Armenian Christian community could potentially come into being if the Crypto Armenian population start revealing their identities. Many already have, with several baptisms being done as a show of their new Christian and Armenian identities. The success of the Armenian community here as a whole is largely thanks to the Kurdish HDP party mayor, who has publicly apologized for Kurdistans role in the Armenian genocide, and has even went as far as building a Genocide memorial in the city.
both Identified and officially recognized Armenians elsewhere are spread thinly throughout the eastern and central parts of the country in tiny communities such as in Malayta, Sivas, Van, Kayseri, Elazig, and Muş. Many of these communities are so tiny that there isn't even a single church to accommodate them. In some cases the community is large enough, But the leadership of the city makes it so it's impossible to have one, Such as in Malayta. The number of Armenian Christians have risen significantly in these parts of the country, particularly in cities like Van, Mus, and Sivas, where the communities are new and entirely Crypto in origin. However, These new communities of entirely Crypto origin are not legally identified as Armenians, so therefore can't even attempt to get Armenian services like churches and schools, regardless of identifying openly as Armenians. However, Many of them have been living as Cryptos for years, and have built inconspicuous places of worship in the countryside, such as rock churches.
Immigration from Armenia
The Christian Armenian presence in Turkey is reinforced by a constant flow of mostly illegal immigrants from Armenia who settle in Turkey in search of better job opportunities, where the difference in pay can be quite significant. Despite a negative public opinion in Armenia of "an Armenian who works for a Turk" as a result of the century-long uneasy relationship between the two countries, by 2010, there were between 22,000 and 25,000 Armenian citizens living illegally in Istanbul alone, according to Turkish officials, and an estimated total amount of 100,000. Many of them are employed in Turkish households to provide domestic services, such as cooking and cleaning. According to a 2009 interview poll of 150 Armenian work migrants, the majority are women. In 2010, amid Armenia's push for the recognition of the 1915 events as genocide, Prime Minister Erdoğan threatened to deport the illegal immigrants back to Armenia, however the situation gradually thawed. Some Armenian immigrants do not discuss ever returning to their homeland having adapted to life in Turkey. Beginning in 2011, children of the Armenian citizens living illegally in Istanbul have been allowed to attend local Armenian minority schools, but as they are not Turkish citizens, they do not receive diplomas at the end of the school term.
Also in Turkey are the Hopa Hemshinli (also designated occasionally as eastern Hemshinli in publications) are Sunni Muslims of Armenian origin and culture who converted to Islam during Ottoman and earlier rule, and mostly live in the Hopa and Borçka counties of Turkey's Artvin Province. In addition to Turkish, they speak a dialect of western Armenian they call "Homshetsma" or "Hemşince" in Turkish.
Hidden Armenians or crypto-Armenians is an umbrella term to describe people in Turkey "of full or partial ethnic Armenian origin who generally conceal their Armenian identity from wider Turkish society." They are descendants of Armenians in Turkey who were Islamized and either Kurdified or Turkified under the threat of either death, displacement, loss of property or a combination of those during the Armenian Genocide. Ways in which they were converted included orphans being taken in by Muslim families, Armenian women being taken as wives by soldiers, and entire families converting by joining communities that accepted them. The latter option is said to of happened en masse in the Province of Dersim(Tunceli).
Many Cryptos are totally unaware of their Armenian ethnicity, living as Turks or Kurds, while many know they are Armenian but hide it out of fear of discrimination.
Considering the advanced nature of Crypto Armenians, They cannot be classified as either Muslim or Christian. Some practice Crypto-Christianity, masquerading as Muslims, while many genuinely practice Islam. Most Cryptos who later identify as Armenians are Christian as well, with a common practice among those who confess their ethnicity being to have a Christian baptism performed. Still, some who confess do not change their religion, and continue on as Muslims. Others even practice both faiths depending on where they are. That may just be due to a lack of churches, and for identified Armenians who are Muslim, a fear of Turkish extremists.
The traditional Armenian political parties were known to be very active in Armenian-Turkish political life from the 1890s to 1915 at least and this included the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF - Dashnagtsutiun), the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (Hunchak) and the Armenakan Party, the predecessor of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (Ramgavar Party). But the activities of all these Armenian parties were curtailed after 1915, and ethnic-based political parties as well as religious-based political parties are de jure prohibited in Turkey.
