Author and human-rights lawyer Fethiye Çetin (Istanbul, Turkey), will speak on “Echo of Silence” at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, at the Berberian Social Hall of St. Paul Armenian Church, 3767 N. First Street, in Fresno.
The lecture is being held as part of the commemorative activities associated with the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and is part of the Armenian Studies Program Spring 2017 Lecture Series, supported by the Leon S. Peters Foundation.
“I was in a state of shock for a long time — I suddenly saw the world through different eyes. I had grown up thinking of myself as a Turkish Muslim, not an Armenian. There had been nothing in the history books about the massacre of a people that had been erased from Turkey’s collective memory. Like my grandmother, many had buried their identity — and the horrors they had seen — deep inside of them.” ~ Fethiye Çetin (N. Y. Times, 2010)
Fethiye Çetin grew up in Maden, Turkey, and had no reason to suspect that she had other than Turkish Muslim roots. It was only when her maternal grandmother Seher revealed to her that her real name was Heranush that Çetin became aware of her true roots.
Heranush was born to parents Hovannes and Isguhi Gadaryan, and was taken from her mother’s arms during the Armenian Genocide. She had kept secret her Armenian identity until shortly before her death.
This legacy inspired Çetin’s first book, a memoir published in 2004 about her grandmother’s story entitled “My Grandmother: An Armenian Turkish Memoir,” a compelling account of her gradual discovery of the deep contradiction between her proud nationalist education and the realities buried deep in Turkish society.
The memoir follows Hernanus through the eyes of her granddaughter, from memories of Çetin’s childhood, to the horrendous events of the Armenian Genocide her grandmother revealed to her as an adult.
Çetin will speak about her own choices after learning the truth-whether to speak out or not. She refused to be silent and as a result made significant sacrifices. Today the tide is changing. Where before only the elderly talked about the Genocide, today it is their grandchildren who are talking about it.
Fethiye Çetin is a Turkish lawyer, writer and human rights activist. She has represented the family of slain newspaper editor Hrant Dink.
The lecture is free and open to the public.
For more information about the lecture please contact the Armenian Studies Program at 278-2669, or visit our website at www.fresnostate.edu/armenianstudies.