Monte Melkonian: Minority-Related Terms. About Ethnic & Religious Minorities in Turkey. Part 3
Cover Photo: RURO photography
The text which appears below was part of a collective project undertaken by Monte Melkonian and others to prepare material for the political program and manifesto of a projected political organization, the Armenian Patriotic Liberation Movement (A.P.L.M.). The text was prepared in 1984 and significantly revised in 1988.
National Minorities in Turkey: A national minority in Turkey is any minority in Turkey which comprises a distinct cultural-national entity — i.e., which has a combination of cultural, historical, linguistic, religious and other traits that are definitive of the minority. Some national minorities in present-day Turkey include the Circassians, Armenians (in present reality), Greeks and Arabs.
All of these peoples must achieve at least national minority rights in Turkey. Although the Armenian people are currently a national minority in Turkey, there are circumstances which warrant special consideration in this case. Both diasporan Armenians and many of those who immigrated to Soviet Armenia during and after the genocide are descendants of people who were forcibly deported from their homeland. Millions of Armenians outside of Turkey feel a strong attachment to the part of the Armenian homeland currently within the borders of Turkey. Many of these Armenians strive to resettle in their homeland, and this has given rise to the Armenian patriotic liberation struggle. This struggle, if fully successful, may lead to the unification with Soviet Armenian of areas of the Armenian homeland currently within the borders of the Turkish state. If less successful, the struggle may lead to partial reunification or some sort of regional autonomy within Turkey and/or Kurdistan, where Armenians will make up a significant part of the local population. In any case, as a minimum demand the Armenian people must be granted full rights as a national minority within the Armenian homeland (whether in Turkey or in Kurdistan) and in other regions where they may have their permanent residences. This implies that the Armenian case is not simply a case of self-determination as a national minority.
The case of Circassians (Cherkez) is also special. The Circassians are concentrated cm the southeastern coast of the Black Sea where they, along with the Laz, comprise a significant percentage of the population. Because they constitute at least a plurality in many regions, their right to unite with Circassians in Soviet Georgia (as some Circassians desire) should be respected.
Likewise, Arabs (and others) in the region of Iskenderia (Hatay) make up a large part of the local population. Since this region has historically been associated with the Arab people and Syria, the inhabitants of the region should be able to choose whether they wish to unite with Syria or enjoy full national minority rights within Turkey.
Finally, let it be noted that the Kurds make up a colonized nation within their own homeland. Kurds constitute a national minority only outside the Kurdish homeland. There they should enjoy rights as a national minority.
Other Minorities in Turkey: Apart from national minorities, there are also a number of other minorities in Turkey, including the Alawite, Jewish and Yezidi minorities (the latter of which is essentially part of the Kurdish nation). These have cultural, religious or other characteristics which in one way or another distinguish them from other natives. All such minorities should be guaranteed their right to practice their faiths and develop themselves freely.
Sourse: The Right to Struggle (Selected Writings of Monte Melkonian on the Armenian National Question).