Uncle Anton lived in the ruins of the historical Surp Giragos church in Diyarbakır, Suriçi. It was many years ago. I was doing a news program for Kanal D. It was before the 1994 local elections. Some walls of the church had remained; however, its floor was full of holes. I was wondered about them; people had been digging for treasure.
The governor of Diyarbakir during the 1915 Armenian Deportation was cruel. He was known for the murder of Lice District Governor Hüseyin Nesimi, who was against the ill-treatment of Armenians. While being deported, the Armenians either left their valuables with their neighbours or buried them, thinking they would come back later.
It was said that those who wanted to find these burials made the pits in the middle of the church. Afterwards, we toured Suriçi, Mardin and Urfa with Hrant Dink, Mıgırdıç Margosyan, and Oşin Çilingir. Mıgırdıç and I went to see the tomb of the district governor. Hrant Dink introduced me to Uncle Anton.
During the solution process, Diyarbakir was revived. Historic walls were restored. Churches were repaired. Surp Giragos Church was restored, coming close to its former glory.
We should not forget the efforts of the then Diyarbakır Mayor, Osman Baydemir, in the renewal of the churches and the creation of a democratic environment. Unfortunately, a series of disasters soon followed. After the 2015 elections, the PKK declared “Self-Government” in the cities and towns where HDP received the most votes. It thought that it would impose its rule by creating ditches and barricades.
It was a bloody period. While the security forces lost their most valuable personnel, hundreds of young people who were given guns lost their lives there. Diyarbakir Bar Association Chairman Tahir Elçi died from a bullet that hit him in the head while trying to protect the four-legged minaret in this conflicted environment. The historical region of Suriçi was burned and destroyed. After a certain repair period, Suriçi was reopened.
Now I am in Diyarbakir. The ancient city has always played a role in Turkey’s destiny. I will participate in the event titled “Mapping the Dividends of Peace in Turkey: Shared Economic Interests as the Base for Peace,” organized by the Democratic Progress Institute (DPI) together with the Diyarbakır Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
I will go around Suriçi. I will commemorate Diyarbakır Hançepek Mıgırdiç Margosyan, Oşin Çilingir, Hrant Dink and Uncle Anton. I missed Diyarbakır.
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