Violence against Armenians in Turkey is increasing / Nazmi Gür Statement
Araratnews 28.1.2013 – Targeted and brutal violence against the Armenian minority has been increasing in Turkey. For less than two months several attacks against people with Armenian origin resulted in death, serious injuries and fear among the Armenian community.
Roni Alasor, Brussels, 27 January 2013 / Ararat News – Publishing (ANP)-Targeted and brutal violence against the Armenian minority has been increasing in Turkey. For less than two months several attacks against people with Armenian origin resulted in one death and four seriously injured people and provoked fear among the Armenian community. All the victims were old Armenian women.
Ararat News-Publishing (ANP) talked to representatives of the Armenians in Turkey, police authorities, politicians and human rights organisations. Many believe that the murders are organised and it is a racist-hate directed against Armenians. Armenian Orthodox Archbishop in Turkey Aram Atesyan told to Ararat News that the Armenian community is living in fear and unhappiness right now, especially old Armenian women who are afraid to go to the Armenian church: “Our community is in touch with the police and security authorities in Istanbul and in Samatya where the attacks happened. We have been told by the officials that round fifty security people are active in this area. We believe that it is important to find the real perpetrators of these crimes and those who stay behind them. As hard workers and tax payers, we would like to live in peace and safety as citizens of this country together with our neighbours”.
Human rights activists and the Armenian community have been in contact with the police headquarters in Aksaray-Istanbul. They have been told that the police don’t have any facts proving these organised actions, but it can be “individual crime which happens in other parts in Istanbul”. Major of the Fatih municipality in Istanbul, Mustafa Demir told to the Armenian community that they are going to control the Samatya area with the MOBESE-camera. Umit Efe, Chairwoman of Human Rights Organisation in Turkey (IHD) believes this murder and attacks bear clear signs of racism and big hate against Armenians.
Not only were all the victims Armenians, but the body of the second victim Marissa Kucuk has been “carved with a cross”. Talking to Ararat News, Nazmi Gur, Vice President of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Member of the Turkish Parliament from city Van, expressed the serious concerns of BDP about the recent anti-Armenian attacks: “We are observing closely this increasing anti-Armenian violence and we will not tolerate anymore any kind of hate against any ethnic or religious group in Turkey.We will not let crimes from the past be repeated again. Earlier such actions have been also targeted against Jewish and other Christian communities”.
According MP Gur, there are several reasons related to the attacks against Armenians in Samatya: “This area has been historically populated by Armenians. There could be some reasons related with the plans for urbanisation of Samatya. Someone could take advantage from a negative image of the area, from crimes and violence in Samatya. It will certainly decrease the prices of the land in the area and will make easier for the mafia to take control over the urbanisation of Samatya. But in our opinion, whatever motivation stays behind this violence, the attacks bear the traces of ethnic cleansing.”
BDP is preparing to bring the questions of the anti-Armenian attacks in the Turkish parliament this week. One other BDP parlementarian in the Turkish Parliament, Altan Tan, asks Turkey to open the border with Armenia and give citizenship to all Armenians who will like to come back to Turkey. “They have full right for that”, said Altan. On Sunday, BDP’s sister organisation in Turkey, the People’s Democratic Congress (HDK), supported by the democratic-left wing groups, organised a protest action in Samatya in solidarity with the Armenian community in Turkey.
Several parliamentarians and high level politicians from BDP, HDK, representatives of human rights organisations and ordinary people attended the front line of the manifestation under the slogan “Hate is yours! Humanity is ours! Don’t touch my Armenian neighbour!” Among the BDP parliamentarians were Ertugrul Kurkcu, Sebahat Tuncel and the well-known human rights fighter and BDP-politician Akin Birdal. They criticised the police and the authorities for not preventing recidivism.
Ertugrul Kurkcu warned the authorities that “if the security forces don’t do their job, people will take the case in their hands”. Sebahat Tuncel said that “The main reasons for these attacks are the daily racist slogans and the dominant mentality of “one race, one religion, one flag” This language and mentality produce racism and intolerance and make a child a future killer”.
What to do?
Umit Efe, Chairwoman of IHD belives that: “The notion of “high turkishness”, which is so protected by the Turkish law, creates favourable conditions for those who want to attack and intimidate etnic minorities. Ali kills Mouhamed, he goes to prison. But when Mouhamed kills a non-Muslim, than he becomes a hero”. She urges the Turkish Government to ban all kind of racisim and to respect EU and UN international conventions: “The Turkish government has to tackle this question seriously and racism and racist attitudes should be criminalised in the law and to be forbidden. Because the poison of racism begins already when children are starting school. It is important to change the Turkish current laws and to make reforms in the education in order to combat racism, xenophobia, intolerance and extremism in the Turkish society”.
Efe gets support for her views from the Kurdish BDP which will bring the case to the Turkish parliament for eventually new changes in the Turkish laws regarding the mentality of “one race, one flag and one religion.”
Most of the attacks against old Armenian women took place in Samatya area in Istanbul. No one has been detained as responsible for the attacks to the present moment. According a newly published report by Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Committee of Human Rights Organisation in Turkey (IHD), the first victim, 84-years old Turfanda Asik has been beaten to death in her home on 28 November 2012 and lost her eye.
Exactly one month later, on 28 December 2012, 87-years old Marissa Kucuk has been slain.
On 6 January 2013, Armenian Christmas day (Surp Dzınunt), an Armenian lady has been attacked with attempt to be kidnapped. She reported that to the police, but she asked to remain anonymous because of her security.
Ilker Sahin, 40 years old, a computer teacher in the Armenian Aramyan Uncuyan Primary School has also been killed in his apartment. Reports don’t mention that Sahin was Armenian, but many believe that the main reason can be that he was working in an Armenian school and he was close to the Armenian community.
On 22 January 2013, 80-years old Sultan Akar has been attacked and heavily beaten.
On 23 January 2013, another old Armenian lady has been attacked and injured. Police questioned two witnesses, a mother and a daughter. But the Armenian ladies were afraid to give her name or to complain. IHD and the Armenian community in Istanbul could not identify the lady and they believe that she left her home. Hate crimes and ethnic based violence against Armenians are not a new phenomenon in modern Turkey in the last ten years. Alongside with the murder of the well-known Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, many other, less known Armenian victims lost their life in “accidental way”. Among them was Sevag Şahin Balıkçı who was killed on 24 April 2011, on the Armenian Genocide day in Batman during his military service.