УДК 070

Armenian periodicals of Turkey

Мкртчян Донара Сережаевна – кандидат филологических наук, старший преподаватель кафедры Центральной Азии и Кавказа Санкт-Петербургского государственного университета.

Abstract: Based on the materials of the National Archives of Armenia, the content and main direction of the Armenian periodical press in Turkey are evaluated. Most of the periodicals describe the situation in Turkey as well as the socio-political life. Moreover, they cover the fate of Armenians in Turkey, and the education issues of the western Armenian province. Firstly, the publications of Western Armenian newspapers cover the policy of the authorities aimed at expelling Armenians from their country. They also describe the life of Western Armenians through an educational and cultural awakening. The article therefore concentrates on the study of Armenian periodicals in Turkey.

Аннотация: На основе материалов Национального архива Армении оцениваются содержание и основная направленность армянской периодической печати в Турции. Большинство периодических изданий описывают положение в Турции, а также общественно-политическую жизнь. Более того, они освещают и судьбу армян в Турции, и вопросы образования западноармянской провинции. Во-первых, публикации западноармянских газет освещают политику властей, направленную на изгнание армян из своей страны. Они также описывают жизнь западных армян, их образовательное и культурное пробуждение.

Keywords: periodicals, newspapers, propaganda, genocide, Western Armenia, Turkey.

Ключевые слова: периодика, газеты, пропаганда, геноцид, Западная Армения, Турция.

The role and importance of the press is very great in all of our lives. It is especially important when freedom of speech and thought prevails in that field. The public is informed about its rights and current events, and if there is freedom of speech, it is free to express its concern about any issue.

Its main mission is to ensure justice and objectivity. Particularly important is the role of the press in the diaspora, which is a necessary means of preserving and disseminating the language. When looking for information about the press on the Internet, especially about the Armenian press worldwide, you can find that Armenian periodicals are published in France, Australia, India, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Greece, Bulgaria and, of course, Turkey. There were a lot of Armenian intellectuals in Turkey who became the founders of various periodicals that survived to this day.

The Western Armenian press forms part of the history of the Armenian press. Many Armenian literary figures have lived and created in Turkey: Mkrtich Beshiktashlian, Petros Duryan, Misak Metsarents, Hakob Paronyan, Yervand Otyan, Grigor Zohrap, Siamanto, Daniel Varuzhan, Ruben Sevak and others. A large number of them were victims of the Great Genocide. (Nalbandian, 1975)

Prior to the 1915 Armenian genocide, there were 251 Armenian periodicals in Turkey. After April 24, 1915, their number began to decrease sharply.

I would like to bring to your attention certain Armenian periodicals operating in Turkey.

In the early 19th century, geopolitical circumstances unfavourable to Ottoman Turkey led to the weakening and collapse of the empire. The diplomatic relations established between the powerful European states and Russia have made Turkey dependent on these countries in the East, each pursuing its own economic and political interests. Ottoman Armenians were quite enthusiastic about the idea of reforms or Tanzimat. Members of the intelligentsia, imbued with Western Armenian democratic and enlightened ideas, were concentrated in Constantinople, the capital of Ottoman Turkey. They have tried to gain national autonomy and to improve the social and economic conditions of Western Armenians by enlightening and educating Western Armenians to the limits of the possibilities offered by Turkey and the national Constitutions. They considered the establishment of an Armenian periodical press to be the first step in this process, using their right authorized by Tanzimat. The newspaper "Lro Gir" or "Lro Gir of the Great Ottoman Empire" was published in 1832-1850, initially as a translated version of the first Turkish newspaper "Tagvimi Vagayi" ("Series of Cases"), founded in 1831 in Constantinople, then as an independent periodical. The Armenian version of "Tagvimi Vagai" was created thanks to the efforts of translator-reporter Gevorg Grigoryan and priest Husik.

From 1846 Galust Arapyan was the publisher of "Lro Gri". G. Arapyan attempted to demonstrate the relations and disagreements between Polish Armenian life and the different strata and classes of Armenian society. All research was carried out within the framework of freedom of speech allowed for periodicals in Ottoman Turkey. However, the newspaper ceased publication in 1850.

