Evening out one misery with another

Evening out one misery with another

How easy it is, isn’t it? Let’s pit one evil against another. Let’s have the sorrows duke it out against each other. Let’s even out our miseries with each other. Yours is false, mine is true. A negative negates a positive, so we can conclude that nobody has massacred anyone else in the land of the living. 

Before arriving in Taksim, I passed by billboards put up here days before, saying: “Don’t believe in the Armenian lie.” Roads leading to the square were packed with double-parked buses. As a matter of fact, bus photos had been posted on the Facebook page of the rally since 8 a.m.; buses coming from different cities were saluted. 

The statue was covered with posters full of Turkish spelling mistakes crying out the power of the Turk. There was no correct version of the tricky Turkish suffix “de, da,” [one meaning “also,” “too;” the other “in,” “inside”] for example. 

The flags were Turkish and Azeri – smaller ones sold for 10 Turkish Liras, big ones for 15. At one instance, a warning was announced through a megaphone not to buy the wrong Azeri flag; the green needed to be on the top. Another warned the megaphone guy: “And also, it is not Azeri; it is another Turk. Let’s not have the partition of Turks here.” Then he showed the grey wolf [political symbol of extreme nationalists] on his scarf: “This is what matters.” 

How can I explain the full hour in which I was stuck at the entrance of Tokatlıyan Han [A building on İstiklal Avenue leading to Taksim]? After hearing those voices coming from below and the grey wolf gesture reaching toward the sky, after seeing the eyes of those shouting, “We are all Ogün Samast” [the convicted murderer of Hrant Dink], who can make me believe that those present there were genuinely grieving for the Khojaly Massacre victims?

Are the 20-year-old Asenas [believed to be the name of a female wolf in Turkish mythology] giggling and hugging each other as they pose with posters written “You are all Armenians, you are all bastards” in their hands, or are those who shout “Grey wolves are here, where are the Hrants?” sincerely demanding that genocides should not be repeated? Do these people demand justice? Are they the ones who demand peace, those shouting “revenge” under the flag of this and that peace association? 

At first, I thought I should not report about all the racist slogans seen on the placards. After all, this was what they wanted, and I should not publicize their views. That’s what I thought. But, no. This gathering should go down in history with these slogans, as a rally that was announced with posters all around the city and then with full-page ads in all newspapers (including Radikal) – placed with whatever kind of capital there was – as an event where the Metropolitan Municipality was thanked on the rally’s Facebook page and as a gathering where Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin delivered a speech. 

The identical round placards which were trademarks of Hrant Dink gatherings have been reproduced. In variety: “We are all Turks, We are all from Khojaly, We are all Mehmet.” In one of them it said, “It was blood flowing in Khojaly, you all kept quiet; You were either French, Armenian or Russian anyway.” The slogan “The murderer of Khojaly [is] the savage Armenian” was interrupted with “God is great” chants in Arabic, and after that came “You are invaders, you are murderers, you are all Armenians.” 

What else? “Those tailoring the Turk’s death shroud will find their own terrible death. Since you are Armenians, you have to answer for Khojaly. The Turkish army is the fear of the Armenian. [The fact that] those who cannot regard this atrocity with humanitarian consciousness [the Turkish word “vicdan” was misspelled as “vijdan”] are all Armenians is because of their bestialities.” 

There were thousands who attribute the massacre to a nation, who assume that an Armenian will not feel sorry for the atrocity experienced at Khojaly, who think they can solve everything by placing one genocide against the other. 

Around the same time, a small group marched with posters on Yüksel Street in Ankara. Nobody was behind them; they were Azerbaijanis who were able to make their voices heard from Facebook. 

The statement they made as the “Turkey Platform of Socialist Azerbaijanis” should be recorded in history: “We reject the suggestion ‘We are all Azeris’ that was brought up to weaken and invalidate the slogan ‘We are all Armenians,’ which was expressed with pain and anger after Hrant Dink’s murder, in a context meaning solidarity with the Armenian minority in Turkey. To take part in this game, to tolerate how the Khojaly Massacre has become a political tool for these circles, is, first and foremost, an example of disrespect to the memory of those people brutally murdered in the Khojaly Massacre; it is indifference against the grief of those from Khojaly. We reject being both an actor in this game and a viewer. Long live the brotherhood of the peoples.” 

Note Feb. 26 somewhere. We will see where this hate discourse will lead us, with its path that has been “officially” opened, and with the platform it has found for itself. Yet no suffering disappears because of another’s suffering. 


Pınar Öğünç is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece was published Feb 27. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.

Sumgait, Armenian genocide, racism, protest,