Identifying the State of Armenian Migrants in Turkey Investigative Journalistic Research 2009
Armenian Migrants in Turkey
94% of all the Armenian workers in Turkey are women workers; most of the Armenian immigrant men don’t work and come to Turkey to stay with their wives and keep them safe.
Both Turkish and Armenian people think that the moral values of Turkish and Armenian people are similar. The behavior of Turkish men vis-a-vis Armenian and Russian immigrant women differ.
Schoolchildren with Armenian citizenship cannot go to school.
. . .
Turkish schools admit only children of legally residing parents or citizens.
There are special schools for diplomats but those are very expensive When a child of an Armenian couple is born in Turkey, the parents can’t apply for the citizenship for their child. They can’t go back to Armenia, so the child cannot receive an Armenian passport either.
They were full of mistrust to Turks before they came to Turkey. Their attitudes drastically change shortly after they arrive.
The immigration from Armenia has started after the independence of Armenian Republic in 1991 and it also continues today. Between 2002 and 2007 the density of immigration has increased.
* Information from Turkish Statistic Union Years 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Arrives from RA to TR 17 549 7 080 17 572 23 118 33 097 36 648 41 692 53 142 Arrives from TR to RA 14 672 7 067 16 952 22 573 31 359 36 353 41 751 53 393 2877 33 629 545 1738 295 -59 -251 Total RA citizens in TR (2000-2007) 5807 *
Methodology of the Research The main goal of the research is to expose the social and legal problems of the Armenian migrants.
Focus group with Armenian workers
According to the focus group study, we have found out that the 94% of all the Armenian workers in Turkey are women workers. They state that they prefer Turkey to work, because most of the work areas that irregular workers can work fit for women workers. (Like house cleaning, nursing, baby-sitting, etc.)
M.G, female, 37 years old says: Men have standards, I think. They don’t tolerate to be insulted or oppressed. They’re men, you know. I have been working here for ten years. I haven’t said a word against any insults. I earn little money from my job and I don’t want to lose it. Men start a fight over any insulting word. My husband is also the same...It’s because we’re Easterner. But sometimes I want to ask: If he’s a man and a tough person, then why does he let me work? Doesn’t his manly pride hurt while I’m cleaning someone else’s house?
Focus group with the employers of Armenian workers Z.A, female, 50 years old says: I’m afraid. The house I live in is in Ferikoy district of Istanbul. There’re lots of Armenian families living in there and they all have irregular Armenian immigrant employees. It means we’re very much exposed. Also the people we’re working for are distressed due to the possibility of being informed to the police. I only leave the house in the morning and do the shopping. I haven’t been going out after evening hours for 8 years. Turkish employers state that they have a better communication with Armenian women than Russian or Moldavian women. They also underline the cultural similarities between Turkish people and Armenian people. In their opinion the Armenian people are more honest, modest and have similar point of view on ethical subjects with Turkish people.
Most of the Armenian immigrants come from the countryside of Armenia. Especially, the villagers whose villages have been badly damaged by the earthquake in 1988. Insufficient employment in this area is another significant factor of the immigration.
150 Armenians had been interviewed. Big part of these interviews took place in Istanbul. I nterviews have been h e ld also in Izmir, Antalya and Trabzon.
A.P., female, 54 years old says: I’m from the city of Echmidazin. The financial situation of me and my kids was too bad. I had got relatives in Istanbul. I had found some loan and come to Istanbul by bus. I had no choice. Due to my lack of education, there were limited job alternatives for me .
Migrants from Yerevan, because of their educational level and language skills ear a little higher than others: 800-1000 USD. The incomes of the Armenian immigrants are between 100 USD and 600 USD. Income
It’s hard to give any certain information about marital status of immigrants. Generally they introduce themselves as widowed or divorced. Some of the married women have had no contact with their husbands since they came to Turkey.
H.A., female, 42 years old says : I came to Turkey in 2000 for the first time. When I got here, I was offered a job. I started to work as an assistant in a rich family’s house. I had got problems with my husband, so I decided to stay here. Also we’re like divorced at the moment.....It was the most important factor. I didn’t have the financial freedom to divorce my husband in Yerevan. I was not able to rent a house for myself. Marital Status
Nearly all the Armenian Migrants are planning to return to their motherlands. It`s hard for them to make the return date definite. They are waiting for some economic developments in Armenia which is difficult for them to explain or to guess. A.B., female, 45 years old says: Of course I plan to return to Armenia. But I have no idea about the future. Sometimes I think about it over and over for a few days and I get a great headache, so I don’t want to think about it any more....Our situation is a volunteered exile in one way or maybe not. Listen, I want to tell you something. I don’t make any plans for my future any more.
G.A., female, 36 years old `In my spare time....I dream. I dream of the days that I’ll go back to Armenia. I buy presents for my loved ones. Sometimes I write letters to them at night.
The children of Armenian migrants can’t go to any public school or Armenian Minority school as they have no Turkish citizenship. Most of these uneducated children spend their lives by playing on the streets. They are prone to have bad habits and develop a criminal personality. M.G., female, 37 years old says: I have considered a lot bringing my children here. But they can’t have any education in here. They would be ruined in here. I don’t want to harm them. I want them to have a proper education. I don’t want them to live a life like mine. For example there are children who were born in here. They can speak neither Armenian nor Turkish properly. They spend all their times on the streets.
Relationship with Turkish Armenians
The relationship between Armenian Migrants and native Turkish Armenians is a little bit complicated. It is not a secret that native Armenians, whose number reaches 60.000, can potentially provide jobs to Armenian Migrants, but because of the personal complexes and cultural diversity, their relations are problematic.
A.B, female, 46 years old says` ...Native Armenians are entirely a different subject. Everyone thinks that we have solidarity, but there’s none. They look down on us. In their opinion we are peasants and we know nothing.
Worries before coming and now
Most of the Armenian immigrants have mentioned that they had worries before they came to Turkey. They even mentioned that they were afraid.
All of them stated that their opinions on Turkey completely changed shortly after they came to Turkey.
M. G., female 38 years old, says` … Turkish boss criticizes me over the politics between Armenia and Turkey. He always says: “ We give you people job and money, but you are always ungrateful. You are talking about genocide all the time. ” ....I feel very bad. I curse my fate. He vents his spleen on me. Before the assassination of Hrant Dink their only fear was being deported, now they say that they’re afraid of being killed.
Relationship with Turks
A.B, female, 46 years old says ` ....Turkish people, who don’t care about politics, have no problem with us. But sometimes cops and other civil servants behave in a hostile manner.
Yet, they mention Turks, especially Turkish women, with positive references. Their positive references depend mostly on the fact that they are not ill-treated by the Turkish people for their Armenian identity