12 crypto-Armenians from Dersim baptized in Istanbul
Reuters PhotoTwelve Armenians from Dersim, an older name of the eastern Turkish province of Tunceli, were baptized in an Armenian church in Istanbul on May 9, daily Agos has reported. The baptized group came from families who had concealed their Christian and Armenian heritage out of fear of social prejudice.
Deputy Armenian Patriarch Archbishop Aram Ateşyan presided over the baptizing ceremony led by Father Dırtad Uzunyan in Istanbul’s Yeşilköy Surp Istepanos Church.
The baptism took place after the 12 Armenians took a six-month course in church doctrine and basic knowledge of Christian beliefs.
Two married couples also held religious engagement ceremonies following the baptism.
The Dersim Armenians who were baptized expressed their joy after the ceremonies.
Hovannes Minas, who both married and was baptized at the church, said he was fulfilling a pledge to his ancestors.
“This is a very happy day for me. I was baptized and we held our religious marriage ceremony. It is an inexpressible happiness. We have never forgotten our religion. We can live freely now,” Minas said.
“I promised my mother and father that we would bury them in an Armenian cemetery. I was able to keep that promise as well. There were only three of us when we decided to become baptized, and this number later grew to 12. We are very happy,” he added.
“I am now experiencing the freedom of being able to defend myself against those who insulted us. We have dreamed of this day since childhood. We are returning to our roots,” said one of the Armenians, who took name “Arev” in the baptism ceremony.
“I feel amazing. I have been waiting for this day for a long time. I no longer have to conceal my identity. I can now freely say ‘I am a Christian,’” said Kristin, another one of the participants.