ISTANBUL — A Turkish nationalist politician has been jailed over controversial remarks suggesting “hunting for Armenians” after a concert last year by a renowned Armenian pianist in the ancient city of Ani in the eastern province of Kars, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Garo Paylan had filed a lawsuit against Tolga Adigüzel, the Kars provincial head of the “Idealist Hearths” (Ülkü Ocaklari), which has organic ties to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), after Adigüzel suggested “going out to hunt Armenians in the streets of Kars” as a counter-move after the concert.
The Kars third criminal court of first instance initially sentenced Adigüzel to six months in prison, along with a pecuniary punishment of 11,240 Turkish Liras (about $3,800) on May 25 on charges of “overtly insulting some segments of the public based on difference of social class, race, religion, sect, sexuality or region.” The court then increased the sentence to seven months and fifteen days as the crime was committed via the media, which carries a heavier sentence.
Paylan described the court ruling as “hopeful” both for Armenians and for all parts of society in Turkey that believe in social peace and justice, vowing to fight against “all kinds of racist remarks and hate speech.”
On June 21, 2015, after world renowned Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan and Yerevan Chamber Choir performed at Ani, Adigüzel made a statement to the press. He said, “Do you want us to go and hunt Armenians in the streets of Kars?” and pointed the performers as targets with racist statements.
“Recently, some strange human pieces of garbage dressed as priests performed at Ani. I vehemently, regretfully and strongly condemn that concert. What is their purpose? Who does support them inside our country? Who are the treacherous journalists who cooperate with them? Everybody must know their place and mind their steps! Are these traitors testing our patience? Do you want us to go and hunt Armenians in the streets of Kars? Would they let us to perform in a place that is sacred for them? For now, we don’t do such things, but this doesn’t mean that we won’t. We are keeping what happened in our minds.”