“Hayastan” newspaper was published in Constantinople in 1846-1852. It was the official paper of the Western Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. It presented the decisions and orders of the Patriarchate, news and analysis on the transition of national internal life. The paper was originally edited by Hovhannes Chamurchyan and Mkrtich Aghaton. From 1846 to 1848, "Hayastan" was edited by Hovhannes Chamurchyan (Ter-Karapetyan Teroyents). Between 1848 and 1850 the editor of the paper was M. Agathon. In 1850, from February 6th to January 21st, 1852, H. Chamurchyan resumed the direction of "Hayastan". The social and political opinions of the publishers of "Hayastan" have had a decisive influence on the direction and objectives of the paper. Hovhannes Chamurchyan spoke in favour of maintaining the socio-political situation in Turkey. In contrast, M. Aghaton believed in a constitutional monarchy. He was opposed to radical revolutions, though he was supportive of the defenders of the national liberation movement.
H. Chamurchyan was extreme in his views, particularly when debating religious and moral issues. In public articles, he argued with representatives of the Western Armenian Liberal Democratic movement.

"Hayastan" has more or less demonstrated the Western Armenian reality, the problems encountered by the people of the province itself, its daily life, its educational and cultural life. Entitled "National", the paper covered the activities of the National Assembly and other national structures, and the manifestations of the Catholic-Enlightenment conflict that concerned Western Armenians in that period. He condemned the subjugation and excessive dependence of the national structures on the Turkish authorities, as well as their internal fear of the State's anti-Armenian policy, and the "Tanzimat" in the province, for not implementing reforms, for not speaking up and not fighting against it.

"Arevelq" daily newspaper was published in 1884-1896 and 1898-1912. The licensee was Stepan Tamatyan. It had several editors: Byuzand Kechyan, Levon Bashalyan, Z. Yusufyan, Vahan Tekeyan. In 1911, the newspaper was named "Lusin", "Paykar", "Lraber" and "Chezok".

In the "Arevelq" there was a distinction between ideological views and principles. This was manifested even in the division of the paper's structural and thematic preferences. Liberal (B. Kechian and his supporters) and Democrat (Arpiaryan and his ideologues) approaches were intertwined in the demand for a joint search for ways to change public mores and resolve issues of economic progress or development. There was a variety of approaches to outstanding national issues.

"Arevelq" emphasized the role of schools in terms of national education in the mother tongue, Armenian upbringing, physical education and crafts. The paper brought up the educational problems of the Western Armenian province. Such as unified educational programmes, new textbooks and modern teaching methods, professional training of teachers and their socio-economic issues.

In 1894-1896 B. Kechyan avoided talking about the pogroms and massacres of Western Armenians in "Arevelq". He portrayed all of this as news made out of Turkish newspapers. The Turkish censorship, however, closed "Arevelq" for nearly 2 years (from the fall of 1896 to 1898). Between 1898 and 1912 "Arevelq" continues to be published again as a conservative periodical.

According to "Arevelq", the root causes of the Armenian question are cruel national and religious oppression, the constant threat of annihilation of the Armenians. It condemns the Adana massacre in 1909 and acknowledges the participation of the Young Turks in the massacre. There were debates with the Turkish press, outlining the government's double-faced policy concerning emigration and the return of the Cilician Armenians. "Arevelq" advocated the joint actions of the Armenian political parties to publish the position of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation regarding the Ottoman parliamentary elections, and the circulars of the responsible body of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in Constantinople, and materials covering the activities of the Hunchakians. (Mamuryan, 1871-1909)

After the Adana massacre (1909), Western Armenian periodicals focused on the discovery of the motives and organizers of the incident, the non-punishment of the perpetrators and related issues. They began to understand the intentions of the Ittihat government towards the fate of Armenians. On the pages of the Armenian press, there are harsh assessments of the pro-Armenian policy planned by successive Turkish authorities. Western Armenian periodicals address the Armenian question and the issue of conducting the Reforms, and the related international discussions. Also, questions such as the neutralisation of the Armenian element in the political life of the country, and the Turkish desire to silence the voice of Western Armenians in the Ottoman parliamentary elections. The publications of the Western Armenian periodicals of 1914-1915 suggest that the authorities continued their policy of expelling Armenians from their country. But on the other hand, Western Armenians, experiencing an educational and cultural awakening, could not evaluate the situation with sobriety, and choose the true way of national salvation at the hands of the leading figures of their political parties and national structures.

