Difference between revisions of "Fethiye Cetin"

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==External links==
==External links==
*[http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/world/europe/06iht-turkey.html?ref=global-home&pagewanted=all New York Times article]
*[http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/world/europe/06iht-turkey.html?ref=global-home&pagewanted=all New York Times article]
* https://westarmgen.weebly.com/palu
[[Category:Armenian Individuals|Cetin, Fethiye]]
[[Category:Armenian Individuals|Cetin, Fethiye]]

Latest revision as of 05:31, 15 October 2018

In Turkish, Fethiye Cetin is written Fethiye Çetin and pronounced Chetin.

Published the book My Grandmother, about discovering her grandmother was Armenian.

BÝA, Turkey
Nov 18 2005

My Grandmother Heranus

During the 1915 Armenian deportation, Mrs. Heranus was forcibly taken away from her mother by soldiers. Her name was changed to "Seher," she was brought up as a Muslim girl, married, had children. Her grandchild Cetin wrote a book ttled "My grandmother".

BIA News Center

BÝA (Istanbul) - Fethiye Cetin, who was the former spokeswoman of the Minorities Commission of the Istanbul Bar Association, tells of being the granddaughter of an Armenian grandmother who was converted to Islam, in her book called "My Grandmother."

She tells of her grandmother, who was the Armenian Mrs. Heranus from the Habab village of the Palu district (then called Maden) of the eastern province of Elazig...

Heranus was forcibly taken away from her mother during the 1915 Armenian deportation. Her name was changed to "Seher," she was brought up as a Muslim girl, got married, had children and grandchildren.

She lived for 95 years without seeing her family, brothers and cousins, who lived in the United States, but never lost hope. She was born an Armenian and was buried after a Muslim ceremony.

Fethiye Cetin did not know for years that her grandmother was born an Armenian. It was after many years that she found out the meaning of the "you've taken after us" phrase.

It was after many years that Cetin understood the meaning of the tea breads offered during visits to friends' houses, and the advice that she should not be scared of cemeteries but of the living instead. And the fact that it is a family characteristic that the back of her head sweats...

Lawyer Fethiye Cetin tells of her grandmother in her book. But this life is the story of one of those "sword leftover" children. Tens of whom I know I, and thousands of whom I know exist.

Cetin explains the expression "sword leftover" on page 79 of her book." During another of our meetings, Hasan told me that people like me and my grandmother were called 'sword leftovers.' That people said, 'He's a sword leftover too,' when speaking of someone like us."

"I felt like my blood was freezing up. I had heard of this expression before. But it hurt so much to find out that this expression was being used so cool-bloodedly for people like my grandmother. My optimism, which was formed with memories of tea breads, turned into a pessimism."

"Seyfo" is the word Assyrians use to define the emigration which led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people. The meaning of "seyfo" is a "sword." It cannot be a coincidence that the same word "sword" has been chosen.

There could not be a distinction between Armenians and Assyrians at the time, while even today, the sectarian or even religious differences of non-Muslims cannot be known. For that reason, the emigration had included the Assyrian "giaours" as well as the Armenians.

Cetin also wrote in her book about how she found her relatives after her grandmother died. In the Armenian Agos newspaper published on February 11, 2000, she wrote her grandmother's real name in her obituary, her birthplace, the names of her parents and what she lived through. She wrote that she was looking for her relatives with the last name of "Gadaryan."

"We are hoping to find our relatives through this announcement. Those relatives that we could not find during her lifetime. We are hoping to share our pain and want those days to go away and never come back."

The announcement was taken up in a critical way by the "Harac" newspaper in France. Archbishop Mesrob Asciyan, who himself happened to be from the village of Habab and a relative of the Gadaryans, notified the family members.

That's how the two grandchildren began writing to each other. Cetin went to the United States and met her grandmother's sister and her own cousins. She visited the tombs of her great-grandparents. On the cover of her book is the photograph of the tombs of the parents of her grandmother.

One of the reasons this book is important is that it is one of the very few books told by someone that lived through the emigration.

Besides the fact that very few of those people who lived through the emigration are alive, the fact that they avoid talking about it leaves the issue in the dark. Also, the stories of those who talk about what they lived through was never published in Turkish until recently.

Others should also tell of and write about what they've been through... So that the wound is scratched open and the puss within is dripped out.... (YK/NM/EA/YE)

  • My Grandmother, Fethiye Cetin. Metis Edebiyat Publishing House, 116

pages, 6 million 500 thousand Turkish liras (USD 4.5).


