Struggling to elect a Patriarch for the last 10 years, the Armenians of Turkey have gone to polls today and elected Sahak Masalyan as the 85th Armenian Patriarch of Turkey.
Expressing their demands to elect a new Patriarch since 2008, when the late Armenian Patriarch of Turkey Mesrob Mutafyan started having health problems, the Armenians of Turkey fulfilled the last stage of electoral process today (December 11) and elected the new Patriarch.
Competing with Aram Atesyan, Sahak Masalyan has been elected the new and 85th Armenian Patriarch of Turkey by receiving the votes of 102 of 119 delegates. As the election came to an end, "Hrashapar" service will be held for the newly elected Patriarch at 5 p.m. today.
About Sahak Masalyan
He was born as Sahin Masali in Bayrampasa, Istanbul in 1962. He was baptized as Sahan and "sanctified" with the name "Sahak Masalyan" when he entered religious service in 1992.
In 1979, he qualified to study at the Department of Electronic and Communication Engineering of Istanbul Technical University (ITA). Deciding to be a priest in 1982, he left the ITA and started learning Armenian at the age of 20.
He became a high priest (Vartabet) in 2006 and Episcopos in 2008. He came back to Istanbul 2011.
Returning to Istanbul, he became the Interchurch and Interreligious Relations Officer of the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey.
He was elected the Patriarch Sub-Governor on July 4, 2019. He is working as a religion teacher at Sahakyan Armenian High School.
In addition to Turkish and Armenian, he can also speak English. As part of his religious education, he also works in Greek, Latin and Hebrew.
Plain-clothes police positioned in front of Patriarchate
Qualified to vote in today's polls as delegates in the election held on December 8, the delegates representing the Armenians of Turkey came to the Armenian Patriarchate in Yenikapi, Istanbul in early morning hours today.
Several undercover police officers were in front of the Patriarchate.
Adding a new article to the bylaw ahead of this election, the Ministry of Interior has prevented candidates from abroad from entering the election.
Reactions against the decision of non-objection
The decision of the Patriarch Sub-Governor and Patriarch candidate Episcopos Sahak Masalyan to not object to the election of enterprising committee was severely criticized by the Armenians of Turkey.
There were also the ones who resigned from the committee.
The committee also agreed to hold the election in this way; however, the Armenians of Turkey concur that it has cast a shadow upon the election.
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After the Ministry of Interior issued the above-mentioned bylaw, several people and institutions have argued that the process is not secular and filed a lawsuit, requesting a halt to the the process.
While one of the individual applications made in this process has been rejected, the judicial processes initiated by other applicants still continue.
Nor Zartonk group also released a statement entitled "We Don't Want a Trustee Patriarch" and made a call for boycott.
Delegates supporting Masalyan in the majority
According to a statement by the Patriarchate about the election of delegates on December 8, 13 thousand 704 people cast ballots to elect delegates.
In the delegate election, the delegates supporting Patriarch Sub-Governor Episcopos Sahak Masalyan were in the majority.
Speaking about the electoral process, Tatyos Bebek has indicated, "The community should hold these elections, it should do this within itself. But, it is never possible." He has also expressed his wishes that this process will be to the benefit of Armenian people.
The patriarch election crisis
Former Patriarch Mesrop Mutafyan had been suffering health problems since 2008. The government replaced him with Aram Ateshian in 2010 because Mutafyan was unconscious in the hospital and could not perform his duties.
While the patriarch's severe health problems remained stable for more than 9 years, an election decision was made in October 2016 at the request of the Armenian community. In March 2017, the Karekin Bekchiyan was elected the Governor of the Patriarchate to take the Patriarchate to the elections.
The Ministry of Interior did not respond to a petition for the elections that were sent in August 2017. Meanwhile, Atashian did not resign despite the beginning of the election process.
The Governorship of Istanbul announced that proceedings regarding the election of Bekchiyan are invalid and all the decisions taken by Bekchiyan will be declared invalid. It called Bekchiyan the "so-called governor of the Patriarchate.
Istanbul Governorship then canceled the election of the Patriarch. Karekin Bekchiyan, who received the approval of the majority of the Armenian community, said, "The dark campaigns have reached a very ugly extent. I am afraid that this attitude will further deteriorate and even corrupt our society." After the decision, Bekchiyan left Turkey.
Following the death of Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan on March 8, the process began to elect the new Patriarch.
Source: English Bianet