Istanbul Activist Kayuş Çalıkman Gavrilof: “I don’t see Mashalian breathing any new life into the community”
According to Istanbul native and community activist Kayuş Çalıkman Gavrilof, only 36% of eligible voters cast ballots to elect a new Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople.
"Yes, no matter the different numbers reported, most of the people, especially the youth, did not want to participate in this ridiculous theater. Everything was staged from the beginning of August. The play was already written. Mashalian was to become patriarch. The rest was pure show,” says Kayuş Çalıkman Gavrilof.
On December 11, Bishop Sahak Mashalian was formally elected the 85th Armenian Apostolic Patriarch of Constantinople.
Voting in the election process took place in two stages.
On December 9, Armenian citizens of Turkey voted for delegates to participate in the December 11 conclave to elect the next According to the Istanbul based Agos newspaper, the orange list (Bishop Sahak Mashalian) received 9,008 votes, the purple list (Archbishop Aram Ateshyan) received 3,529 votes. The orange list thus received 89 delegates, and the purple list 12 delegates.
On December 7, the Religious Council elected 17 delegates to participate in the December 11 election.
In a telephone conversation with Hetq after the December 8 vote, Kayuş Çalıkman Gavrilof said that Mashalian's supporters had celebrated their victory by singing and dancing.
In September of this year, it was announced that the Turkish Ministry of Internal Affairs had placed a restriction on the order of the election of a patriarch, according to which only bishops and archbishops subordinate to the Patriarchate of Istanbul could participate. This meant that Archbishop Sebouh Chouldjian, a native of Malatia, was not eligible to run in the elections.
When asked why the Turkish authorities took this step, the Istanbul-Armenian politician alleged that the change was initiated by several Armenian community leaders to block the election of Archbishop Chouldjian.
Chouldjian stated as much recently, claiming to enjoy widespread support in the Armenian community of Turkey.
"The unquestionable truth is that I was the real reason for this stage show to change the bylaws. The support I enjoy of a large portion of the Armenian faithful in Turkey would have been decisive in the election,” Chouldjian had declared.
Gavrilof, who ran on the Turkish People’s Democracy Party ticket (Halkların Demokratik Partisi, HDP for short) in the March 30, 2014 Turkish local elections, says she supported Archbishop Chouldjian and that many in the Armenian community backed him as well.
“Mashalian will extinguish what exists today”
Last May, during a discussion with Hetq about the patriarchal election process, Kayuş Çalıkman Gavrilof said that the Armenian community in Istanbul needs a breath of fresh air.
Asked if Bishop Sahak Mashalian could be that new breath of air, Kayuş Çalıkman Gavrilof sounded a pessimistic note.
"I would like to believe I’m mistaken, but I don’t see Mashalian breathing any new life into the community. On the contrary, I fear he will extinguish that which exists no. Developments fuel my concerns. Let’s see.”
Kayuş Çalıkman Gavrilof says she has no expectations from Mashalian since she doesn’t trust the man.
“How can you have confidence in a high-ranking clergyman who declared that he sacrificed his manhood for the community. To what extent can a person who has neglected the interests of his spiritual brethren and has not stood up to those conspiring against and shackling the future of a community of 50,000 with twelve bishops truly lead his flock.”
We should also note that Garo Paylan, an Armenian MP in the Turkish Parliament, referring to the election of the Patriarch on his social networks, stated that he would not vote and would not recognize the elected Patriarch.
"The names of those state officials who played with our honor, as a toy, the clergy and leaders who interacted with them, will be forever recorded in the black pages of history" Paylan wrote.