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#1 Yervant1


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Posted 23 July 2013 - 09:38 AM

by Alin Ozinian*

Today's Zaman, Turkey
July 22 2013

The Armenian community, which greeted the declaration of the Second
MeÅ~_rutiyet (constitutional) era on Oct. 28, 1908 with great joy and
hope, also saw a new newspaper enter their lives three months later --
the Jamanak newspaper.

At the time of Jamanak's founding, there were a variety of newspapers
published in different languages in Ä°stanbul, many of whose names
meant "time." Inspired by this, the founders of Jamanak, Misak and
Sarkis Kocunyanlar, decided to give their new newspaper the same name;
"Jamanak" is the Armenian word for "time."

Misak Kocunyan had previously worked as a reporter for the first
Armenian language daily to be published in the Armenian alphabet,
the "Manzume-i Efkâr," which was started during the era of Sultan
Abdul-Aziz and was published for 51 years. In fact, Kocunyan went on
to manage and be the head columnist for this newspaper for many years.

When Jamanak was founded, a new epoch was just about to begin in the
Ottoman Empire; this new newspaper was formed with the expectations
of the "freedom of press and thoughts" for which the Young Turks were
about to lay down the foundation. Despite the fact that not only
were these expectations not realized, but that the entire Armenian
population of Turkey experienced enormous losses and calamity during
the republican years to come, none of this forced Jamanak to turn
from its path.

Since the day it was founded exactly 105 years ago, the Jamanak
newspaper has been in continuous publication and the Kocunyan family
has overseen its publication without cessation since that first day.

For all these years, the newspaper has operated less with the goal
of coming from any particular political point of view and more with
the goal of achieving "true journalism and news reporting."

Jamanak has always tried to report and interpret the situation in
Turkey -- even when it concerns problems affecting Armenians -- from a
"middle path" perspective and in a level-headed manner. Even during
the most difficult periods, Jamanak embraced pragmatic stances with
the aim of not making already extraordinary times more ruinous and
with the hope of maintaining its position as the very best newspaper
of the Armenian community.

One of oldest Armenian publications in the world

Of course, Jamanak has never been the only newspaper published in
Turkey. But what makes Jamanak so special is that not only is it one
of the oldest dailies published in Turkey, but one of the oldest
Armenian language and minority publications, not just in Turkey,
but in the world.

Of all the Armenian language newspapers published until now, about
half of them have been published in Ä°stanbul. If one considers that
a full 150,000 of Ä°stanbul's pre-1915 population of 700,000 people
were Armenians, one can more fully appreciate the true significance
of the role played by Jamanak for the Armenians of the city. This
newspaper has, after all, been around now for more than half of the
200-year history of the Armenian press and has enjoyed a significant
voice throughout this time.

One of Jamanak's founders, Misak Kocunyan -- writing under the name of
"Kasim" -- brought readers the news of the Armenian massacres in 1896
in both Ä°stanbul and Van. These stories were published under the title
of "From Inside the Fire" or "AteÅ~_in Ä°cinden." Not only did Jamanak
continue to publish through the period of the 1909 Adana massacres,
but in the period around 1915, when most of the newspaper's writers
were either exiled or simply went missing, Jamanak was still able
to bring its readers detailed and important news about the general
direction in which things were going despite an atmosphere of extreme
censorship. In fact, in his memoirs, the former Armenian Patriarch
of the time, Zaven Der-Yegyayan, speaks of how during his own exile,
he was only able to learn what was going on because of Jamanak.

Since its founding, Jamanak has enjoyed contributions from not only
the most important intellectuals of the Armenian community, but also
from famous names worldwide. Some of the most notable include lawyer,
writer and member of Parliament Krikor Zohrap; author of the book
"Unlu Pancuni," Yervand Odyan; feminist writer Zabel Esayan; famous
writers ArÅ~_ak Cobanyan, Hagop OÅ~_akan and Vazgen Å~^uÅ~_anyan;
journalist and photographer Ara Guler; economics professor Vartan
Ozinian and professor of history and linguistics Pars Tuglacı.

