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Vakifili is the only remaining ethnic Armenian village in the province of Hatay in Turkey, from 6 Armenian villages located at the foot of Mount Musa. Before the bloody events of 1915, six Armenian villages were inhabited by 6,000 Armenians. French warships transported about 4,000 Armenians, surviving a 40-day Musa Dagh resistance, to Egypt. After the defeat of Turkey in World War I, they again returned to their homeland in 1919. However, in 1939 the province, including six Armenian villages of Musa Dagh, passed to Turkey.

Residents in Musaler emigrated from the province and settled in Lebanon, giving their districts names, each commemorating one of the villages of Musa Dagh.

However, residents of Vakifli village chose to stay. Today it is the only village where the Armenian language is sounded. A total of 135 Armenians are living in a small village. Avetis Demirchyan, a 97-year-old occupant of village was the youngest witness of Musa Dagh resistance. He does not remember everything clearly, as he was a 2-year old child. The man speaks Armenian, French and Arabic languages and is singing the anthem of Armenia and patriotic songs.

“In 1915 we were taken to Egypt where we stayed until 1919.  Turkey was defeated in the war and we were asked where we want to move. We chose to return to Musa Dagh. There were six Armenian villages here, but in 1939 France gave the province to Turkey. Most Armenians fled their native villages, but we stayed here,” the man said in an interview with Armenian News-NEWS.am.

Demirchyan has two daughters and three sons, but none of them lives in Vakifli. They all left for Istanbul, Germany and Canada. The famous painter Artin Demirchi is Avetis Demirchyan’s son. “His surname is Demirchyan, however, Turks cut the particle “yan”,” said the old man.

Artin Demirchi’s works have been exhibited at 30 private and 10 joint exhibitions in various cities around the world. 

“There was an Armenian school in our village, but my father did not send me to school. I shepherded but learnt to speak and write in Armenian on my own,” the old man said, singing Armenia’s anthem, as well as national liberation songs.

“In 1979 I came to homeland and stayed at “Armenia” hotel for16 days. A person then told me to eat, drink, enjoy oneself, but ordered not to ask political questions,” the man said.

Armenians of Musa Dagh, about 5000 people, arrived in Armenia in 1946-1947. In 1972, “Ginevet” town near Etchmiadzin city was renamed Musaler. On September 16, 1976 a memorial dedicated to Musa Dagh resistance opened on a hill near Musaler.

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