April 30, 2019 - 12:37 AMT
Armenian activist detained in Turkey for using the term ‘Genocide’

A prominent Turkish-Armenian activist was taken into custody last week for using the term “genocide” during a requiem service on Armenian Genocide commemoration day, The Armenian Weekly reports.

Nor Zartonk activist Alexis Kalk was attending the annual memorial service of Sevag Balıkçı, a soldier who was murdered on April 24, 2011 while serving in Batman, Turkey. Members of the Armenian community including Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP, Garo Paylan, were at the Şişli graveside service.

At the cemetery, Kalk spoke briefly about Balıkçı’s murder, calling it a hate crime—an allegation the Turkish courts have denied despite sufficient evidence and testimony. Kalk also emphasized the continued push for justice for those oppressed by Turkish violence and the victims of the Armenian Genocide. “We will continue the struggle for justice, equality and brotherhood for all those victims of murder, Sevag Şahin Balıkçı and those sacrificed during the Armenian Genocide,” said Kalk.

According to Nor Zartonk member Murad Mıhçı, Kalk was taken into custody after dinner with friends that same evening. He was approached by police on Halaskargazi Street, a main thoroughfare in Şişli; police asked Kalk if they could speak to him about his remarks earlier that day. They took him into custody, interrogated him and released him soon after taking his statement. According to two other sources, Paylan accompanied him to the police station.

Nor Zartonk claims the police induced extra pressure on Kalk because his remarks were delivered right before the Armenian Genocide commemoration scheduled to take place later that evening in Şişhane for the first time ever. Demonstrations previously held at Haydar Pasha station and Istiklal Boulevard were banned by the government this year.

April 24, 1915 is the day when a group of Armenian intellectuals was rounded up and assassinated in Constantinople by the Ottoman government. On April 24, Armenians worldwide commemorated the 104th anniversary of the Genocide which continued until 1923. Some three dozen countries, hundreds of local government bodies and international organizations have so far recognized the killings of 1.5 million Armenians as Genocide. Turkey denies to this day.