The occupied state structures are also interested in the problems of the hidden and Islamized Armenians. This is demonstrated by the detailed data appearing from time to time in the press and analytical bulletins on the actual places of residence of the converted Armenians, their numbers and the processes taking place among them. Turkish historians note that from the very beginning, the Turkish state took steps to further distinguish between Armenians who converted to Islam during the genocide, and, for example, the relevant authorities were required to make special notes against the names of Armenians in the registers and to fill in passports in a way that understood their conversion.

In this context, another nuance of Halaçoğlu’s statement deserves our attention, the falsifier of history announced that he had the lists of Armenian converts, which were prepared meticulously, moreover, “the state registered these people by going from house to house”. The question acquires a more interesting context also because Halaçoğlu avoids mentioning the specific source. Naturally, a question arises. if these people were registered by the state, it should have been done through state agencies and their assigned functions. One of the accepted options for registering people is the census. It is known that the first census was conducted in occupied Western Armenia in 1927, after which, from 1935, it was decided to conduct a census every five years. However, in the Turkish sources we find data that prove that, for example, in 1935 double censuses were also conducted in Western Armenia. Thus, the facts preserved in the register of the Grand National Assembly of the Turkish State prove that in 1934, on May 29, the Turkish Mejlis passed Law No. 2465, which provided for a census to be taken in 1935. However, it should be noted that about a month later, the same Mejlis passed Law 2576 on the census of the “secret population”, which came into effect on June 15 of the same year.

Thus, two types of censuses were conducted, and the census of the “crypto population” was completed in 1935.In July, and the “universal” took place in October of the same year. The aforementioned law consisted of 12 articles, the first of which obliged everyone to report within a month and a half the population hidden in his home or under his control, the fourth article imposed a penalty of 1 to 10 lire for those who did not give correct information. Naturally, the official justification for conducting a census of the “crypto population” was quite logical, and we do not exclude that these censuses, in fact, also had the purpose of determining the real number of the population. However, it would be naive to think that during the census of the “crypto population” the number of Armenians who took refuge with Muslims or later converted to Islam was not additionally adjusted. 

In our opinion, the collection of detailed facts by the state, especially about the converted Armenians living in Dersim province, had a specific purpose. It is known that in 1938 the Turkish state organized a massacre in Dersim, and in recounting this, many Alevis in Dersim cited what they had heard from their elders and contemporaries of the massacre, according to which the number one target of the Turkish army at that time was the Armenians who took refuge there in 1915.

As one elderly Dersim resident wrote in his memoirs:

“What remained unfinished in 1915 was continued in 1938, and during this massacre a large number of converted Armenians were killed.”

  It is indisputable that Armenians in occupied Western Armenia, whether overt, crypto or Islamized, are still under serious state surveillance and perceived as a potential threat. This is also confirmed by the following remarkable data. It is known that in 1980 on September 12, a military coup was carried out in the Turkish state and power passed into the hands of the National Security Council composed of high-ranking military personnel, who appointed emergency commanders with unlimited powers.

In 1982, on September 8, the emergency command asked the security service to check whether there were any Armenians or people of Armenian origin in the areas, and if there were, to register them and put them under surveillance. The Turkish state newspaper “Radikal” also published the confession of a former employee of the Turkish security services, which specifically states:

  “We received a written order from the emergency command. We studied the area under our responsibility, asked if there were citizens of Armenian origin there. It was the time of the state of emergency, everyone was afraid, and since Armenians were considered ‘separatists,’ if they existed, no one dared to hide them.”

We deem it necessary to add that similar decrees are not unique in the history of republican Turkey and can be found in different periods. It is obvious that various Turkish state circles, analysis and research centers are engaged in acquiring new data on crypto-Armenians and Islamized Armenians, and the list published in the Turkish magazine “Axion” contains data on the places of residence and the number of crypto-Armenians, currently living in occupied Western Armenia, is the best proof of this. 

It is interesting to note that, according to the information of the Turkish newspaper, these data are constantly changing, as the work continues.

To be continued…

Ashkhen Virabian

Journalist-analyst of Western Armenia TV