Di­vided Ana­to­lians united at fes­ti­val

Turkish Review - - FESTIVAL -

Ed­vin Mi­nas­sian is chair­man of the board of trus­tees of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Istanbul Ar­me­ni­ans. Mi­nas­sian, also chair­man of the Ar­me­nian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, was born in İstanbul. He is a grad­u­ate of Şişli’s 19 Mayıs Pri­mary School and the Sankt Ge­org Aus­trian School. He has been a res­i­dent of Los An­ge­les since the age of 17. His fa­ther is Ar­me­nian and his mother Assyr­ian. Mi­nas­sian, who says he also has Greek ori­gins on his fa­ther’s side, claims to be a syn­the­sis of the non-Mus­lim groups in Turkey. The tur­moil of the Sept. 12 era, he says, played a part in his re­lo­ca­tion to the US. In­deed, he left the coun­try a few months after the mil­i­tary coup in 1980. Mi­nas­sian notes that there are at least four gen­er­a­tions of Ar­me­ni­ans cur­rently liv­ing in the US: “There are some Ar­me­ni­ans here who are not at all happy with my in­ter­ac­tions with the Turks. But we grew up in Turkey and there­fore have a very dif­fer­ent view on the mat­ter. Oth­ers have only the hor­ror sto­ries about Turkey told them by their grand­fa­thers and great grand­moth­ers as they were grow­ing up. All they have are the sto­ries they were told in the past.”

Mi­nas­sian, who ap­plauds the fes­ti­val as a “mag­nif­i­cent event,” adds, “I’ve been liv­ing in this city for 30 years. I’ve never seen any­thing quite like this.” Com­ing from a fam­ily that was on the re­ceiv­ing end of the dis­crim­i­na­tory cap­i­tal tax and the İstanbul ri­ots of Sept. 6-7, 1955, Mi­nas­sian ex­plains: “As some­one who bore wit­ness to the dis­crim­i­na­tion aimed against his friends at the Şişli 19 Mayıs Pri­mary School dur­ing the Ar­me­nian Se­cret Army for the Lib­er­a­tion of Ar­me­nia (ASALA) days, I feel that we’ve made very sig­nif­i­cant progress. Some feel that this is not enough, but I dis­agree. Turkey has un­der­gone vast changes over the past decade. When I go to Turkey now, I feel more at ease and I en­joy it more.”

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