Standing Up for Our Soldiers
BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
I was thrilled and inspired when I read that the Armenian community in Bolis, under the banner of a recently founded organization, Nor Zartonk (New Renaissance), had organized, publicized, and held a demonstration to call on Turkey’s judicial authorities to actively pursue the case of Sevag Balikji’s murder by his comrade-in-arms in the Turkish army, Kvanj Aghaoghloo.
You’ll remember that this killing had occurred on April 24, 2011, and was supposedly an accident. The case is still pending and the killer is out of jail, after only three months, on his own recognizance because the court has found he doesn’t pose a flight risk.
Of course, it is VERY heartening that the Armenian community in Turkey feels confident enough to hold a demonstration. When was the last time that happened, in the 1890s? This speaks well both of our compatriots there and even Turkey’s reformism, too.
But, the real issue is Sevag’s murder. The case is being dragged out. The Turkish media has reported that the murderer had connections to right wing movements in the country. Remember, Hrant dink’s killer had such connections, too. And while all this may seem conspiracy-mongering, the possibility of something nefariously hidden can NOT be dismissed in a country such as Turkey where the Ergenekon case (hundreds of Turkish military folk accused of being involved in illegal activity to keep the military’s hegemony over Turkish government intact) is still wending its way through the courts.
And speaking of the Turkish media, one columnist there has observed that a mass hysteria has befallen Azerbaijan, citing as proof the treatment axe-murderer Ramil Safarov upon his repatriation as a prisoner to Azerbaijan by Hungary.
It’s Also encouraging that various voices inside Hungary are rallying to this cause. Let’s help them find a way for their government to atone for that heinous error in judgment. Perhaps, as I’ve seen suggested elsewhere, the best way to do so is for Hungary to become the first country to formally recognize Artaskh’s independence.
Of course none of this misbehavior by the usual culprits in Azerbaijan and Turkey, coupled with Hungary’s foolishness, should lead us to forget that Armenia’s own military has been plagued with a rash of non-combat deaths. While a few people have been penalized for this, the root problems still exist. Fundamental respect for soldiers is insufficiently developed in the armed forces’ internal culture. No doubt some of the culprits are thrilled to have the focus taken off them by all the attention focused on Gourgen Margaryan’s murderer’s deification by Azerbaijan’s megalomaniacal president. Let’s not let this most important group of people off the hook.
Perhaps it’s time that Armenians retired from all countries’ armed forces take up the cause of standing up for those of or compatriots serving in the military anywhere, if they are threatened by the sorts of hazing and death that has been exposed over the last few years. Come on veterans, get busy and stand up for soldiers’ rights.