Anti-Armenian demonstrations in Beyazit Square

ISTANBUL – (Nor Marmara, Jamanak) – Since the beginning of the attacks by Azerbaijan against Artsakh, public opinion in Turkey has been focused on the military actions in the ongoing war. Anti-Armenian sentiments and slogans, renewed animosity and hatred, anger and protests have broken out in Turkey directed at Armenians in general and the Armenian community of Istanbul.

Cars with Azerbaijani flags in front of the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate

On Monday, September 28, a demonstration took place in the form of a large group of cars which paraded down the street in front of the Armenian Patriarchate in Kumkapı, Istanbul,
bearing Azerbaijani and Turkish flags and honking their horns as they passed in front of the patriarchate building. Early reports attempted to suggest that the demonstration was not aimed at the patriarchate but was there to “send a message” to the population of natives of the Republic of Armenia who live in the Kumkapı neighborhood. The same day, Ömer Çelik, representing the ruling AKP party said that threats against the Armenian citizens of Turkey were not acceptable.

However, anti-Armenian sentiment has continued to spread over the past week and is causing anxiety for the Armenian community of Istanbul. Security officers are stationed in front of all the Armenian churches in Istanbul.

On Monday, October 5, the Nor Marmara Armenian newspaper of Istanbul reported that more anti-Armenian demonstrations had taken place in Istanbul, in both Beyazit Square and in front of the Azerbaijani Consulate in the Besiktas neighborhood.

In Beyazit Square, Azerbaijani and Turkish citizens bought flags, came and joined in a demonstration. After the playing of the Turkish and Azerbaijani national anthems, Can Kitay, one of the organizers of the demonstration, harangued the crowd. Kitay said they were gathered there in solidarity with the “glorious army of Azerbaijan,” and further stated that “Armenia showed herself to be a terrorist country” by “attacking peaceful inhabitants,” and that Armenia had “gotten the response it deserved.” Kitay reminded the crowd of the slogan “two states – one nation” (in reference to Turkey and Azerbaijan) and claimed that thousands had joined up as volunteers to go to the front.

In various neighborhoods, Besiktas in particular, bikers who were showing solidarity with the Azerbaijani army also joined the demonstrations. Protesters gathered in Besiktas in front of Istanbul’s Azerbaijani Consulate and “poured curses on the Armenians, showing solidarity with Azerbaijan.”

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

Meanwhile, member of Turkish Parliament Garo Paylan has been attacked in newspaper ads by a far-right organization, ASAM (a Turkish acronym for Eurasia Strategic Research Center). The ads accuse Paylan of siding with Armenia in the current war. Paylan has responded that he is an activist for peace, and released a statement condemning the Turkish government for engaging in “war propaganda by openly supporting the military conflict” and “resorting to belligerent rhetoric” against Armenia. He also decried the demonstrators who came to the Armenian Patriarchate as “provocateurs.”

He stated that because of these demonstrations and the intimidation of the Armenians in a climate of “hate speech,” Turkey’s Armenian community as well as citizens of Armenia living in Turkey no longer feel safe. Paylan underlined that he has always stood for peaceful solutions to political problems and stated “There are no winners in war and no losers in peace!”

Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: