Yesterday Nor Zartonk activist Alex Kalk was arrested at the Armenian cemetary Şişli in Istanbul at a commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Only last Saturday he was a speaker at the meeting “Is the Armenian Genocide history?” in Nijmegen, which was organized by Nor Zartonk and Doorbraak.
On 24 April 2011, exactly on the 96th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish conscript soldier of Armenian descent Sevag Balıkçı was shot dead by Kıvanç Ağaoğlu, of Turkish descent. The court ruled that Balıkçı had been killed by accident and that there was no intention to murder him.
In Turkey, journalists, students, activists, academics and Kurdish politicians are arrested and detained for expressing their opinions, but Balıkçı’s murderer was released immediately after the first hearing.
Witnesses to the murder were threatened and pressured by the murderer’s family and senior military personnel to make false statements. Senior officers tried to cover up the murder by drawing up two different reports. Finally, the court acquitted Ağaoğlu. A higher court overturned this ruling, and as a result the trial is still ongoing. The murderer remains at large.
As every year, Nor Zartonk organised a memorial service yesterday at the grave of Balikçı in Istanbul. At the end of the commemoration, the group of activists, together with Armenian HDP MP Garo Paylan who was also present at the commemoration, were stopped by the police. Kalk was arrested for using the word “genocide” in his speech. He was taken by the police, interrogated and released some time later.
In his speech, Kalk stressed that Balıkçı was the victim of a racist murder and that the murderer had not been punished. The fight for justice, equality and fraternity must be continued in order to finally achieve justice, he said, also for all those other innocent people who, like Balıkçı, have been murdered. There is still no peace or freedom in our country, and it is the discourse of hate-mongers, murderers, lynch mobs and genocidal forces that predominates. That hurts us enormously and harms every sense of justice, he said. Finally, Kalk thanked everyone present at the commemoration and called on them to continue to fight together against the system that makes innocent babies into murderers.
The fact that naming the genocide in a speech is sufficient reason for the police to arrest, detain and interrogate someone, shows how the Turkish state policy of denial continues, even 104 years after the genocide of the Armenians.
Although pressure from the Erdoğan regime has increased significantly in recent years, Nor Zartonk will continue to organise the annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide and the murder of Balıkçı. The oppressed continue their fight against racism and against the Turkish state, which is still pursuing its policy of genocide by banning even mentioning the word “genocide”. Resistance to the policy of genocide remains life-threatening. Nor Zartonk’s activists deserve all our support and solidarity.
The pictures of the commemoration below are taken from Özgür Gelecek.