ANKARA: Questions come to me on Akdamar Island

New Anatolian, Turkey
March 10 2006

Questions come to me on Akdamar Island

Nursun Erel

[email protected]

After the bombing, after being witness to all that tragedy, I decided
to go to Akdamar Island because for years I’ve been dreaming of
seeing the Armenian church built on its shores. I know what that
small island means to Armenians, I still have the cognac bottle
(Ahdamar cognac) which was given to me as a present in Yerevan by an
Armenian family.

Even though it was raining heavily, Ceren Bayar and I didn’t change
our plans to take the boat from Gevas Harbor and go to the island.
Lake Van was calm yesterday so it took us only 20 minutes to get to
there. When we got closer we had a better view of the church; it was
really breathtaking to see the ancient building that’s survived
almost 10 centuries.

The first thing I noticed in front of the magnificent church,
undergoing renovations, was a sign saying, “Between A.D. 915 and 921
this church was built by architect Kesis Manauel.”

Then I asked myself, after all these centuries, after dozens of
civilizations, why can we still not share the soil of Anatolia?

What are all these deaths for?

What’s the reason for the endless agony?

What’s the basis for such hatred?

I couldn’t answer these questions, and instead added another: After
the release of the prosecutor’s indictment, what do we have in our
hands now?

Everyone knows that Gen. Buyukanit is far from all these allegations.
But isn’t it stupid to add this kind of statement to the indictment:
“He [Buyukanit] threw an incredibly expensive wedding for his
daughter and invited a host of businessmen to the ceremony. We all
attended and brought her gold bracelets as presents” (testimony of
businessman Mehmet Ali Altindag, also the owner of daily Soz in

In what way does this paragraph contribute to resolving the issue?

But what can we say about the General Staff’s approach, then? They
tried to curb the debates saying that the civil judiciary has nothing
to do with Buyukanit’s case. But I’m sure Buyukanit would rather be
acquitted than protected.

What are we supposed to think about Justice Minister Cemil Cicek’s
response? First he said he didn’t have jurisdiction over the legal
proceedings and then, the next day, he sent two inspectors to
investigate Van Chief Public Prosecutor Ferhat Sarikaya. After this,
can we ever believe that the Turkish judiciary is really independent?

And remember all the other shallow arguments too. Some say that the
parliamentary commission on the Semdinli case doesn’t have the right
to send any of its reports to the prosecutor in the Semdinli case
(Sarikaya). But I’d like to ask them why such commissions are
necessary if they keep their reports confidential.

I can’t answer these questions, but I’m still searching for a serious
government to deal with such issues.

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