A Personal Essay & Manifesto – Part 1
For Part 2; Part 3 & Part 4


by Bircan ÜNVER, New York

  1. Dedicated to Devrim/Revolution

    For a "Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Initiative" between Armenia and Turkey, and between Armenian and Turkish communities around the world - Abstract from the Manifesto of Turkish-Greek Synergy - TURKISH & GREEK SYNERGY - Manifesto:

I have never understood the purpose of all this: local wars feeding terrorism and religous wars, and then expanding the target to mass killing and destruction. What can be achieved by destroying nature, history, and our humanity?


We have to establish peace with ourselves, our families and neighbors, and other countries in order to achieve a better world.


We cannot attain lasting peace without global participation.  As Albert Einstein said, “If one corner of the world is in danger, all countries are in danger.”

When I was seventeen, my nephew fell in love with an Armenian-Turkish girl in Istanbul.  His family was traditional and religious: they prayed five times a day, fasted during Ramadan, etc.  But their sons and daughters were modern in terms of attire and social life, going dancing, drinking alcohol, not wearing headscarves, and going to the beach. 

In other words, they were not forced to live as their parents lived. My aunt and uncle, however, were not open-minded enough to approve of their son’s love for an Armenian girl.  T. (as I will call her) was a nice girl, but she either didn’t care about the traditional values of her fiancé’s family, or was simply too young to adjust to their expectations.  She wore miniskirts, used makeup, and colored her hair. 

These were not appropriate values in the eyes of my nephew’s traditional Islamic family. 

Both families opposed the relationship on religious grounds; they were particularly worried about the religion of their future grandchildren.  Neither my nephew nor his fiancée listened to their families.  They got married very young, and without any financial or emotional support, they felt isolated in their old and inexpensive apartment. 

Among my nephew’s entire extended family, my mother and father were the only ones to welcome them.  Our door alone was open to them. 

Needless to say, they had serious financial troubles. They quarreled frequently, and T. was constantly complaining about her husband’s jealousy. 

Before long, she gave birth to a daughter, who was named Devrim (“Revolution” in Turkish).  Sadly, the marriage didn’t last long.We later learned that T. married an older man and moved to Germany, leaving her beloved daughter behind.  I haven’t heard from T. in thirty years.  And because of the religious conflicts, I never had the opportunity to meet anyone from her family. Without a sustainable job, my nephew was not able to take care of Devrim.  His parents therefore looked after her for most of her short life. I saw Devrim during Bayram (a religious holiday) when I returned to Turkey from the U.S. in 1993.  She looked just like her mother: tall and slim with long black hair, big black eyes, fair skin, and a round face.  I asked how old she was, trying to remember how many years had passed since I last saw her.  She said she was nineteen. 

A few months later, my sister told me that Devrim had died.  

I was shocked and very upset.

She suffered from a chronic liver ailment, and had been under treatment for a long time.  I wish I had spoken with her about her mother, and whether they had stayed in touch. 

From time to time, I think about Devrim.  I always believed that she was an innocent victim of intolerance. 

But perhaps she can still be a symbol of hope for the Armenian and Turkish communities, whose conflicts, both visible and hidden, continue to be played out on the world stage. 

The tragedy of this story is not only that we lost a special girl at a young age, but also that two communities missed a chance to embrace each other.  All I knew at the time was that the problem was caused by religious differences, which made no sense to me. 

Now, whenever I look back on those years, I understand and appreciate my nephew’s challenge.  I also understand why he named his daughter “Revolution”! 

There are probably thousands of untold stories similar to this one around the world.  Isn't it time for us to change our way of thinking, begin looking for ways to heal the hatred, turn enemies into friends, and open new avenues for the younger generations?  Children should not have to be the victims of their parents’ grievances.  A family’s sense of responsibility must be unconditional.

(End of Part 1)
- For Part 2; Part 3 & Part 4
Edited by Figen Bingül
Copy Editor: Emily Bunker

Disclosure: This essay was written by Bircan Ünver as an open proposal to all potentially interested individuals and institutions/organizations nationwide and internationally, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the Board of Directors or the Advisory Board of the Light Millennium.

Note: The first draft of this manifesto was written on the 4th of July, 2007, for “a Turkish & Armenian Synergy Initiative,” to be formed under the Light Millennium Organization (, associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations effective on December 2005.  Updated by Bircan Ünver on October 14, 2007, New York.

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