Rafael Altnyan (Faruk Altnoglu) is an Armenian living in Amasya. He was born and raised in Amasya and works as a shoemaker. He is married, his wife is Muslim and although he declares himself Armenian in spirit, he has never been able to freely say that he is Armenian. The Turkish opposition newspaper “Artı Gerçek” talks about it.
It is worth noting that Rafael Altynyan is the brother of the famous left-wing Armenian figure in Turkey, the revolutionary Karpis Altynyan (Garbis Altinoglu).
According to Altynyan, Amasya is his homeland and he is the man of this land.
“My school friends knew that I was Armenian, when I wanted to wave the Turkish flag, they didn’t allow me. I think they didn’t let me do it, because I’m Armenian , I felt it. I am a patriot, I love my homeland more than my life, this is my homeland, I am also a person of this land, the owner of this land. The story of my ancestors grandfather dates back to the 1500s,” he said. After finishing primary school, he continued his studies at the Surb Khach Dprevank boarding school in Constantinople, but due to meningitis and tuberculosis he stopped his studies and returned to Amasyia. He and Hrant Dink were school friends. In his memoirs, Altynyan remembers Dink like this: “Hrant was a tall guy with curly hair. I am his age, but I don’t remember much about him. There were Armenians from different regions of Turkey (occupied Western Armenia) in the school: Hayko was from there, Ohannes Chiroglu was from Amasya, Hrant Dink was from there.
Mentioning another incident during his years of service, he says he spent his military service in Sarigamish, where the sergeant beat him with a shovel, and as he notes: “I felt like that he did it on purpose because I was Armenian.”
Altynyan was saddened by the demolition of their house by the municipality where he was born and raised, and the construction of a religious high school on the Armenian campus caused the most sadness. “I couldn’t even protect my grandfather’s grave. I remember it well. During the holidays, we went as a group to the construction site of the Imam Hatip school. No one called me to ask about it. I had to bury my mother in the Turkish cemetery and if I had the chance, I would bury her in the Armenian cemetery.”
“When they find out that I am Armenian, many people will leave me and my only wish is to be able to speak freely about my identity. When people ask me where I come from, I always give evasive answers, I don’t want to reveal my identity. nationality to everyone because it might not please some people. I did not choose to be Armenian, but I am proud to be one,” says Altynyan. In addition to his words, Altynyan says: “I I am a supporter of peace, democracy and freedom. Everyone should accept me as I am, not alienate me or treat me with hostility. I want everyone in this society to have the same rights, no one’s rights should be violated and everyone should live in peace. I am a true citizen of this country. I don’t want to feel like a foreigner in my own country.
A lot of people around me tell me “you’re an immigrant”, I laugh and move on. I am a true child of Amasya, but inside I live an immigrant life. I accepted everyone as they were and did not discriminate against anyone. However, I am not shown the respect and tolerance that I show towards this society.
Many people turned their backs on me when they found out I was Armenian. »