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Robert Fisk's World: A voice recovered from Armenia's bitter past
The Independent

Saturday, 23 August 2008

It's a tiny book, only 116 pages long, but it contains a monumental truth, another sign that one and a half million dead Armenians will not go away. It's called My Grandmother: a Memoir and it's written by Fethiye Cetin and it opens up graves. For when she was growing up in the Turkish town of Marden, Fethiye's grandmother Seher was known as a respected Muslim housewife. It wasn't true. She was a Christian Armenian and her real name was Heranus. We all know that the modern Turkish state will not acknowledge the 1915 Armenian Holocaust, but this humble book may help to change that. Because an estimated two million Turks – alive in Turkey today – had an Armenian grandparent.

As children they were put on the death marches south to the Syrian desert but – kidnapped by brigands, sheltered by brave Muslim villagers (whose own courage also, of course, cannot be acknowledged by Turkey) or simply torn from their dying mothers – later became citizens of the modern Turkey which Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was to set up. Yet as Maureen Freely states in her excellent preface, four generations of Turkish schoolchildren simply do not know Ottoman Anatolia was between a quarter and a half Christian.

Heranus – whose face stares out at the reader from beneath her Muslim headscarf – was seized by a Turkish gendarme, who sped off on horseback after lashing her mother with a whip. Even when she died of old age, Fethiye tried to record the names of Heranus's Armenian parents – Isguhi and Hovannes – but was ignored by the mosque authorities. It was Heranus, with her razor-sharp memory, who taught Fethiye of her family's fate and this book does record in terrible detail the now familiar saga of mass cruelty, of rape and butchery.

In one town, the Turkish police separated husbands, sons and old men from their families and locked the women and children into a courtyard with high walls. From outside came blood-curdling shrieks. As Fethiye records, "Heranus and her brothers clung to their mother's skirts, but though she was terrified, she was desperate to know what was going on. Seeing that another girl had climbed on to someone's shoulders to see over the wall, she went to her side. The girl was still looking over the wall; when, after a very long while, she came down again, she said what she had seen. All her life, Heranus would never forget what came from this girl's lip: 'They're cutting the men's throats, and throwing them into the river.'"

Fethiye says she wrote her grandmother's story to "reconcile us with our history; but also to reconcile us with ourselves" which, as Freely writes, cuts right through the bitter politics of genocide recognition and denial. Of course, Ataturk's decision to move from Arabic to Latin script also means that vital Ottoman documents recalling the genocide cannot be consulted by most modern-day Turks. At about the same time, it's interesting to note, Stalin was performing a similarly cultural murder in Tajikistan where he moved the largely Persian language from Arabic to Cyrillic.

And so history faded away. And I am indebted to Cosette Avakian, who sent me Fethiye's book and who is herself the granddaughter of Armenian survivors and who brings me news of another memorial of Armenians, this time in Wales. Wales, you may ask? And when I add that this particular memorial – a handsome Armenian cross embedded in stone – was vandalised on Holocaust Memorial Day last January, you may also be amazed. And I'm not surprised because not a single national paper reported this outrage. Had it been a Jewish Holocaust memorial stone that was desecrated, it would – quite rightly – have been recorded in our national newspapers. But Armenians don't count.

As a Welsh Armenian said on the day, "This is our holiest shrine. Our grandparents who perished in the genocide do not have marked graves. This is where we remember them." No one knows who destroyed the stone: a request for condemnation by the Turkish embassy in London went, of course, unheeded, while in Liverpool on Holocaust Day, the Armenians were not even mentioned in the service.

Can this never end? Fethiye's wonderful book may reopen the past, but it is a bleak moment to record that when the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was prosecuted for insulting "Turkishness", Fethiye defended him in court. Little good it did Dink. He was murdered in January last year, his alleged killer later posing arrogantly for a picture next to the two policemen who were supposed to be holding him prisoner. It was in Dink's newspaper Agos that Fethiye was to publish her grandmother's death notice. This was how Heranus's Armenian sister in America came to read of her death. For Heranus's mother survived the death marches to remarry and live in New York.

Wales, the United States, even Ethiopia, where Cosette Avakian's family eventually settled, it seems that every nation in the world is home to the Armenians. But can Turkey ever be reconciled with its own Armenian community, which was Hrant Dink's aim? When Fethiye found her Aunt Marge in the US – this was Heranus' sister, of course, by her mother's second marriage – she tried to remember a song that Heranus sang as a child. It began with the words "A sad shepherd on the mountain/Played a song of love..." and Marge eventually found two Armenian church choir members who could put the words together.

"My mother never missed the village dances," Marge remembered. "She loved to dance. But after her ordeal, she never danced again." And now even when the Welsh memorial stone that stands for her pain and sorrow was smashed, the British Government could not bring itself to comment. As a member of the Welsh Armenian community said at the time, "We shall repair the cross again and again, no matter how often it is desecrated." And who, I wonder, will be wielding the hammer to smash it next time?

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