Former officials of bar association acquitted of charges over statement on Armenian Genocide
The former officials of the bar association of Turkey's Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir were acquitted by a Turkish court on Monday after they faced charges over a statement they had published four years ago on the occasion of the anniversary of the beginning of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
The officials were accused of "degrading the Turkish Nation, the State of the Turkish Republic, and the institutions of the state."
Cihan Aydin, former chair of the bar association, said in his defense statement in the court that while the Armenian community in Diyarbakir in early 1910s constituted 34% of the the city's population, they currently number 10-15.
"The question we are trying to answer is, 'What happened to the Armenian population?' This is our approach to the matter. Our statement was a call to come to terms with the truth. We do not care about the political conjuncture, like the politicians do. We care only about the truth and about coming to terms with it. The motivation of our statement was to encourage all people in these lands to live together in peace."
After Aydin was heard, the prosecutor called for the acquittal of the accused. They were subsequently acquitted by the Diyarbakir court.
The current officials of the bar association had released a statement on 24 April 2021, in strong criticism of the ongoing trial of the former officials. They had said:
"While Diyarbakir Bar Association's 45th term executive council is still facing charges because of the statements they published in 2017 and 2018, in acknowledgement of the Armenian community's sorrows, the 46th term executive council is currently under the threat of being subjected to a criminal investigation because of the statements they published in 2019 and 2020."
"However, a catastrophe and a suffering do not change no matter how we name it. We may name it "Medz Yeghern," like the victims did, or "Fermana Filla,"* as we heard from our grandfathers and grandmothers, or "Genocide," as Polish lawyer Raphael Lepkin said he authored after he was inspired by what had been done to the Armenian people. The truth will not change."
* The Kurdish word "fermana" indicates a death order by a high authority, while "filla" is a term that was used for non-Muslims.