Citizenship Doesn’t Identify Ethnicity

Perouz, Toronto, 16 July 2013

After reading the several letters Marsha Skrypuch has sent to Keghart.com, I would like to reply to her assertions. She writes: "The Ottoman adult male internment is not the only explosive political football here." She goes on to mention Croatian, Serbian and Polish adult male internees. It would be reasonable to assume that Croatians, Serbians and Poles would be talking about the internment of their own people. However, the interned men the Turks are talking about are Alevi or Kizilbash Kurds, not Turks. Turkish researchers have been aware of this as early as January 2010.

Perouz, Toronto, 16 July 2013

After reading the several letters Marsha Skrypuch has sent to Keghart.com, I would like to reply to her assertions. She writes: "The Ottoman adult male internment is not the only explosive political football here." She goes on to mention Croatian, Serbian and Polish adult male internees. It would be reasonable to assume that Croatians, Serbians and Poles would be talking about the internment of their own people. However, the interned men the Turks are talking about are Alevi or Kizilbash Kurds, not Turks. Turkish researchers have been aware of this as early as January 2010.

Many Armenians, myself included, have original documents which show that their parents or grandparents were born in Turkey and their country of origin when they came to Canada was Ottoman Turkey. Try telling the descendants of those Armenians that their parents were Turks! Citizenship does not define ethnicity.

So, the important question is this: Did the Alevi-Kizilbash Kurds in Canada, at the turn of the century, self-identify as Turks, or as Alevi-Kizibash who were previously citizens of Ottoman Turkey? There is primary documentation from 1918 which indicates that many Alevi-Kizilbash Kurds identified with their Christian neighbours in Turkey and not with the Turks. Many even revered certain Christian saints, in common with Armenians. This primary source documentation was published in the 1930s, was distributed internationally, and is archived in the Library of Congress in Washington.

Ms. Skrypuch tells us that she has donated to the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association fund. Does this fund include payment for the Turkish burial rituals of these unfortunate Alevis, or for cemetery stones identifying them as Turks? Even a cursory Internet search will reveal the vast religious differences between Turkish and Alevis-Kizilbash burial ceremonies of the time.

Mr. Antourian raises an important question: "So why do the Turkish consul general and his Canadian cohorts continue this farce?" Why indeed, particularly when the internees were no longer citizens of Ottoman Turkey once they settled in Canada, and, of course, were not ethnic Turks. If Turkey is attempting to accuse Canada of ethnic-based hate crime so as to demand silence from Canada on the Armenian Genocide, then Turkey underestimates the integrity of this country's position on the Genocide.  The Keghart editorial notes: "The Dominion of Canada considered the Turks dangerous aliens." Well, just ask the Armenians if they were dangerous aliens. Ask the Greeks and Assyrians. Ask the Dersim Kurds.

Ms. Skrypuch states that her children's fiction are the "key means non-Armenians have become aware of the Genocide of Armenians," as if the Genocide was an obscure event until she exposed it with her novels. The historical facts of the Armenian Genocide have been disseminated to non-Armenians for a century.  Highly-regarded international associations continue to disseminate information on the Armenian Genocide. Television documentaries, movies, countless fiction and non-fiction books and websites, magazine and newspaper articles, reports by Armenian and non-Armenian eyewitnesses, paintings, and photographs have documented the Genocide of Armenians.  It is impossible for Turkey to succeed in burying this historical truth. The world already knows.

1 comment
  1. Citizenship/Identity

    Dear Perouz,

    Re your comment:

    talking about the internment of their own people. However, the interned men the Turks are talking about are Alevi or Kizilbash Kurds, not Turks. .

    Yes exactly.

    Most of the people interned in WWII experienced an injustice very similar to the Alevis. The bulk of internees were Ukrainian and they were mistakenly identified as "Austrians". Why? Because Ukraine was at the time occupied by Austira-Hungary. So these people who had fled persecution in their homeland were persecuted yet again when they came to Canada. It is the Alevi double persecution that I am writing about in my upcoming novel.

    Re your comment:

    Ms. Skrypuch tells us that she has donated to the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association fund. Does this fund include payment for the Turkish burial rituals of these unfortunate Alevis, or for cemetery stones identifying them as Turks?

    Hardly. No UCCLA funds have been used for these purposes, and certainly not money I have donated. I am writing a novel about the Alevis who have been misidentified as Turks and the double persecution they have suffered. The money that I donated in 1996 went towards placing markers on the sites of the 24 internment camps across Canada, including the internment camp at Jasper Alberta where my own grandfather was interned.

    The Canadian WWII Recognition Fund is a separate entity altogether, and I have no part in it. But when I saw the photo of the Muslim cemetery marker in Kapuskasing on the gravesite of an Alevi internee who died there, I complained to them. It turns out they had nothing to do with it, and did not fund it. I don't know who did fund it. I also followed up with them re the allegation that there was a Turkish rep on their council. The position was empty when I contacted them, and shortly after that, they appointed a person Dersim Alevi heritage.

    Re the so-called Turkish Brantford cemetery plot. The people buried there are not internees. Seven of the 16 were buried before WWI. Of the remaining, there isn't a single exact name match between the internee list and the cemetery list. There are two similar names, but when you consider that there were more than 100 internees, many with generic Alevi names, it would be a stretch to link the Brantford cemetery when there are just two names who could be even remotely linked.

    I have written a letter to the Brantford mayor expressing my concern about the proposed signage. I'd also like to know who determined that this was supposed to be the first Muslim burial ground in Canada. A quick search through the genealogy portal of Archives Canada shows that there were Muslim immigrants from the Ottoman Empire in Canada before 1890. Some of them must have died and been buried here before 1912.

    all the best
    Marsha Skrypuch
     

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