Anti-Armenian sentiment

Sketch by an eyewitness of the massacre of Armenians in Sasun in 1894

Anti-Armenian sentiment, also known as anti-Armenianism and Armenophobia, is a diverse spectrum of negative feelings, dislikes, fears, aversion, derision and/or prejudice towards Armenians, Armenia, and Armenian culture. Modern anti-Armenianism is usually expressed by opposition to the actions or existence of Armenia, aggressive denial of the Armenian Genocide or belief in an Armenian conspiracy to fabricate history and manipulate public and political opinion for political gain.[1]


Of this photo, the United States ambassador wrote, "Scenes like this were common throughout the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms—massacre, starvation, exhaustion—destroyed the larger part of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under the guise of deportation."

Armenian Genocide and its denial

Although it was possible for Armenians to achieve status and wealth in the Ottoman Empire, as a community they were never accorded more than "second-class citizen" status and were regarded as fundamentally alien to the Muslim character of Ottoman society.[2] In 1895, revolts among the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire led to Sultan Abdül Hamid's decision to massacre tens of thousands of Armenians in the Hamidian massacres.[3]

During World War I, the Ottoman government massacred between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians in the Armenian Genocide.[4][5][6][7] The Turkish government has aggressively denied the Armenian Genocide. This position has been criticized in a letter from the International Association of Genocide Scholars to – then Turkish Prime Minister, now PresidentRecep Tayyip Erdoğan.[8]


Cenk Saraçoğlu argues that anti-Armenian attitudes in Turkey "are no longer constructed and shaped by social interactions between the 'ordinary people' [...] Rather, the Turkish media and state promote and disseminate an overtly anti-Armenian discourse."[9] According to a 2011 survey in Turkey, 73.9% of respondents admitted having unfavorable views toward Armenians. The survey showed an unfavorable stance toward Armenians was "relatively more widespread among those participants with lower levels of education and socioeconomic status."[10] According to Minority Rights Group, while the government recognizes Armenians as a minority group, as used in Turkey this term denotes second-class status.[11]

"The new generations are being taught to see Armenians not as human, but [as] an entity to be despised and destroyed, the worst enemy. And the school curriculum adds fuel to the existing fires."

- Turkish lawyer Fethiye Çetin[12]

The Ankara Chamber of Commerce included a documentary, accusing the Armenian people of slaughtering Turks, with its paid tourism advertisements in the June 6, 2005 edition of the magazine Time Europe. The magazine later apologized for allowing the inclusion of the DVDs and published a critical letter signed by five French organizations.[13][14] The February 12, 2007 edition of Time Europe included an acknowledgment of the truth of the Armenian Genocide and a DVD of a documentary by French director Laurence Jourdan about the genocide.[15]

Hrant Dink, the editor of the weekly bilingual newspaper Agos, was assassinated in Istanbul on January 19, 2007, by Ogün Samast, who was reportedly acting on the orders of Yasin Hayal, a militant Turkish ultra-nationalist.[16][17] For his statements on Armenian identity and the Armenian Genocide, Dink had been prosecuted three times under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for “insulting Turkishness.”[18][19] (The law was later amended by the Turkish parliament, changing "Turkishness" to "Turkish Nation" and making it more difficult to prosecute individuals for the said offense.[20]) Dink had also received numerous death threats from Turkish nationalists who viewed his "iconoclastic" journalism (particularly regarding the Armenian Genocide) as an act of treachery.[21]

İbrahim Şahin and 36 other alleged members of Turkish ultra-nationalist Ergenekon group were arrested in January, 2009 in Ankara. The Turkish police said the roundup was triggered by orders Şahin gave to assassinate 12 Armenian community leaders in Sivas.[22][23] According to the official investigation in Turkey, Ergenekon also had a role in the murder of Hrant Dink.[24]

Accounts of hate speech towards targeted groups in Turkish news outlets with Armenians shown as being targeted the most according to a January–April 2014 Media Watch on Hate Speech and Discriminatory Language Report.[25]

In 2002, a monument was erected in memory of Turkish-Armenian composer Onno Tunç in Yalova, Turkey.[26] The monument to the composer of Armenian origin was subjected to much vandalism over the course of the years, in which unidentified people had taken out the letters on the monument. In 2012 Yalova Municipal Assembly decided to remove the monument. Bilgin Koçal, the former mayor of Yalova, informed the public that the memorial had been destroyed by time and that it would shortly be replaced with a new one in the memory of Tunç.[27][28][29] On the other hand, a similar memorial stays in place at the village of Selimiye, where an aircraft had crashed; and the people in the village of 187 expressed their protest about the vandalism claims regarding the memorial in Yalova, adding that they paid from their own funds to keep up the maintenance of the monument in their village against the wearing effect of natural causes.[30]