The anti-minority policies which first began to appear during the
early years of the Republic picked up great speed during the 1940s. An
important decision was made to use a lottery system for military
conscription that would now include non-Muslim males between the ages
of 25-45. They were inducted into the military, though they were not
granted weapons and were assigned less critical, much lower positions.

The aim in including males of this age group into the armed forces was
to strike a blow at the economic strength held by these non-Muslim
communities. Just three and a half months after this military
conscription practice came to an end on July 27, 1942, the wealth tax
was implemented -- only for non-Muslims. These two back-to-back blows
on the non-Muslim communities of military conscription and taxation
achieved important steps in making the economy more Turkish. Through
these dark times though, despite the fact that everyone was suffering
both financial and spiritual difficulties, the Jamanak newspaper
resisted being turned from its path and continued publishing without

During the 1970s, it should be noted that Jamanak published a very
important novel by writer Zaven Biberyan called "Babam AÅ~_kale'ye
gitmedi" (My father did not go to AÅ~_kale") in segments. It is also
interesting to note that Jamanak was the first newspaper in Turkey
to organize a beauty contest and to distribute prizes through

The Kocuynan family

The Jamanak newspaper has always been run and overseen by the Kocunyan
family. Ara Kocunyan has been a head writer for Jamanak since the
age of 23 and he is the fourth generation of the family to work at
Jamanak. The newspaper has always received considerable assistance from
the women of this notable family, as well. Ara's mother and Managing
Editor Nadya Kocuyan is doubtless one of the family members to have
contributed the most. So fervent were her efforts and contributions
over the years that doubtless many have assumed that she is a member
of the founding family by birth rather than coming to the family
through marriage.

Ara Kocunyan, in addition to interpreting and reflecting so many of the
political, social, and cultural facets within the Armenian community,
has also played a great role in bridge-building between Armenia
and the Armenians in diaspora. In fact, there are many Armenian and
diaspora publications which have been able to report their own news
on developments within Turkey thanks to the role played by Jamanak,
published, of course, in the Armenian alphabet.

Recognition for Jamanak

The celebrations for Jamanak's hundredth year actually went on for
around five years. They concluded with an awards ceremony held last
month in Ä°stanbul that was partially organized by the Anatolian
Culture Foundation and attended by various representatives of
minority, Turkish and foreign press outlets. Some of the events held
in combination with these celebrations included conferences dealing
with Armenian identity and press history in places such as Los Angeles,
New York, Montreal, Paris, Marseilles, Yerevan, Ä°stanbul and several
cities in Germany.

The Turkish Association of Journalists (TGC) awarded Jamanak with the
Nezih Demirkent Special Award and the Catholicos of All Armenians --
the chief bishop and spiritual leader of Armenia's national church,
the Armenian Apostolic Church and the worldwide Armenian diaspora --
sent a special celebratory edict to Jamanak. There were also special
exhibitions in both Ä°stanbul and Yerevan of the first photos taken
by famous photographer Ara Guler as they had been published in Jamanak.

Both President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
also gave extensive interviews to Jamanak to mark the newspaper's
100th anniversary.

When speaking with Ara Kocunyan, I asked him how he felt Jamanak
has withstood the various minority policies and the passage of time
in Turkey. He replied: "This newspaper is one which manages to
balance the various problems and sensitivities our community has
being citizens of the Turkish Republic. It is a publication which
does not force these issues into conflict with one another." With
all due congratulations being extended to the Jamanak newspaper on
the occasion of its 100th year, there are extra congratulations due
to Ara Kocunyan, whose work has become all the more difficult over
the years with dwindling numbers in the Armenian community and fewer
and fewer who maintain ties with the Armenian language.


*Alin Ozinian is an independent analyst.

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