A Eulogy For


2009/08/05 | 17:16


The following is an obituary written by Ragip Zarakolu, Turkish human
rights activist and publisher, on the occasion of the passing of Sarkis
Cerkezyan (1 May 1916 – 3 August 2009). Socialist militant, poet and
translator. His memoirs, edited by Yasemin Gedik, were published by
Belge Publications under the title "The World is Big Enough for All
of Us". After a funeral mass in Kumkapý St. Mary’s Church on 5 August,
he will be buried in the Balýklý Armenian Graveyard next to his loved
ones. The obituary appeared in today’s issue of bianet news.

Today we physically lost Master Sarkis.

My comrade, my older brother, my friend and master…

But he will always be with us, with his life exemplifying the
principles he espoused, with his erect stance.

A 40-year friendship, that is easily said.

When he was a member of the Eminonu district organisation of the
Turkish Workers’ Party (TÝP), I was a candidate member; I was his

He had started seminars on the theories of socialism in the district.

His main book was Politzer.

When the Aybar leadership tried to prevent it, Master Sarkýs got
anry: He said, "Let the young people learn the history and theory
of socialism."

* Wherever we met, he was always carrying books.

One of them was a 1954 Moscow edition, in Turkish, of the history of
the Soviet Union’s Communist Party.

Year 1868, easily said.

Beloved Ayþe’s junior Mehmet copied the 500-page party history by hand,
like a calligrapher.

Even then his house was a place where young people came together.

* He was not only interested in politics, but also in literature.

He was a carpenter, a labourer, by trade.

He carried the sadness of not having been able to finish Getronagan
Highschool because of poverty.

But with many of his words, he showed more than highschool or
university graduates.

Armenian young people learned Armenian history and literature from him.

And we our own history.

We learned socialism and history from him.

* He knew thousands of poems off by heart.

And he was a poet himself.

He was school friends with Aram Pehlivanyan (A. Saydan).

He was also a poet.

They both wrote in their mother tongue.

* In the darkness of 12 March and 12 September, his home was always
a shelter for young people.

His beloved wife, angel Aðavni fed us often.

A socialist not of theory but of practice, beloved Aðavni.

After the migration wave of the last Varto earthquake, she cooked
for many orphans, she picked nits from many heads.

And as a family, they had to pay for Sarkis’ socialism.

But they brought up two university graduates, two sons, in all those
difficulties. Lazaros and Ohannes.

* Sarkis was one of the few people with the courage to talk about
the events of 1915.

In his 90th year, at the first meeting in Istanbul that talked about
1915, we did a modest interview with him.

Then a window was broken in his house.

A white Renault "accidentally" hit him.

He did not worry.

He did not even tell his friends.

He kept on talking.

He talked about 6-7 September.

He talked about 1915.

To those that asked.

* It was as if he was the people’s memory.

He knew all the old revolutionary marches and folk songs.

When he became emotional, he started singing them.

Especially the song Klikya, Klikyasý, which reflected the pain of 1909.

One time, his nephews came from a part of his family in Beirut,
and they sang folk songs and marches for two hours.

* He was a true internationalist.

That is why he did not like the name of the magazine that came out
in 1968: "Turkish Left".

* Master Sarkýs was a symbol and memorial to resistance.

He was a child of the forced emigration, born in a camp in 1916.

He never forgot.

But he also never turned it into a trauma.

He always flew the flag of freedom, brotherhood and equality, the
red flag.

Sometimes he saddened his family when he prioritised his comrades
and friends.

He was one of the few resistors who did not give up in the March and
September darknesses.

He was a witness of illegality.

* He walked into death with honour.

As if he was on a hunger strike.

In his last days, his body looked like that of the children in the
Der Zor camp, only skin and bones.

He got angry at those who insisted that he eat.

He pushed away their hands with his angry eyes.

He turned his back and looked at the wall, looking into the distance.

Sometimes he stretched his hands out towards his memories, towards
the beloved who had departed before him.

* He was born in defiance of the massacre.

Saying "We existed, we exist, we will exist."

And one day he just said, "Abbas, time is up."

With a peaceful and honourable last glance he bid us farewell.

Just like Ayþe.

* One day he had said to his friends, "Just you see my funeral."

I know already.

* My master, comrade, friend and older brother Sarkis, I will always
carry you inside me.

And I will always miss that smile.

As will we all.