Some point to the fact that in the early 1920s, there were a number of Armenians in Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's movement, even actively aiding him in his Turkish National Movement and supporting his Kemalist ideology and secular movement. The Armenians perceived in the secular state established by Atatürk a way of survival for the remnants of Armenians still in Turkey.
The wealth tax known as Varlık Vergisi, a Turkish tax levied on the wealthy citizens of Turkey by a law enacted on November 11, 1942, with the stated aim of raising funds for the country's defense in case of an eventual entry into World War II had devastating effect on the ethnic minorities of Turkey, and most importantly the Armenian community. The draconian law came under harsh criticism, as property holders had to sell a lot of their assets at greatly deflated prices or such assets were confiscated by the authorities. The unpopular law was abolished on March 15, 1944.
The Armenians of Turkey were also highly critical of the activist role that the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), the Justice Commandos Against Armenian Genocide (JCAG), Armenian Revolutionary Army (ARA) and other Armenian guerrilla organizations played in targeting Turkish diplomats and interests worldwide at the height of their anti-Turkish campaign in the 1970s and 1980s. The fears of the Turkish Armenians were justified with the fact that at many times, Turkish-Armenian institutions and even religious centers were targeted by threats and actual bombings in retaliation of the acts of ASALA, JCAG, ARA and others.
The Turkish-Armenian Artin Penik committed suicide in 1982 by self-immolation in protest of the terrorist attack on 7 August 1982 in Ankara's Esenboğa International Airport by the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia. Penik died five days after he set himself on fire in Taksim plaza, the main square of Istanbul, Turkey, and his stance was reflected by the Turkish mass media as a protest of most Turkish-Armenians against such attacks. Nine people had been killed and more than 70 wounded in the attack on the Turkish airport.
Another turbulent point for the Armenian community of Turkey was the highly publicized public trial of the Armenian gunman and one of the perpetrators of the attack, the 25-year-old Levon Ekmekjian, who was found guilty and eventually hanged at Ankara's civilian prison on January 30, 1983. He had been sentenced to death in September 1982 after having confessed that he had carried out the airport attack with another gunman on behalf of ASALA, and despite the fact that he publicly condemned violent acts during his own trial and appealed to the Armenian militants to stop the violence.
The Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) was set up in July 2001 a joint project of a number of Turkish and Armenian intellectuals and political experts to discuss various aspects of the Turkish-Armenian relations and approving a set of recommendations to the governments of Turkey and Armenia on how to improve the strained relations between the two countries.
Thousands of Turks joined Turkish intellectuals in publicly apologizing for the World War I era mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. The unprecedented apology was initiated by a group of 200 Turkish academics, journalists, writers and artists disagreeing with the official Turkish version of what many historians consider the first genocide of the 20th century. Their petition, entitled "I apologize", was posted on a special website http://www.ozurdiliyoruz.com/.
On the occasion of a World Cup qualifying match between the two national football teams of Turkey and Armenia in the Armenian capital Yerevan, and following the Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's invitation to attend the match, on 6 September 2008, the Turkish President Abdullah Gül paid a breakthrough landmark visit to Armenia that he said "promises hope for the future" for the two countries. The Armenian president Sargsyan will reciprocate the visit to Turkey during 2009.
The Armenians in Turkey used to be active in Turkish politics. The Turkish-Armenian Sarkis "Aghparik" Cherkezian and Aram Pehlivanyan (Nickname: Ahmet Saydan) played a pivotal role in the founding of the Turkish Communist Party. There used to be Armenian activists in many other Turkish political parties as well. In 2015, three Turkish-Armenians, Garo Paylan (Peoples' Democratic Party), Markar Esayan (Justice and Development Party), and Selina Ozuzun Dogan (Republican People's Party)—were elected, and became the first Armenians to be elected as Member of Parliament to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey since 1961.
Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian journalist, writer and political activist, and the chief editor and publisher of Agos had carved himself a position of that of a very prominent figure for conveying the ideas and aspirations of the Armenian community in Turkey not only for Turkish-Armenians but for many Armenians worldwide. His newspaper Agos had played an important role in presenting Armenian historical grievances through publishing of articles and opinions in the Turkish language addressed to the Turkish public opinion. His assassination in front of his newspaper offices on January 19, 2007 turned into an occasion for expression of national grief throughout Turkey and the rallying of great support for the concerns of the Armenian community in Turkey by the general Turkish public.
