Book Reviews

Book Review: My Grandmother.

The author, Fethiye Cetin, who is part Armenian, should be congratulated for her courage to write a memoir about her Armenian grandmother explaining how the politician of the Ottoman Empire tried to commit the first genocide of the 20th century.

She does not come close to writing the absolute facts how the “death marches” were planned and organized, but for those who know the facts, the history explains all in great detail.

At one time, Asia Minor what is now the Republic of Turkey, was inhabited mostly by Greeks, Jews and Armenians. Turks were a minority. Some claim more than 50 per cent of the population at that time were Christians, and Ottoman politicians decided to “cleanse” the land of non-Muslims.

As a little girl, the author, now a human rights lawyer practising in Istanbul, grew up adoring her grandmother, who was widely recognized as a Muslim matriarch. But in reality her grandmother was an Armenian who was taken from her mothers clasp by a World War I Turkish gendarme who was in charge of supervising the “death marches” to the desert (Deir er Dzor) in Syria, which at the time was part of the Ottoman Empire.

She mentions very diplomatically whether these outright atrocities were genocide, or massacres, or part of a civil war, never mentioning that there was no war between Armenians and Turks in the land. If she out rightly stated that it was genocide, the present Turkish government would never have allowed the publication to be sold.

This is tenderly written memoir dealing with history that successive Turkish governments never accepted, ignoring and blocking all the efforts of Diaspora Armenians and the Armenian government, to finally admit that all activities were planned.

The families who converted to Islam escaped persecution, but their official records contained the word “convert”, barring them from public service employment, which to this day continues, despite the claim of the government to the contrary.

The “converts” were openly mocked as “leftovers from the sword”.]

Fethiye Cetin represents Hrant Dink, who was the editor and publisher of a current Armenian publication called Agos, and who was murdered if front of his office. The accused was given a light sentence, which proves the points made above that all non-Muslims in Turkey are treated as “second class citizens”.

The author breaks the silence with courage. It is a sad and touching story of the life and journey of one Armenian woman.

One wishes that there were more Fethiye Cetin’s wiling to tell the story and the truth.

Highly recommended reading.