News regarding a wave of attacks on Armenian women in Istanbul only slowly filtered out of the Armenian press in Turkey. The Turkish press initially gave the cases little attention. Meanwhile, Turkish officialdom has consistently maintained that these are no hate crimes but simple robberies or, according to some, “possible provocation.”
It is certainly possible that these crimes are, in fact, simply aimed at robbery. Istanbul is, after all, a huge, cosmopolitan city, with all the pleasures and dangers that a big city can offer.
Still, there are elements to these crimes that give one pause. Even by the standards of a big city, the case of octogenarian Maritsa Küçük, left dead in her apartment, naked and riddled with stab wounds, is a particularly horrific crime.
For many, the brutality of the attacks, along with the fact that Armenians are a routinely vilified minority in Turkey suggest that these attacks are, in fact, racially motivated. This past week, anti-racism and human rights groups in Turkey demonstrated in protest.
As highlighted in statement earlier this week, Amnesty is concerned that Turkish authorities may be pre-judging its investigation into these crimes, insisting that no racial motivation is evident. As the statement underlines:
The Turkish authorities have an obligation to investigate any alleged racist and/or religious bias behind the perpetration of these crimes. A failure to do so may amount to a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights, ratified by Turkey, and the prohibition of discrimination set forth by it…. [The] authorities must carry out a thorough investigation into these attacks without discarding the possibility of hate motivation from the outset and take steps to prevent further attacks.