Dink was best known for advocating Turkish-Armenian reconciliation and human and minority rights in Turkey; he was often critical of both Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide, and of the Armenian diaspora's campaign for its international recognition. Dink was prosecuted three times for denigrating Turkishness, while receiving numerous death threats from Turkish nationalists. At his funeral, one hundred thousand mourners marched in protest of the assassination, chanting "We are all Armenians" and "We are all Hrant Dink". Criticism of Article 301 became increasingly vocal after his death, leading to parliamentary proposals for repeal of the law.
Virtually all Armenians who are officially registered as part of the Armenian Minority are Christians, and are either of the Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, or less commonly Protestant denominations. The religion of others and those not officially part of the minority is elaborated on in the Demographics section.
Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople
The Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul (officially Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople) is, since 1461, the religious head of the Armenian community in Turkey. The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople has exerted a very significant political role earlier and today still exercises a spiritual authority, which earns it considerable respect among Orthodox churches. The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople recognizes the primacy of the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, in the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Armenian Church, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Vagharshapat, Republic of Armenia, in matters that pertain to the worldwide Armenian Church. In local matters, the Patriarchal See is autonomous.
Armenian Catholic Archdiocese of Constantinople
The Armenian Catholic Archdiocese of Constantinople is based in Istanbul and in 2008 reported 3,650 followers.
Christmas date, etiquette and customs
Armenians celebrate Christmas at a date later than most of the Christians, on 6 January rather than 25 December. The reason for this is historical; according to Armenians, Christians once celebrated Christmas on 6 January, until the 4th century. 25 December was originally a pagan holiday that celebrated the birth of the sun. Many members of the church continued to celebrate both holidays, and the Roman church changed the date of Christmas to be 25 December and declared January 6 to be the date when the three wise men visited the baby Jesus. As the Armenian Apostolic Church had already separated from the Roman church at that time, the date of Christmas remained unchanged for Armenians.
The Armenians in Turkey refer to Christmas as Surp Dzınunt (Holy Birth) and have fifty days of preparation called Hisnag before Christmas. The first, fourth and seventh weeks of Hisnag are periods of vegetarian fast for church members and every Saturday at sunset a new purple candle is lit with prayers and hymns. On the second day of Christmas, 7 January, families visit graves of relatives and say prayers.
Armenian Churches in Turkey
Turkey has hundreds of Armenian churches, however the majority of which are either in ruins or are being used for other purposes. Armenian churches still in active use belong to various denominations, mainly Armenian Apostolic, but also Armenian Catholic and Armenian Evangelical Protestant.
Turkey’s Armenian community faces educational problems due to the steadily decreasing number of students every school year and lack of funding. The number of Armenian schools decreases year by year. This number has fallen from 47 to 17 today with currently 3,000 Armenian students, down from 6,000 Armenian students in 1981. Schools are kindergarten through 12th grade (K–12), kindergarten through 8th grade (K-8) or 9th grade through 12th (9–12). Ermeni İlköğretim Okulu means "Armenian primary+secondary school". Ermeni Lisesi means "Armenian high school". The Armenian schools apply the full Turkish curriculum in addition to Armenian subjects, mainly Armenian language, literature and religion.
In September 2011, the Turkish government recognized the right of immigrant families from Armenia to send their children to schools of the Turkey's Armenian community. This move came as a result of lobbying of Deputy Patriarch Aram Ateşyan, according to whom there were some 1,000 children of Armenian immigrants in Turkey at that time. However, as they are not Turkish citizens, at the end of the school term, they do not receive diplomas.
