Posted in Azad-Hye Yahoo Group on 24 May 2003
This is an extraordinary Journey to historical Armenia made by Rudy Breuggeman. The story was published in October 2002.
It starts from a suburb on the European side of Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, where Rudy visits “Talaat Pasha Memorial“, one of the three principal architects of the 20th century's first genocide.
The memorial marked the first of more than two dozen places Rudy photographed in Turkey, to document historic evidence of the attempted extermination of the Armenian people in the early 1900s.
Rudy says: “My pictures hopefully would tell a little-known story of enormous human evil. At another level, I hoped they would provide additional evidence against what my Armenian journalist friend called the big lie, or Turkey's denial that Armenians were victims of a government-run, systematic mass murder”.
Rudy stayed three weeks in Anatolia, during which he moved around without revealing his real name and mission in mind. He mostly claimed to ba a Canadian tourist.
Some of the loctions like the above mentioned place needed extra precaution from his side. Rudy says: “My tourist cover would not work here, at this memorial in a working-class Istanbul neighborhood that never saw Westerners. To find the location, I gambled and recruited a stranger, Hozan. My project required taking this risk because the monument celebrated the so-called Young Turks, or Ittihadists (members of the Committee of Union and Progress), the masterminds of the Ottoman Empire's anti-Armenian policy”.
Rudy provides the reader with a narration of the events that lead to the Armenian Genocide. He says: “The Ittihadists' solution to the Armenian problem was to arrest prominent Armenian intellectuals, imprison all men of fighting age, round-up entire villages, and then forcibly march defenseless civilians to the desert of Syria”.
After giving detailed description of the memorials dedicated to all three main Young-Turk leaders who organized the Armenian Genocide, Rudy talks about modern day Turkey saying: “In Turkey, even mentioning the genocide is grounds for arrest. In October 2000, the government arrested a Syrian Orthodox priest who merely referred to the Armenian genocide. The cleric was charged with inciting religious, racial and sectarian hatred for his statements to the press” (Azad-Hye note: Since 2002, lot of changes have taken place, but the main issue of Genocide denial still continues).
After visiting many locations in Western Armenia and taking photos related to the historical presence of the Armenians there, Rudy eventually takes the Turkish coastal ride and moves to Greece through one of the ferry-boat lines. He writes the following lines the moment he was leaving the country:
“On the small ferry I finally began to unwind the many knots I had been tying inside for three weeks. Researching mass murder, even events more than 80 years old, is not a comfortable task. It hangs over you like the smell of dirty clothes. It occupies your thoughts, and shades how you see a landscape, a country, and a people. It's as if you have a silent partner, whispering to you when you begin to enjoy yourself and forget why you had come this place and what you were supposed to be doing there. I was ready to leave that all behind, at the docks of Kusadasi, but I feared I could never think about Turkey without the noises I had been hearing in my head”.
Source: Rudy Brueggemann. October 2002
Read the whole journey here: http://www.rudyfoto.com/armeniastory.html