During the field research in Beirut, Lebanon between April, 21st and 26th we interviewed 26 people, more than we had previously planned.
- Encounter: The Colleges of A.E.B.U. Sahaguian and L. Meguerditchian
Mr. Alex Keushkerian, the representative for Foreign Relations of the The Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, greatly contributed to our planning of the field research, helping us contact people, organize our presentation and turning our research into a platform for a dialog. The important meetings were organized in the period and a series of conversations were held with the Lebanese Armenians as to our previous researches and the subjects concerning Turkey which they were interested in.
On the April, 22nd 2016, during the week dedicated to the commemoration of the Genocide we answered to the questions posed by the students about our research. The teacher who introduced us to the crowd stressed the fact that not all people in Turkey are in denial, which is certainly a necessary clarification for any dialog with the Armenians. The students were eager to find out the reasons why we recognized the genocide and we tried to answer as best we could. They were also curious if we experienced any trouble for our research, either from our friends, families, or state authorities.
- Encounter: Haigazian University
Some 50 people attended to our presentation at the Haigazian University organized by Dr. Antranik M. Dakessian as part of the activities connected with the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. We shared the field results from the Turkey and Armenia, the profiles of the interviewees, their attitudes, and ideas demands in general. They wanted to know the reactions that our research created in Armenia, if the assassination of Hrant Dink affected in any way our decision to start the research, helped to weaken denialist perspective in Turkey.
Ararat news published a news article for our presentation at the university.
We realized that the political tension stemming from Armenian-Turkish relations was felt much more easily in Lebanon than Armenia. The perception that a great majority of Turks are in denial and hostile to Armenians was extremely strong. Therefore, they were eager to find out our coming to terms with the Armenian Genocide. Besides that, some people, and not only Armenians, were surprised that we visited the country as Turks, warning us not to run into Armenians stressing that they would not like to see us. A taxi driver warned us not to go to Bourj Hammoud, which we did. However, we can say that we did not witness any hostility from the Armenians, even if it was not always easy to convince them to talk to us and in some cases we were not able to.
Linguistic diversity among the Lebanese Armenians was striking. Old generation speak Turkish quite fluently, even if with some minor variations. There is certain willingness on the part of young Armenians to learn Turkish, which some do watching Turkish TV series. Arabic, English and French are also among the languages spoken by the Armenians. An interesting comment as to why Armenians speak Turkish was given by one interviewee. To him, some Armenians, in particular the old generations kept speaking Turkish because of the Genocide in order not to be recognized easily by the Turks.
Perhaps the most important event for us was to attend to the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide on the 24th of April. We were the first people from Turkey to be accepted for such an occasion.