Kurdish Writer Yaşar Kemal Dies at Age 92

By Dr. Amy L. Beam:

On February 28, 2015, Kurdish writer Yaşar Kemal, died in Istanbul at the age of 92.  He was born in Osmaniye Gökçeda in southeast Turkey on October 6, 1923.  One of the most famous writers in Turkey, Kemal was awarded 19 literary prizes during his lifetime and nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1973.

Kurdish writer Yaşar Kemal, dies at age 92

Kurdish writer Yaşar Kemal, dies at age 92

One of his most significant contributions to archeology in Turkey was saving the 10th century Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on Akdamar Island in Lake Van from destruction.

In 1915, the monks of the church were massacred and the church stood empty, exposed to vandalism.  According to Wikipedia, before the restoration of the church, the bas-relief stone carvings on the church wall were used as a shooting range.

Zakarya Mildanoğlu, an architect who was involved in the restoration process of the church, explains the situation during an interview with Hrant Dink as “The facade of the church is full of bullet holes. Some of them are so big that, they cannot be covered during the renovation process. ”

Akdamar 10th century Armenian church   

Akdamar 10th century Armenian church

Bas-relief stone carvings of Biblical stories

Bas-relief stone carvings of Biblical stories

In 1951 the Turkish government made a decision to destroy the Armenian church, but Yaşar Kemal managed to stop the destruction. He explained the situation to Alain Bosquet as “I was in a ship from Tatvan to Van. I met with a military officer Dr. Cavit Bey onboard. I told him, in this city there is a church descended from Armenians. It is a masterpiece. These days, they are demolishing this church. I will take you there tomorrow. This church is a monument of Anatolia. Can you help me to stop the destruction?

“The next day we went there with the military officer. They had already demolished the small chapel next to the church. The military officer became angry and told the workers, ‘I am ordering you to stop working. I will meet with governor. There will be no movement until I return to the island again’. The workers immediately stopped the demolition. We arrived at Van city center. I contacted the newspaper Cumhuriyet. They informed the Ministry of Education about the demolition. Two days later, Minister Avni Başman telegraphed the Van governor and ordered to stop the demolition permanently. June 25, 1951, the day when the order came, is the liberation day of the church.”

In 2005-2006 the Turkish government restored the church.  It opened to tourism in 2007.  Every November a church service is held and 3,000 Armenian descendents from everywhere in the world make a pilgrimage to attend the church service.  Akdamar Island is a 15-minute boat ride from the southeast shore of Lake Van. Ferries run daily until sunset.

Dr. Amy L. Beam promotes tourism in eastern Turkey at Mount Ararat Trek and writes political and historical commentary on Kurds in Turkey at Kurdistan Tribune. Twitter @amybeam; amybeam@yahoo.com

There are no comments yet. Be the first and leave a response!

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL https://kurdistantribune.com/kurdish-writer-yasar-kemal-dies-age-92/trackback/