"Byuzandion" was published during this fateful period (1896-1914). Its editors were Byuzand and Paruyr Kechyan, followed by Arshak Alpoyachyan. "Byuzandion" was a periodical with national, literary and scientific content. Famous Armenian intellectuals were featured in the magazine's pages.

After the massacre of Western Armenians initiated by Abdul Hamid in
1894 -1896, until the 1900s, "Byuzandion" dealt with the fate of Armenians who emigrated from their homeland or were exiled. Also, issues related to their return and future, restoration and regularization of work of national structures and bodies, improvement of national educational centres and keeping Armenians in their homeland were disclosed. Furthermore, there were questions and proposals concerning the reforms in Western Armenia. "Byuzandion" considered the Armenian Church and the Patriarchate to be a national coordinating body.
It defended the actions and leadership of Patriarch Malachia Ormanian.

"Byuzandion" did not raise the issues of the autonomy of Western Armenia or the intervention of foreign states in the Armenian question. But was satisfied with the request for the implementation of the 1878 Berlin Assembly and the 1895 reform agenda in Western Armenia.

On June 10 (23), 1909, "Azatamart", the official newspaper of the Western Bureau of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), began to be published in Constantinople, the last issue of which, number 1815, was confiscated on April 11 (24), 1915. The licensee, responsible director and editor of "Azatamart" was the well-known Western Armenian public and political figure, novelist Ruben Zardaryan. During these years, the Western Bureau of the ARF acted wisely by selecting R. Zardaryan as editor of "Azatamart". Because primarily thanks to him, it did not turn into a narrow party paper.

The "Azatamart" pages contain both international information and events unfolding in the lives of the Armenians. “In a letter, the Armenian Patriarchate asked the International Commission to place 3,000 pieces of gold at the disposal of the governor of Adana for the construction of the Adana orphanage. The commission refused to pay this amount, arguing that the chest was in poor condition.”(Ազատամարտ», 1909)

The best of the Armenian intelligentsia was published on the pages of "Azatamart". Among them are Gr. Zohrap, D. Varuzhian, Siamanton, Av. Isahakyan, R. Sevak, A. Aharonyan, Z. Yesayan, G. Ter-Karapetyan, G. Khajak, A. Vramyan, M. Kyurchyan, M. Varandyan, L. Shant. The daily contributed to the development of indigenous literature and brought Armenian script to the most remote corners of Western Armenia, sometimes used as a manual in remote villages.

At midnight on April 24, 1915, the editor, typewriter and doorman working on the latest issue of "Azatamart" (№1815), which has not yet been published, were arrested and imprisoned from the editorial building. The remaining employees of the newspaper (almost all) were arrested in their apartments. Their fate was already predestined to martyrdom with the rest. Zardaryan was also amongst those arrested and tortured. In March 1915, he refused to leave Constantinople abroad to save his life. " Azatamart" hasn't missed any pressing questions. The paper analysed the work of the Ottoman parliament and government, making constructive suggestions, especially concerning the activities of Armenian deputies. It has founded an original school of journalism fighting for freedom, the lessons of which can still be drawn today. Even during the Genocide, after losing the editor and the best part of the staff, the " Azatamart" generation continued the unfinished projects and activities through the "Battle" newspaper of Constantinople (1918-1924). (Հովսեփյան, 2007)

The Russian press also focused on the situation in Turkey during the Armenian Genocide. As socio-political and literary periodicals, the weekly "Armenian Herald" and the review "Armenians and the War" have devoted their pages to Armenian writers and dedicated an important place to translations of traditional and modern literature.

