KARS, Turkey (A.W.)—A Kars court sentenced Tolga Adıgüzel, the chair of the Kars chapter of the ultranationalist Ülkü Ocakları (commonly referred to as the Grey Wolves) organization, to six months in prison, along with a fine of 11,240 Turkish Liras (approximately $3,800 USD) 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,” reported Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper. According to the report, the court later increased the sentence to 7 months and 15 days since Adıgüzel’s crime was committed through the media, which carries a harsher sentence. However, his sentencing was postponed by the court, reported Hurriyet.
Adıgüzel had asked, “What should we do now? Should we start a hunt for Armenians in the streets of Kars?” after world-renowned Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan performed a concert at the ruins of Ani on June 21, 2015. Ethnic Armenian member of Turkey’s Parliament and People’s Democratic Party (HDP) member Garo Paylan filed an official complaint against Adıgüzel last summer.
Paylan said that the court’s decision was “hopeful” for Armenians and for sectors of Turkish society that believe in social peace and justice, and are willing to fight “all kinds of racist remarks and hate speech,” according to Hurriyet.
At a July 2015 parliamentary press conference, Paylan said that several examples of hate speech have turned into hate crimes. “Each hate speech crime that goes unpunished pushes people to ‘dove’s skittishness’ and lays the ground for hate crimes,” he was quoted as saying. During the press conference, Paylan said that no prosecutor in Turkey has yet taken a real initiative regarding hate speech and hate crimes, and that as a result these crimes have largely remained unpunished. “The recent discourses aiming to create hatred and enmity against the Armenian community in Kars and the LGBT community in Ankara constitute a clear and imminent threat against the right to life,” said Paylan.
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West