ARE THE ARMENIANS IN TURKEY OPPRESSED AT PRESENT?
Armenian nationalist propagandists from time to time claim that the Armenians of Turkey are being persecuted. This is done, not only to reinforce their claims that the Turks persecuted Armenians throughout history, but also to provide a unifying bond for Armenian action groups and to get foreign states to intervene in Turkish internal affairs. Like the other Armenian claims, this also is not based on fact.
The 40,000 - 50,000 Armenians living in Turkey today are in no way separated from the remainder of the population. They are full Turkish citizens, with the same rights and privileges as other Turkish citizens, with their lives, liberties and happiness guaranteed by law.
The Armenians of Turkey continue to worship in their own churches and teach in their own language in their own schools. They publish newspapers, books and magazines in Armenian and have their own social and cultural institutions in addition to participating fully in those open to all Turks. The Armenian community in Istanbul has 30 schools, 17 cultural and social organizations, two daily newspapers called Jamanak and Marmara, two sports clubs, named Shishly (ªisli) and Taksim, and many health establishments as well as numerous religious foundations set up to support these activities.
Most of the Turkish Armenians continue to be Gregorian, and are led by a Patriarch. In addition there are a number of Catholic and Protestant Armenians who have their own churches and other institutions.
The Armenians of Turkey are as free to live prosperous and happy lives as are Turks of other religions. Many of them are prosperous merchants as well as leading members of the arts and professions. The Armenians of Turkey are proud to be Turkish citizens and, along with all other Turks, deeply resent the lies about their country spread in their name by outside Armenian nationalists. In particular they abhorred the terrorist attacks carried out by these groups on Turkish diplomats, citizens; and interests throughout the world.
On November 1st 1981 the Armenian Patriarch held a memorial service at the Patriarchate to commemorate the Turkish diplomats slaughtered by Armenian terrorists and to condemn these acts done in the name of the Armenian people. In February 1982 the Patriarch vigorously denied the claims made by the Council of Europe that Turkey is oppressing its minorities, stating "The Armenians of Turkey are Turkish citizens, they live in peace in Turkey, they practice their religion freely and benefit from the freedom of belief." Following the Armenian terrorist assassination of Turkish Consul-General Kemal Ankan in Los Angeles on 28 January, 1982, the Armenian Patriarch stated "The Turkish Armenians, like all other Turkish citizens, learned of this with great sorrow", and appealed for "all Armenians living outside Turkey to rise up against these illegal activities and murders." Turkish Armenians themselves thus put the lie to the claims of the Armenian propagandists.