Getting to know the Armenian reality closely and deeply experiencing its tragedy, Russian writers raised their voices in protest for justice contributed to the spread of the truth about the Armenian question and the Great Genocide. Through all their works, the pain and concern for the fate of the Armenian people and the desire to awaken love and compassion for them among their compatriots. The famous Russian literary critic and poet, Armenologist and translator Yuri Veselovsky, was profoundly shocked by the Turkish assassination policy in Western Armenia. Until the Armenian Genocide, the human indignation against the Turkish massacres found expression in his studies "The Situation of Armenians in Turkey" (1895) and "The Tragedy of Turkish Armenia" (1915), where the origin and history of the Armenian question could be traced. Diplomatic relations carried out around them have been studied and discussed in depth. The series of articles "At the Dawn of Russian Armenian Love" by a scholarly publicist, written already in the second year of the Great Genocide, were very valuable.

Yu. Veselovski, in the article “Suffering children”, revealed the tragedy of the Armenian children who fell victim to the policy of genocide. He exposed the Turkish executioners who had elevated the extermination of the Armenian people to the level of state politics and banned the name "Armenia" from use. The Turks did all this under the false slogan "to neutralise the Armenians" in the war. "That usual office opinion," wrote Veselovsky “which Turkey has repeatedly used to remove traces, or get out of dry water when caught in cruelty and illegality was very evident, and Turkish diplomats have failed to confound anyone. Moreover, among the ranks of the "revolutionaries" against which the Turkish government was fighting, there were children under the age of 10. This is confirmed by the testimony of everyone who has not lost their sense of justice and impartiality.

Today's Zaman notes that columnist "Agos" Zakarya Mildanoghlu researched Armenian periodicals published in Ottoman Turkey. The results of the research have been included in the book "History of Armenian Periodicals", which will be published later this year.

A total of 613 Armenian periodicals were published during the history of the Ottoman Empire. The first Armenian books were published by Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire in 1512, about 60 years after the invention of printing. Religious texts were included in those books, the place of publication is Vienna.

Referring to the events of 1915, Mildanoghlu notes that most of the 251 Armenian periodicals have been shut down, as the people working in the newspapers have mostly been killed or evacuated. Armenian print media survived only in Istanbul, Izmir and Adana. Armenian papers suffered another blow as a result of government censorship in the 1950s, after which the number of published newspapers declined again. Today, three periodicals published in Armenian are being printed in Istanbul. (Խառատյան, 2015)

After the period of heavy censorship of Abdulhamid, periodicals of national minorities, including Armenians, also got the opportunity to be more active during the restoration of the constitution.

After 1908, Armenian-language newspapers increased significantly in various Armenian-populated regions of the Ottoman Empire. Until then, the publication of Armenian newspapers was mainly concentrated in Constantinople and Smyrna. And the restoration of the Constitution has led to an increase in the publication of new papers. Armenian newspapers published at the time of Abdulhamid, under strict censorship, did not deal with matters of national interest, which became possible after 1908. Over this period, the satirical press also prospered, in which Yervand Otyan had his unique contribution. During this period, over two dozen periodicals with similar content were published in Constantinople, three in Smyrna, and so on.

As early as 1914-1915 and thereafter, Armenian newspapers were targeted by the Young Turks, who silenced Armenian periodicals and carried out the Armenian genocide. Later, before the end of the First World War, Armenian newspapers were in the worst condition in the Ottoman Empire. After the difficult period of Abdulhamid, the Armenian press was able to develop only for a few years. As a result of the political course of the Young Turks, it again faced the politics of repression and silencing. Today, very few Armenian periodicals are published in Turkey, such as "Marmaran" and "Zhamanak", "Shoghakat", etc., as well as "Agos" weekly newspaper published in Turkish and native languages. Today, very few Armenian periodicals are published in Turkey. Some of them are "Marmaran" and "Zhamanak", "Shoghakat". And "Agos" weekly newspaper which is published in Turkish and Armenian languages.

