ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)—A Turkish nationalist politician has been sentenced to jail over controversial remarks suggesting “hunting for Armenians” after a concert in June 2015 by the world-renowned Armenian pianist, Tigran Hamasyan, in the ancient city of Ani in the eastern province of Kars.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Garo Paylan had filed a lawsuit against Tolga Adıgüzel, the Kars provincial head of the “Idealist Hearths” (Ülkü Ocakları), which has ties to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), after Adıgüzel suggested “going out to hunt Armenians in the streets of Kars” as a counter-move after the concert.
On May 25, the Kars third criminal court of first instance initially sentenced Adıgüzel to six months in prison, along with a pecuniary punishment of 11,240 Turkish Liras 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. His sentence was postponed by the court.
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.”
Hamasyan and the Yerevan State Chamber Choir gave a concert in Ani, on the Turkish border with Armenia. After the concert, Adıgüzel issued a press statement “strongly” condemning the performance, questioning its “aims,” and accusing its supporters of “treason.”
“Should we go out for hunting for Armenians in the streets of Kars? Can we give a concert at a place that they consider holy, or march our janissary band?” he had said.