A hundred or so mourners gathered on April 24 beneath heavy clouds in an Istanbul cemetery at the grave of a 25-year-old soldier, murdered exactly six years ago, on the anniversary of the World War I massacre of Armenians.
Sevag Balıkcı, an ethnic Armenian, was shot to death by a fellow conscript in the Turkish army on the day that Armenians mark as genocide remembrance day. His family believes his killing was a hate crime. “Sevag was the last victim of the genocide,” said his mother, Ani Balıkcı. “It was a threat against all of us who have stayed in these lands.”
The previous week, a court awarded Balıkcı’s parents about $11,000 in compensation, finding the soldiers’ commander had failed to train and supervise them properly. A criminal case continues, but the ruling has done little to lift the Balkıcıs’ hopes for justice.
Balıkcı’s death, and the official response, underscore how the century-old massacre of Armenians by Ottoman troops continues to haunt modern Turkey. Turkish officials insist that the mass killings by Ottoman troops do not amount to genocide.
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