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Fethiye Cetin
Fethiye Cetin
"Only when all the involved institutions are investigated, will we be able to find the real instigators of the Dink murder."

Fethiye Cetin is one of the best-known human rights advocates and liberal lawyers in Turkey. She was born in Elazig in Eastern Anatolia and graduated from the Faculty of Law at Ankara University. She has been an active member of the Istanbul Bar Association's Executive Board for Human Rights. For many years Cetin was Hrant Dink's lawyer; she currently represents his family in the trial against the Dink murderer(s).

Fethiye Cetin grew up in a Turkish Muslim family. It was only as an adult that she learned about her own Armenian roots. Most of the men in her Armenian grandmother's village had been killed in 1915. Her grandmother, a child at the time, had been sent on a death march along with the other women and children. She was torn from her mother's arms (and saved) by a Turkish gendarme, who adopted her as a Muslim daughter.

In her book, "My Grandmother" (2004), Fetiye Cetin tells the story of how Heranush, her Armenian grandmother, grew up as Seher, a Muslim girl.


"My Grandmother"

Cetin writes about the moment of her grandmother's death, which made her decide to write the book:

"A man from among the male throng came over in a flurry and asked: "What are the names of Aunt Seher's mother and father?" There was no immediate answer to this question from the group of women. We each gazed at the others. Our silence went on for a noticeably long time. Then finally, the silence was broken by one of the women, my aunt Zehra: "Her father's name is Huseyin, her mother's Esma." As soon as she uttered these names, my aunt turned her eyes to me as if asking for affirmation, or so it seemed to me. Just as the man turned away, relieved finally to have extracted an answer from this strangely reticent crowd of women, the following words tore themselves from my heart and broke out of my mouth: "But that's not true! Her mother's name is not Esma, it is Isquhi. And her father is not Huseyin, but Hovannes!"

A large number of Turks throughout Anatolia could tell similar stories today. Cetin has been receiving hundreds of letters and e-mails from people with a similar family history. "My Grandmother" was translated into French, English, Italian, Armenian, Greek and German.

October 2008

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