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From 251 to 3: The History of Armenian Publications in Turkey

There were 251 Armenian periodicals published in Turkey in 1915, but after Apr. 24, 1915, the number of Armenian publications dropped rapidly. Nowadays, there are just three Armenian newspapers published in Turkey: Jamanag, Marmara and Agos.

Research done by one writer for the Agos newspaper, Zakarya Mildanoğlu, on the topic, examining Armenian periodicals published during the period leading up to the republican period and then after the republic was founded, will be available in a book called “The History of Armenian Periodical Publications” later this year, reports Today’s Zaman.

Mildanoğlu’s research addresses a topic not much scrutinized until today. The Agos newspaper writer notes that the start of Armenian publication history dovetailed neatly with the creation of the printing press.

Mildanoğlu talks about the first Armenian language books, four religious books published in Vienna in 1512, just 60 years after the invention of the printing press. As for the first Armenian periodical, it was the “Aztarar newspaper” (The Courier), published in 1794 in the Indian city of Madras. In fact, between the years of 1794 and 1980, there were a total of 3,095 Armenian magazines and newspapers published throughout the world in 42 regions and countries. Of these, notes Mildanoğlu, 613 were published in various places in Anatolia. Between the years 1832 and 1980 in Turkey, the highest number of Armenian periodicals could be found in İstanbul, with İzmir in second. Mildanoğlu points to İzmir as being an important center for Armenian press, art, culture and trade.

Mildanoğlu says in the year 1915 there were 251 Armenian press publications in Turkey. Directly in the wake of the events of Apr. 24, however, these numbers declined precipitously, with various Armenian language magazines and newspapers aimed at specific groups such as women, lawyers, theater fans, medicine, and so on, closing down swiftly.

“All of the journalists, writers, caricaturists, everyone involved in publishing these publications, was arrested and killed in 1915. It took time to train new journalists in the wake of all this,” he said.

After 1915, says Mildanoğlu, it was only in three cities that Armenian publications continued to operate: İstanbul, Adana and İzmir. In Mildanoğlu’s opinion, the second blow Armenians received was during the 1950s, with the censorship law, the wealth tax and the events of Sept. 6–7. The wave of emigration of Armenians that took place after these events dealt the final blow to Armenian publications. Today there are three Armenian-language publications published in Istanbul.