- Aramyan-Uncuyan Ermeni İlköğretim Okulu
- Bezciyan Ermeni İlköğretim Okulu
- Bomonti Ermeni İlköğretim Okulu
- Dadyan Ermeni İlköğretim Okulu
- Kalfayan Cemaran İlköğretim Okulu
- Karagözyan İlköğretim Okulu
- Kocamustafapaşa Anarat Higutyun Ermeni İlköğretim Okulu
- Levon Vartuhyan Ermeni İlköğretim Okulu
- Feriköy Ermeni İlköğretim Okulu
- Nersesyan-Yermonyan Ermeni İlköğretim Okulu
- Pangaltı Anarat Higutyun Ermeni İlköğretim Okulu
- Tarkmanças Ermeni İlköğretim Okulu
- Yeşilköy Ermeni İlköğretim Okulu
Turkish Armenians also have their own long-running hospitals:
- Surp Prgiç Armenian Hospital (Սուրբ Փրկիչ in Armenian - pronounced Sourp Pergitch or St Saviour). It also has its media information bulletin called "Surp Prgiç"
- Surp Agop Armenian Hospital (Սուրբ Յակոբ in Armenian pronounced Sourp Hagop)
Only a small percentage of Turkish Armenians speak Armenian, and are bilingual and use either or both Armenian (The Western Armenian dialect) and Turkish languages as a mother language, and Turkish in their daily lives. The vast majority of Turkish Armenians speak only Turkish as a mother language.
Western Armenian (Armenian: Արեւմտահայերէն pronounced Arevmedahayeren), Armenian: Արեւմտեան աշխարհաբար pronounced Arevmedyan Ashkharhapar, (and earlier known as Armenian: Թրքահայերէն, namely "Trkahayeren" (Turkish-Armenian)) are one of the two modern dialects of the modern Armenian, an Indo-European language.
The Western Armenian dialect was developed in the early part of the 19th century, based on the Armenian dialect of the Armenians in Istanbul, to replace many of the Armenian dialects spoken throughout Turkey.
It was widely adopted in literary Armenian writing and in Armenian media published in the Ottoman Empire as well as large parts of the Armenian Diaspora and in modern Turkey.
Partly because of this, Istanbul veritably became the cultural and literary center of the Western Armenians in the 19th and early 20th century.
Western Armenian is spoken by the Armenian diaspora, mainly in North America and South America, Europe and most of the Middle East except for Iran, where the Armenian population because of proximity to Armenia uses Eastern Armenian, while keeping the traditional Mashdotsian spelling. Adoption of Western Armenian is also mainly due to the fact that great majority of the Armenian diaspora in all these areas (Europe, Americas, Middle East) was formed in the 19th and early 20th century through Armenian populations emanating from the Ottoman Empire.
The Western Armenian language is markedly different in grammar, pronunciation and spelling from the Eastern Armenian language spoken in Armenia, Iran and Russia although they are both mutually intelligible. Western Armenian in marked difference also still keeps the classical Armenian orthography known as Mashdotsian Spelling, whereas Eastern Armenian adopted reformed spelling in the 1920s (Eastern Armenian in Iran did not adopt this reform then).
The Western Armenian language is still spoken by a small minority of the present-day Armenian community in Turkey. Only 18 percent of the Armenian community speaks Western Armenian, while 82 percent of the Armenian community speaks Turkish. This percentage is even lower among younger people of whom only 8 percent speaks Western Armenian and 92 percent speaks Turkish. Turkish is replacing Western Armenian as a mother language, and UNESCO has added Western Armenian in its annual "Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger" where the Western Armenian language in Turkey is defined as a definitely endangered language.
Armeno-Turkish (Turkish in Armenian alphabet)
From the early 18th century until around 1950, and for almost 250 years, more than 2000 books were printed in the Turkish language using letters of the Armenian alphabet. This is popularly known as Armeno-Turkish.
Armeno-Turkish was not used just by Armenians, but also many non-Armenian elite (including the Ottoman Turkish intellectuals) could actually read the Armenian-alphabet Turkish language texts.
The Armenian alphabet was also used alongside the Arabic alphabet on official documents of the Ottoman Empire, written in Ottoman Turkish. For example, the Aleppo edition of the official gazette of the Ottoman Empire, called "Frat" (Turkish and Arabic for the Euphrates) contained a Turkish section of laws printed in Armenian alphabet.
Also very notably, the first novel to be written in the Ottoman Empire was 1851's Akabi Hikayesi, written by Armenian statesman, journalist and novelist Vartan Pasha (Hovsep Vartanian) in Ottoman Turkish, was published with Armenian script. Akabi Hikayesi depicted an impossible love story between two young people coming from two different communities amidst hostility and adversity.
Great collection of Armeno-Turkish could be found in Christian Armenian worship until the late 1950s. The Bible used by many Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was not only the Bible versions printed in Armenian, but also at times the translated Turkish language Bibles using the Armenian alphabet. Usage continued in Armenian church gatherings specially for those who were Turkophones rather than Armenophones. Many of the Christian spiritual songs used in certain Armenian churches were also in Armeno-Turkish.
