ISTANBUL — Residents, civil society groups and political party representatives gathered in the central square of Istanbul’s Samatya neighborhood on Sunday to protest a number of attacks committed against elderly Armenian women in their homes over the past few months, one of which resulted in a death, with police failing to capture the assailants.
Organized by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Turkey’s main Armenian organization, the march saw Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies Ertugrul Kürkçü, Sabahat Tuncel and Sirri Süreyya Önder, former chair of the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) Ufuk Uras and Hrant Dink’s brother Orhan Dink participate.
“Don’t touch my neighbor” and “I will not let you hurt my brothers and sisters” read some of the signs held by the protesters. The march drew support from members of Istanbul’s other minority communities, including Syriacs, Kurds and religious conservatives
The crowd also lay carnations in front of the apartment building of one of the victims, presumably that of Maritsa Küçük, who was brutally murdered in her apartment.
All the speakers condemned the police department and accused it of covering up the reality behind the attacks.
Five women were attacked in the past two months. Police say there is no ethnic targeting, claiming that only three of the women attacked were Armenian. But civil society groups insist that the events were no ordinary cases of robbery, as nothing valuable was taken from the houses of the attacked women. There were also claims that the attacks could have been perpetrated by construction mafia seeking to prevent elderly homeowners from holding up new constructions in the region.
However, the message in Sunday’s march was clear, with most protesters saying they did not buy the police’s interpretation of the events.
On Saturday, a group of 30 members of the Freedom and Democracy Party (ÖDP) protested the attacks in front of the Kocamustafapasa Train Station. ÖDP Istanbul provincial branch secretary Çiçek Çatalkaya in a speech she made here referred to the attacks as “racist and fascist,” and asserted that these were not isolated incidents. “We know that these attacks are not related to profit seekers from urban renewal projects. We know this because the blood that was shed on this land 100 years ago has still not dried,” Çatalkaya said, in reference to the 1915 massacre of Armenians in Turkey’s Southeast.
The first attack in the past few months was on Nov. 1, 2012. A woman named Gönül A. was beaten by an intruder, and her valuables were stolen. On Nov. 28, Tuivat A. (87) was attacked inside her house. She lost one eye in the attack and her valuables were also taken. On Dec. 28, Maritsa Küçük (85) was brutally murdered in her house, where she lived alone. In the fifth attack, Sultan Aykar (80) was stabbed as she entered her house.

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