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Manual My Grandmother: An Armenian-Turkish Memoir

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History Book Review: My Grandmother: A Memoir by Fethiye Cetin, Maureen Freely

The Bursa encounter came just days after Turkey and Armenia signed a historic series of protocols to establish diplomatic relations and to reopen the Turkish-Armenian border, which has been closed since The agreement, strongly backed by the United States, the European Union and Russia, has come under vociferous opposition from nationalists in both Turkey and Armenia.

But Ms. Cetin argued that the most enduring consequence could be helping to overcome mutual recriminations. She said Armenians had been battling a powerful and collective denial in Turkish society about the killings. So we need the borders to come down in order to have dialogue. View all New York Times newsletters.

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Cetin, who was raised by her maternal grandmother, said the borders in her own Muslim Turkish heart came down irrevocably when her grandmother revealed her Armenian past. Heranus, she said, was only a child in when Turkish soldiers arrived in her ethnically Armenian Turkish village of Maden, rounding up the men and sequestering women and girls in a church courtyard with high walls.

During the forced march toward exile that followed, Heranus said, she saw her own grandmother drown two of her grandchildren before she herself jumped into the water and disappeared. They started a new family. Cetin said.

Cetin, who was imprisoned for three years in the s for opposing the military regime in Turkey at the time, said her newfound Armenian identity inspired her to become a human rights lawyer. When Hrant Dink, editor of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos , was prosecuted in for insulting Turkishness by referring to the genocide, she became his lawyer. On Jan. Dink was killed outside his office by a young ultranationalist.


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Cetin published a memoir about her grandmother in When her grandmother died in at age 95, Ms. Cetin that when her father had died in , she had found a piece of paper carefully folded in his wallet that he had been keeping for years. It was a letter Heranus had written to him shortly after he had left for the United States. Tell us what you think.

A Family Tree Uprooted by a Year-Old Secret - The New York Times

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Only decades later did she discover the truth. Her grandmother. She was born a Christian Armenian. Most of the men in her village had been slaughtered in A Turkish gendarme had stolen her from her mother and adopted her. A deeply affecting memoir, My Grandmother is also a step towards another kind of Turkey, one that is finally at peace with its past.

Fethiye Cetin

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