Racism mars Khojaly protest in Taksim

Tens of thousands of Turks and Azerbaijanis were out in force in İstanbul to stage what they called “an unprecedented massive rally” to mark the 20th anniversary of the Khojaly massacre. (PHOTOSUNDAY’S ZAMAN, Mehmet Yaman)

March 04, 2012, Sunday/ 12:41:00

A large rally held on Sunday at İstanbul’s Taksim Square with the attendance of tens of thousands of Azerbaijanis and Turks to commemorate a brutal massacre of Azerbaijanis on Feb. 26, 1992, when the Armenian armed forces literally wiped Khojaly, a town in Nagorno-Karabakh, off the map, also saw acts of racism and discrimination.

At the rally, some of the protestors held signs with remarks that targeted Armenians. One read, “You are all Armenians, you are all bastards,” referring to the phrase, “We are all Armenians,” used for the first time when Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was assassinated in 2007.

On Monday, the head of Parliament’s Human Rights Commission, Ayhan Sefer Üstün, called on the country’s prosecutors to take action against protesters who held up racist and discriminatory signs at the rally.

Üstün, speaking to journalists, said some of the slogans at Sunday’s rally praised the murderer of Dink and were about Armenians. “The posters there contained completely racist, discriminatory expressions that were hateful.”

He also stated that the “ugly signs” held up by protestors during the demonstration invalidated what was being done. “Whatever is necessary [for justice regarding Khojaly] should be done, but that crowd shouldn’t have used those expressions. It completely devalued what was being done. We always say Turkey will be a great state. It will embrace all colors. We always say we are striving for the ideal of coexistence. But it is unacceptable that such racist language is being used -- that other people are being insulted.”

Azerbaijani authorities say 613 Azerbaijanis were brutally killed and hundreds are still missing when Armenian troops rushed into the village of Khojaly on Feb. 26, 1992.

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