Sanam Mutafyan In Turkey’s Brutal Assimilation Policy

Sanam Muğdimiyan (nee Mutafyan) was born in Van in 1893. During the Armenian deportations, Sanam along with her brother Vanush was first sent to Van from Diyarbakir, then to Akşehir, and, finally, to Yalvaç.

Sanam became a victim of the Turkish assimilation policy. However, she has always tried to return Armenian children to their roots, and she has fought for the life of orphans in Historical Armenia.

In 1936, as per the 1934 Surname Law, she was given the surname Irten and registered as a citizen of Van. After being forcibly married off to Osman Yagchi, Sanam changed her surname to Yagchi. As Sanam Yagchi, she was registered as a citizen of Izmir. At that point, she was registered under different names in Van and Izmir at the same time.

In 1945, Sanam died in Izmir, and her name was removed from the city’s citizen list. As for the Van list, her name was removed from it in 1964.

The assimilation policy was carried out against many Armenians in Turkey. The policy of assimilation was not limited to a change of name and surname – the authorities forced Armenians and other non-Turk people to change their language, religion, and nationality.

After her marriage, Sanam fled from Izmir to Yalvach, collected her children, and attempted to take them to Van. However, on the way, she was brutally attacked. The children would eventually survive the genocide.

After Sanam’s death, the son of Sanam’s brother Vanush attempted to sort things out through the European Court of Human Rights. Despite what happened in 1915, Vanush’ son sought justice for his aunt Sanam Mutafyan who had been stripped of her citizenship 19 years after her death. This proves that the Armenians do not give up no matter the pressure.

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