By Tuba Candar

16:23, January 29, 2013

Samatya is one those neighbourhoods of Istanbul inhabited by Armenians
and witnessed a series of atrocities that they have been targeted
throughout the last month. The bilingual (Armenian and Turkish)
weekly journal Agos pioneered the media in bringing the aggressive
acts against Armenians in Samatya to the public attention.

Agos is founded in 1996 by Hrant Dink, the journalist that has been
the ardent defender of Armenian minority rights and stood against
the discriminatory policies of the Turkish state. Following his
brutal assassination on 19 January 2007, Agos, remained true to his
intellectual legacy and editorial tradition, in continuing with
determination to bring the problems of the intimidated Armenian
community to the attention of the public opinion.

As the aggressive acts against aged Armenian women perpetuated,
liberal-democratic daily newspapers such as Taraf and Radikal, started
to give large coverage to the Samatya events, following suit of Agos.

Particularly on January 22, when Sultan Aykar, an old Armenian lady
is attacked at her ground floor apartment and another anonymous old
Armenian lady was tried to be kidnapped, the Samatya events finally
captured the attention of the mainstream media like the daily Milliyet
which focused on the developments in depth and gave equally a wide
coverage. While the atrocities in Samatya are presented to the public
knowledge through full page interviews conducted with the inhabitants
of the neighbourhood, the commentators carried the issue to the
op-ed columns.

First in the chain of aggressive acts committed against the Armenian
inhabitants of Samatya had been the beating at the street of an
Armenian lady who is 87 year of age in the beginning of December 2012.

That was followed at the end of the month, on December the 28th when
Maritsa Kucuk, an Armenian old lady was brutally murdered. The victims
have something in common that they are people of very modest incomes.

That fact strengthens the impression, that as opposed what initially
it was, the crimes perpetrated has nothing to do with the intention of
robbery. One other common aspect was that all the women involved were
regular church-visitors and the aggressive acts were committed when
they were returning home from the church in the neighborhood. All
these provided certain evidence that they have been followed by
their aggressors. Devouring real estate which has been initially and
allegedly put forward as the main reason behind the aggressive acts
in Samatya proved to be far from convincing.

As the atrocities found a wide coverage in the main stream media, the
statement of the Governor of Istanbul who interpreted the events as
"individual" acts, similarly, considered as unconvincing. Those who
recall the first official statements on the assassination of Hrant
Dink, who six years ago also on a January day slaine on the pavement
in front his newspaper Agos, will not be satisfied with such an
interpretation. Those official statements had claimed that the murder
of Hrant Dink was not an organized crime, but an "individual act",
committed with no political connection to it.

As a matter of fact, we witness in the last couple of days that the
civil society is getting mobilized. In two separate demonstrations,
thousands of people marched with slogans reflecting the awareness of
the society against those perpetrated crimes against the Armenians.

The slogans read, "Do not touch to my Armenian neighbour", "I don't
let my sister and brother to be touched", "We are one with the Armenian
people", No passage to racism".

Because we do not have sufficient information yet, I do not want to
speculate on by whom the aggressive acts are done and why now. These
events need a serious and thorough inquiry.

I have always said and keep on saying the following: The day Hrant
fell on the pavement of his newspaper in daylight, before the eyes
of us all, with his dead body, he formed a bridge linking 1915 with
the present day. From that moment on, he kept telling us more than he
did while he was alive. Those who wanted to silence him and spared
from him the justice cannot prevent his voice to resonate even more
strongly and higher. The media is no longer like the former, neither
the civil society, nor the Armenian community is like the former
intimidated one! Let me conclude by a tweet of an Armenian citizen
circulated at the social media: "Let it be known that we opened our
eyes in Samatya and will close them in Samatya. Nobody will be able
to send us from there!"

Born in 1948, Tuba Candar completed her education in the United
States after secondary schooling in Austria High School in Turkey. She
graduated from the International Relations Department of the Ankara
University Faculty of Political Science. She lived in Germany
following March 12 military coup. Returning to Turkey, she became
the editor-in-chief of "Bizim Almanca" magazine under Cumhuriyet daily.

She also worked as an editor at "Gergedan" magazine. At Yeni
Yuzyıl daily, she wrote culture and arts and travel pieces. She
had a "Portraits" column in "Gazete Pazar." Her first book about
the life of Mualla Eyubığlu Anhegger, "Hitit Guneşi" (Hitite Sun),
was in 2003. In 2007, she had "Murat Belge Bir Hayat" (Murat Belge
A Life). Her latest book, "Hrant" came out on the birthday of Hrant
Dink on Sept. 15 in 2010.

From: A. Papazian