Turks recall escaping from Armenian oppression

All residents in Tasburun village in eastern Igdir province have fled Armenia in 1930s

Turks recall escaping from Armenian oppression

By Huseyin Yildiz and Muhammet Mutaf

IGDIR, Turkey

Currently living in Tasburun, a Turkish village near Armenia, Turks who fled from Armenia recalled painful days.

A resident in the village, Tanriverdi Eyrice, in his late eighties, has told Anadolu Agency that his and others' ancestors had first traveled to Iran before returning to Armenia after failing to find a steady life.

"When the communist system in Armenia seized all the villagers' goods, bovines and sheep, they went to Tasburun with [Mustafa Kemal] Ataturk's permission in one night," Eyrice says.

Eyrice said that all residents in the Igdir village come from Yerevan.

Turkish academic Erol Kurkcuoglu, who studies Turkish-Armenian relations at Ataturk University in the eastern province of Erzurum, said that in the beginning of the 20th century, Yerevan and the surrounding lands were populated by Turkish Muslims. However, Armenian and Russian policies forced Turks to leave.

"Studies in 1814 are showing that 84 percent of local residents in Yerevan were Muslims, the 14 percent of residents were non-Muslims and Armenians," Kurkcuoglu said.

He added that Russian commanders who came to the region at the time reported in their records that the city of Yerevan was an Ottoman city and in the 1830s Armenians, who were brought from Russia and Iran, started to be settled in Yerevan.

Kurkcuoglu added that today's Armenian capital was part of Turkish land in the past.

The head of a Turkish association contesting Armenian claims (ASIMDER) Goksel Gulbey said Turks had to migrate because of Armenian pressures.

Gulbey said that in the 1930s Muslim Turks sought shelter in Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey after fleeing from their homes in Armenia because of Armenian tortures backed by Russia.

He stated that during this migration, hundreds drowned in Aras River, which flows into the Caspian Sea, or were shot to death in the back by Armenians.

Gulbey said Turkish houses, mosques and cemeteries in Armenia were also demolished.

He added that the world ignored Armenian cruelty against at least one million Muslim Turks and 50,000 Muslim Kurds.

Turkey's position is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1915 took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.

Turkey denies the alleged Armenian “genocide” of 1915, but acknowledges that there were casualties on both sides during the events during World War I.

Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as "genocide" but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.

Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to tackle the issue.

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