Armenians and the Turkish language
Bedros Keresteciyan, the Ottoman linguist completed the first etymological dictionary of Turkish. Armenians contributed considerably to the development of printing in Turkey: Tokatlı Apkar Tıbir started a printing house in Istanbul in 1567, the historian Eremia Çelebi, Merzifonlu Krikor, Sivaslı Parseh, Hagop Brothers, Haçik Kevorkyan Abraham from Thrace, Eğinli Bogos Arabian, Hovannes Muhendisian, Rephael Kazancian were among many. Bogos Arabian issued the first Turkish daily newspaper, Takvim-i Vekayi and its translation to Armenian. Hovannes Muhendisian is known as the "Turkish Gutenberg". Haçik Kevorkyan updated the Ottoman Turkish alphabet. Yervant Mısırlıyan developed and implemented publishing books in installments for the first time in the Ottoman Empire. Kasap Efendi, published the first Comic magazine Diyojen in 1870.
Agop Dilâçar (1895–1979) was a Turkish Armenian linguist who had great contribution to the reform of Turkish language. He specialized in Turkic languages and was the first Secretary General and head specialist of the Turkish Language Association (TLA) from its establishment in 1932 until 1979. In addition to Armenian and Turkish, Martayan knew English, Greek, Spanish, Latin, German, Russian and Bulgarian. He was invited on September 22, 1932, as a linguistics specialist to the First Turkish Language Congress supervised by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Istepan Gurdikyan (1865–1948), linguist, Turcologist, educator and academic and Kevork Şimkeşyan both ethnic Armenians were also prominent speakers at the first Turkish Language Conference. Agop Martayan Dilaçar continued his work and research on the Turkish language as the head specialist and Secretary General of the newly founded Turkish Language Association in Ankara. Atatürk suggested him the surname Dilaçar (literally meaning language opener), which he accepted. He taught history and language at Ankara University between 1936 and 1951 and was the head advisor of the Türk Ansiklopedisi (Turkish Encyclopedia), between 1942 and 1960. He held his position and continued his research in linguistics at the Turkish Language Association until his death in 1979.
Armenians try to keep a rich cultural life and do participate in the Turkish art scene.
The pan-Turkish Kardeş Türküler cultural and musical formation, in addition to performing a rich selection of Turkish, Kurdish, Georgian, Arabic and gypsy musical numbers, also includes a number of beautiful interpretation of Armenian traditional music in its repertoire. It gave sold-out concerts in Armenia as part of the Turkish-Armenian Cultural Program, which was made possible with support from USAID.
The "Sayat-Nova" choir was founded in 1971 under the sponsorship of the St. Children’s Church of Istanbul performs traditional Armenian songs and studies and interprets Armenian folk music.
In contemporary music, Arto Tunçboyacıyan and his brother the late Onno Tunç are two veritable jazz musicians, composers and arrangers. The Turkish rock artist Yaşar Kurt declared he was of ethnic Armenian descent. Another famous Armenian rock musician is Hayko Cepkin. Hayko Tataryan is also well known for singing in Turkish, Armenian and Greek, so is his son Alex Tataryan. Very recently the Turkish-Armenian singer Sibil Pektorosoğlu (better known by her mononym Sibil) has become popular winning pan-Armenian music prizes for her recordings.
Cinema and acting
In movie acting, special mention should be made of Vahi Öz who appeared in countless movies from the 1940s until the late 1960s, Sami Hazinses (real name Samuel Agop Uluçyan) who appeared in tens of Turkish movies from the 1950s until the 1990s and Nubar Terziyan who appeared in more than 400 movies.Movie actor and director Kenan Pars (real name Kirkor Cezveciyan) and theatre and film actress Irma Felekyan (aka Toto Karaca), who was mother of Cem Karaca.
Turkish Armenian novelists, poets, essayists and literary critics continue to play a very important role particularly in the literary scene of the Armenian diaspora, with works of quality in Western Armenian.
Robert Haddedjian chief editor of Marmara newspaper published in Istanbul remains a pivotal figure in the literary criticism scene. Zareh Yaldizciyan (1923–2007), better known by his pen name Zahrad was a renowned Western Armenian poet.
