Anti-Armenian Acts on the Rise in Turkey

Anti-Armenian hate speech graffiti appeared on the walls of an Armenian church, around the same time as the Mayor of Ankara called Armenians “disgusting.” All this ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

The St. Mary’s (Sourp Astvadzadzin) Church in the Bakirköy neighborhood of Istanbul was desecrated with hate speech graffiti that read “1915, a blessed year,” reported Today’s Zaman newspaper.
Another message on the church was read: “What does it matter if you are all Armenian when there is already one Ogün Samast,” referring to the convicted killer of Hrant Dink, after whose death many Turks took to the streets with placards that read “We are all Dink. We are all Armenian.”


Turkish-Armenian journalist Hayko Bagdat

Today’s Zaman wrote that its reporter visited the site on Wednesday morning and found that the graffiti had been painted over. But an administrator at the church said, “This type of thing happens all the time.” The Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul refused to comment on the matter. No criminal complaint has been filed.

The incident comes hot on the heels of another racist slur against Armenians in Turkey. It was reported on Tuesday that Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek had filed a criminal complaint against Turkish-Armenian journalist Hayko Bagdat on defamation charges after Bagdat posted lighthearted tweets on his Twitter account referring to the mayor as an Armenian after the March 2014 local elections.

Gökçek appears to believe it an insult to be called an Armenian as his lawyer petitioned the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office, saying, “The statements [by Bagdat] are false and include insult and libel.”

Ankara mayor says being called an “Armenian” is an insult.

Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek has filed a criminal complaint against Turkish-Armenian journalist Hayko Bagdat on defamation charges, after the latter jokingly posted tweets referring to him as an Armenian after the March 2014 local elections.

According to the Diken website and the state-run Anadolu news agency, Gökçek’s petition to the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office stated that Bagdat, who has more than 300,000 followers on Twitter, wrote a series of posts in the wake of Gökçek’s victory in last year’s March elections. One of Bagdat’s messages said: “It is official; they gave the capital city to an Armenian. What a shame!” according to the petition.
The petition also said a Twitter hashtag “melihgökçekermeniymis” (Melih Gökçek turns out to be Armenian) was allegedly used by Bagdat in his tweets on the social media website.

Gökçek’s lawyer said in the petition that the mayor is “a citizen of the Turkish Republic who loves his country and his nation” and that Bagdat is aware of this. “The statements [by Bagdat] are false and include insult and libel,” the petition said.

In addition, the mayor filed a lawsuit with the court claiming that he was insulted by being called “Armenian.”

Gökçek also sued Bagdat in civil court, demanding compensation of 10,000 liras for psychological damages. Bagdat announced the lawsuit on Twitter, saying: “Turns out Melih Gökçek sued me demanding 10,000 liras for calling him “Armenian, dude. We are going to have so much fun.”

Persecution is on the rise in Turkey, especially after government passed a security package expanding police powers, along with an online surveillance law and a discretionary fund for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to fund covert operations.
The parliament voted to approve security laws that allow police to conduct searches and arrests without immediate court orders and use firearms against militants. The law separately empowered government-appointed governors to order police or paramilitary forces to conduct searches and detain suspects for up to 48 hours without immediate court orders, state-run Anadolu Agency said. Protesters are banned from carrying fire crackers, firebombs, iron pellets and slingshots, along with covering faces during demonstrations.

The online surveillance law will allow police to keep wiretapping or monitoring online activities of suspects without court orders for 48 hours.