Sevag Balikci, a Turkish soldier of Armenian descent, was shot dead on April 24, 2011, the day of the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide during his military service in Batman.[31] It was later discovered that killer Kıvanç Ağaoğlu was an ultra-nationalist.[32] Through his Facebook profile, it was uncovered that he was a sympathizer of nationalist politician Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu and Turkish agent / contract killer Abdullah Çatlı, who himself had a history of anti-Armenian activity, such as the Armenian Genocide Memorial bombing in a Paris suburb in 1984.[33][34][35] His Facebook profile also showed that he was a Great Union Party (BBP) sympathizer, a far-right nationalist party in Turkey.[33] Testimony given by Sevag Balıkçı's fiancée stated that he was subjected to psychological pressure at the military compound.[36] She was told by Sevag over the phone that he feared for his life because a certain military serviceman threatened him by saying, "If war were to happen with Armenia, you would be the first person I would kill."[36][37]

On February 26, 2012, on the anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre a demonstration took place in Istanbul which contained hate speech and threats towards Armenia and Armenians.[38][39][40][41] Chants and slogans during the demonstration include: "You are all Armenian, you are all bastards," "bastards of Hrant [Dink] can not scare us," and "Taksim Square today, Yerevan Tomorrow: We will descend upon you suddenly in the night."[38][39]

In 2012 the ultra-nationalist ASIM-DER group (founded in 2002) had targeted Armenian schools, churches, foundations and individuals in Turkey as part of an anti-Armenian hate campaign.[42]

On 23 February 2014, a group of protestors carrying a banner that said, "Long live the Ogun Samasts! Down with Hrant Dink!" went in front of an Armenian school in Istanbul and later walked in front of the main building of the Agos newspaper, the same location where Hrant Dink was assassinated in 2007.[43][44]

On 5 August 2014, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a televised interview on NTV news network, remarked that being Armenian is "uglier" even than being Georgian, saying "You wouldn't believe the things they have said about me. They have said I am Georgian...they have said even uglier things - they have called me Armenian, but I am Turkish."[45][46][47]

In February 2015, graffiti was discovered near the wall of an Armenian church in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul saying, "You’re Either Turkish or Bastards" and "You Are All Armenian, All Bastards."[48][49][50] It is claimed that the graffiti was done by organizing members of a rally entitled "Demonstrations Condemning the Khojali Genocide and Armenian Terror." The Human Rights Association of Turkey petitioned the local government of Istanbul calling it a "Pretext to Incite Ethnic Hate Against Armenians in Turkey".[48][51] In the same month banners celebrating the Armenian Genocide were spotted in several cities throughout Turkey. They declared: "We celebrate the 100th anniversary of our country being cleansed of Armenians. We are proud of our glorious ancestors."[52][53]

On 20 February 2015, the Mayor of Bayburt Mete Memis called the deeds of Turkish soldiers who massacred Armenians a hundred years ago "heroism." He made a congratulatory statement on the 97th anniversary of Bayburt's sacking, in which its Armenian resident were massacred and exiled as part of the Armenian Genocide, claiming that 97 years ago, the Turkish soldiers in Bayburt had "written their name in history for defending the homeland."[54]

In March 2015, the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek, filed a formal complaint on defamation charges against journalist Hayko Bağdat because he called him an Armenian. The complaint petitioned that the statements by the journalist are "false and include insult and libel."[55] Gökçek also demanded 10,000 liras in compensation under a civil lawsuit against Bağdat for psychological damages, and the lawsuit is now pending.[55]

During the official state funeral of Turkish serviceman Olgun Karakoyunlu, a man exclaimed: "The PKK are all Armenians, but are hiding. I am Kurdish and a Muslim, but I am not an Armenian. The end of Armenians is near. God willingly, we will bring an end to them. Oh Armenians, whatever you do it is in vain, we know you well. Whatever you do will be in vain."[56] Similarly, in 2007, a state-appointed imam, presiding over a funeral of a Turkish soldier killed by the PKK, said that the death was due to "Armenian bastards."[57]

In September 2015, during the Kurdish–Turkish conflict, a video was released which captured police in Cizre announcing on a loudspeaker to the local Kurdish population that they were "Armenian bastards."[58][59] A few days later, in another instance, the Cizre police made repeated announcements on loudspeaker saying "You are all Armenians."[12][60][61]

On 9 September 2015, a crowd of Turkish youth rallying in Armenian populated districts of Istanbul chanted "We must turn these districts into Armenian and Kurdish cemeteries."[62]

In September 2015, a 'Welcome' sign was installed in Iğdır and written in four languages, Turkish, Kurdish, English, and Armenian. The Armenian portion of the sign was protested by ASIMDER who demanded its removal.[63] In October 2015, the Armenian writing on the 'Welcome' sign was heavily vandalized.[64] The Armenian portion of the sign was ultimately removed in June 2016.[65]

In April 2016, Barbaros Leylani, the head of the Turkish Worker's Union in Sweden, referred to Armenians as "dogs" in a public speech in Stockholm, and added: "Turks awaken! Armenian scums must be finished, die Armenian scums, die, die!" (external link of speech (in Turkish))[66][67] Juridikfronten, a Swedish watchdog organization, filed a report to the police due to an "incitement to racial hatred". Thereafter, Leylani resigned from his post.[66]