Istanbul was home to a number of long-running and influential Armenian publications. Very notable now-defunct daily newspapers included Arevelk (1884–1915), Puzantyon (1896–1908), Sourhantag (1899–1908), Manzoume Efkyar (1912–1917), Vertchin Lour (1914–1924). Outside Istanbul, the notable daily publications included Arshalouys (1909–1914), Tashink (1909–1914) and Van (1908–1909).
Presently, Istanbul has two Armenian language dailies. These two newspapers, Jamanag (established in 1908) and Marmara also have a long tradition of keeping alive the Turkish Armenian literature, which is an integral part of the Western Armenian language and Armenian literature.
- Jamanag (Ժամանակ in Armenian meaning time) is a long-running Armenian language daily newspaper published in Istanbul, Turkey. The daily was established in 1908 by Misak Kochounian and has been somewhat a family establishment, given that it has been owned by the Kochounian family since its inception. After Misak Kochounian, it was passed down to Sarkis Kochounian, and since 1992 is edited by Ara Kochounian.
- Marmara,  daily in Armenian (Armenian: Մարմարա) (sometimes "Nor Marmara" - New Marmara) is an Armenian-language daily newspaper published since 1940 in Istanbul, Turkey. It was established by Armenian journalist Souren Shamlian. Robert Haddeler took over the paper in 1967. Marmara is published six times a week (except on Sundays). The Friday edition contains a section in Turkish as well. Circulation is reported at 2000 per issue.
- Agos,  (Armenian: Ակօս, "Furrow") is a bilingual Armenian weekly newspaper published in Istanbul in Turkish and Armenian. It was established on 5 April 1996. Today, it has a circulation of around 5,000. Besides Armenian and Turkish pages, the newspaper has an on-line English edition as well. Hrant Dink was its chief editor from the newspaper's start until his assassination outside of the newspaper's offices in Istanbul in January 2007. Hrant Dink's son Arat Dink served as the executive editor of the weekly after his assassination.
- Lraper,  (Լրաբեր in Armenian) is a trilingual periodical publication in Armenian, Turkish and English languages and is the official organ of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople
In September 2011, the Turkish government granted some financing to Jamanak, Marmara and Agos as part of a wider campaign in support of existing minority newspapers in Turkey. The Turkish Press Advertisement Agency also declared intention to publish official government advertisements in minority newspapers including Armenian ones.
Turkish Armenians in the Diaspora
Despite leaving their homes in Turkey, the Turkish Armenians traditionally establish their own unions within the Armenian Diaspora. Usually named "Bolsahay Miutyun"s (Istanbul-Armenian Associations), they can be found in their new adopted cities of important Turkish-Armenian populations. Among them are the "Organization of Istanbul Armenians of Los Angeles", the "Istanbul Armenian Association in Montreal", etc.
The Turkish Ambassador in Berlin, Hüseyin Avni Karslıoğlu, inaugurated in December 2012 at the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp a memorial stone with bronze letters (third of its kind after the Polish and Dutch similars) to the memory of eight Turkish citizens killed during the Holocaust, one of whom is a Turkish Armenian with the name Garabed Taşçıyan.
- Minorities in Turkey
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Sonunda nüfuslarını 70 bine indirmeyi başardık.
- The Armenian economic superiority can be seen the best perhaps from the very fact that there were 32 Armenian bankers out of total 37 throughout the Ottoman Empire
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Anadolu’da anneanneniz gibi 300 bin kadın bulunduğu söyleniyor.
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Nitekim 1942 yılında yürürlüğe giren Varlık Vergisi, Ermenilerin, Rumların ve Yahudilerin ekonomideki liderliğine son vermeyi hedeflemiştir...Seçim dönemleri CHP ve DP'nin Varlık Vergisi'nin geri ödeneceği yönündeki vaatleri ise seçim propagandasından ibarettir.
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One of the darkest events in Turkish history was the Wealth Tax, levied discriminatory against non-Muslims in 1942, hobbling Armenians with the most punitive rates.
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- H. Birsen Örs, "Perception of the Army by Armenian Minorities Living in Turkey," Armed Forces & Society Vol. 36, No. 4 (2010).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Armenian churches in Turkey.|
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- Marmara Armenian daily newspaper
- Hye Tert Armenian site (Turkish)