Assyrian tells his bittersweet story about military service in Turkey
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Sweden-based Assyrian Fehmi Bargello (C) is seen with two Assyrian priests in the southeastern province of Mardin's Midyat district. ‘Even if I had difficulty in military service, I also met sincere people there,’ Bargello says.Sweden-based Assyrian Fehmi Bargello has penned a new story about the difficulties of performing military service in Turkey with a book titled “Gabro” (Gabriel).
The book, which covers an issue that has received little attention previously, has been published in Sweden, but will soon also be 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 the southeastern province of Mardin's Midyat district and conducted 20 months of national service in the early 1970s. First he went to Kayseri as a rifleman before being deployed to the eastern province of Ağrı.
Word of hate avoided
He said he refrained from using any word of hate in his book. “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.”
Bargello said that because he did not hide his identity and religion either in military service or in Turkish society, he was subjected to “discrimination and humiliation.”
“They hit me; I had a really difficult period during my military service,” he said.
He said 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 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.
“Can you imagine? 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 an instrument before.
“Even if I had difficulty in military service, I also met sincere people there,” said Bargello, before summarizing his thoughts on his book: “I am trying to tell my whole story without any censorship. They hit me, humiliated me, even cursed at me, but I have no hatred inside of me.”