"Agos" was founded in 1996 by Hrant Dink and a group of his friends to raise public awareness of Armenian problems in Turkey. It is the first newspaper of the republic period, which is published in Turkish and Armenian. "Agos" editorial policy focuses on issues such as democratization, minority rights, reconciliation with the past. As independent journalism and freedom of speech starts facing increasing restrictions in Turkey, "Agos" also acts as an independent platform for debate.

The changes of the period under consideration are naturally reflected in the press, and the complex process of regulating relations between Armenia and Turkey becomes the object of the broadest research. This issue also grows into one of the important topics of "Agos" weekly newspaper around which the journalistic analyzes started later become the basis for the formation of a platform for broad public discussions.

It goes without saying that the periodical was a little different from other Polish-Armenian newspapers in its approach to Armenian-Turkish relations.

In terms of Armenian-Turkish relations, the weekly newspaper and its columnists gave more importance to the relations between the two peoples and societies than the interstate relations between Armenia and Turkey. We read about it in the weekly newspaper "The real solution can be found only by the initiative of the two peoples, the inevitable solution should be sought in the establishment of this relationship. Turkey, considering not establishing diplomatic relations with its immediate neighbour, Armenia, as a diplomatic tact and delaying the initiatives called to start the period of normalization of relations between the two peoples, will always create fear in the international arena with all his initiatives." («Ակոս», թիվ 380)

In 1999, “Agos” weekly newspaper moved to Sebat building. The newspaper's mission was to draw attention and raise awareness about the problems of Armenians and other minorities. Furthermore, the aim was to inform the public about the cultures of Armenians and other minorities, shed light on the past and contribute to the democratisation of Turkey. With articles in Turkish and Armenian, “Agos” quickly developed into an influential media outlet.

On January 19, 2007, Hrant Dink was killed in front of the Sebat building. The paper's current director is Edvard Tandzikyan.

"Zhamanak" is a political and popular daily newspaper in Istanbul. The daily was founded by the brothers Sargis and Misak Gochunyan on October 28, 1908. The current director of the newspaper is Sargis Gochunyan, who bears the name of his grandfather. The editor is Natia Gochunian, and the chief editor is Ara Gochunian. The newspaper is printed every day except Sundays and is distributed in different Turkish districts. The newspaper mainly presents community news, information about Turkey and foreign development. In 2010, the paper celebrated its 100th anniversary with great efforts by Turkey and other countries.

"New Marmara" is a political, public, and literary Armenian daily newspaper, which was created on August 31, 1940 by Suren Shamleyan. Initially, the paper was published every three days, and after a short time it became a daily newspaper. The newspaper's current editor is Roper Hatechyan, who has been in office for 46 years to this day. The deputy director of the newspaper is Ari Hatechyan, and the editor-in-chief is Makruhi P. Hakobyan. The Turkish version of the newspaper is published once a week and is edited by Ari Hatechyan. The newspaper consists of four pages. It works every day except Sunday. Sections of literature and art are highlighted in the journal. Serious reactions are also given to the political and cultural developments of Turkey, Armenia and abroad. The newspaper has been operating on the Internet for ten years. In 2012, there was a celebration of the newspaper's 75th anniversary.

"Shogakat" has a religious, moral, historical, philological and cultural nature. It has been published since 1952. The director of the newspaper was Reverend Sahak Papazyan, and the responsible editor was Garegin Gazanchyan. In the following year of publication of the newspaper, the management was handed over to Khach Dprevank, and the name of the magazine was changed and became “Shogakat Religious and Literary Official Journal”.

In the conclusion, it is important to note that, Armenian periodicals in Turkey published papers not only on the ongoing war and related events. They also provided a wealth of information on the vitality of the Armenian people, their indomitable spirit aimed at communicating the values of modern civilization, as well as notable events happening in the world, in Turkey, scholarly and artistic achievements. Armenian periodicals fulfilled their difficult and responsible role with honor. They contributed to strengthening the faith of the people who experienced the tragedy in the struggle for survival.


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