A Dark Christmas for Armenians in Turkey

A shadow hangs over the Armenian community of Istanbul as it celebrates Christmas this January 6.  On December 28, one of its oldest members, Maritsa Küçük, was brutally murdered in her home.

Details of the murder are still limited, but press reports suggest the murder was particularly brutal, and that she was stabbed and beaten before, finally, her throat was cut.

A Hate Crime?

Many fear that there is more to the murder. Agos, the main media outlet for Armenians in Turkey, quotes the victim’s son, Zadik Küçük, as saying that he found his mother dead on the floor, with a crucifix carved into her breast [link in Turkish only].

Agos also highlights that this was not the first attack on Armenians in the recent past.  Earlier in the month, a second elderly Armenian woman was brutally attacked and robbed.  Last year, a taxi driver, recognizing that his female customer spoke with an Armenian accent, violently attacked her as he derided her as an infidel.

There is evidence to suggest that the murder of Sevag Balıkçı during his military service by a member of his own unit, on April 24, 2011 was also motivated by racial or religious hatred.  That trial is on-going.

Turkish authorities must push forward with their investigations of these crimes and prosecute those responsible.  And they must do more to eradicate the culture of intolerance and militant nationalism that breeds this violent hatred.

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