ISTANBUL – Thousands of intellectuals and politicians participated in a march organized on Sunday, January 27 in Istanbul’s Samatya district to protest against the beating and killings of elderly Armenian women.
The march drew support from members of Istanbul’s other minority communities, including Syriacs, Kurds, and religious conservatives, who joined Armenians to bring awareness to a slew of recent violent attacks levied against the Armenian community members. As part of the march, flowers were left in front of the home of 84 year-old Maritsa Kuck. who was murdered last month in her home.
Organized by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Turkey’s main Armenian organization, the march saw Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies Ertgril Kurk, Sabahat Tuncel, and others, including former chair of the Freedom and Solidarity Party, Ufuk Uras and Hrant Dink’s brother Orhan Dink.
They said they would closely follow and negotiate with the Interior Minister about the incidents and they asked the questions why all the victims were Armenians. I hope the plots behind these incidents will be investigated efficiently and [the truths] could be revealed. Elderly and defenseless are targeted; it is evident that the motivations behind them are hate and revenge, said one of the deputies.
Fear has spread within the Armenian community due to the attacks resulting in a limited number of people attending religious ceremonies, according to leaders from Samatya’s Armenian Church, Sourp Kevork. Yesayi Demir, leader of Sourp Kevork Church, said they were often in contact with security forces. “The investigation is ongoing, we hope the incidents hate crimes,” Demir said, adding that the demonstration was a positive step since it gave a message of solidarity.”
“Civil initiatives are manipulating the incidents even though the offenders have not been identified yet,” Arsen Arsik, an Armenian academic from Bogazici University who is an acquaintance of two of the victims, said. “Such comments disturb the [Armenian] community even more.” Arsik also criticized his own community. “Why do people leave our defenseless elderly people alone? We have to come up with a rational solution to it.”
On Dec. 28th. 2012, Maritsa Kucuk, was stabbed seven times before having her throat slit while in her home in Samatya. Two separate attacks were carried out in the past month against elderly Armenian women in the Samatya and Bakirkoy districts as well. One of the women, 87 year old, Turfanada Aik, lost an eye, while the other woman was robbed and severely injured. Most recently, 84 year old, Sultan Akyar was attacked in Samatya, after which she underwent eye surgery.
The Crowd Placed Wreaths
The crowd also lay carnations in front of the apartment building of one of the victims who was brutally murdered in her apartment.
All the speakers condemned the police department and accused it of covering up the reality behind the attacks.
There were also claims that the attacks could have been perpetrated by construction mafia seeking to prevent elderly homeowners from holding up new constructions in the region.
However, the message in Sunday’s march was clear, with most protesters saying they did not buy the police’s interpretations of events.
On Saturday, a group of 30 members of the Freedom and Democracy Party protested the attacks in front of the Kocamustafapasa Train Station.
Istanbul provincial branch secretary Atalkaya in a speech she made here referred to the attacks as “racists and fascists,” and asserted that these were not isolated incidents. “We know that these attacks are not related to profit seekers from urban renewal projects. We know this because the blood that was shed on this land 100 years ago has still not dried,” Atalkaya said, in “reference to the 1915 massacre of Armenians in Turkey’s Southeast.