|Sevag Şahin Balıkçı|
April 1, 1986|
|Died||April 24, 2011
|Cause of death||Bullet wound|
|Resting place||Şişli Armenian Cemetery|
Sevag Şahin Balıkçı (April 1, 1986 – April 24, 2011) was a Turkish soldier of Armenian descent who was killed during military service. The incident occurred on April 24, 2011, the day of the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
Sevag Balıkçı was killed in Batman, southeastern Turkey where he was serving his last 23 days as a conscripted private. According to official reports from military commanders in Batman given to the Balıkçı family, Sevag was killed unintentionally while "joking around" with his friend. The family believed the initial reports and claimed that their son should not be considered a martyr since he died accidentally. Sevag's fiancée did not believe in the initial report because her conversations on the phone with Sevag suggested a different version of the events. The funeral was at the Feriköy Surp Vartanants Armenian church. Attendees of the funeral included Rakel Dink (wife of murdered Armenian journalist Hrant Dink), Government Minister Egemen Bağış, Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül, top military commanders, and other politicians like Adalar Mayor Mustafa Farsakoğlu. He was buried in the Şişli Armenian Cemetery.
According to Balıkçı lawyer Cem Halavurt, an investigation conducted on May 1, 2011 into the background of the suspect Kıvanç Ağaoglu revealed that he was an ultra-nationalist through his internet social networks which were shut down after the incident. Through his Facebook profile, it was discovered that he was a sympathizer of nationalist politician Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu and Abdullah Çatlı, who himself had a history of Anti-Armenian activity such as the Armenian Genocide Memorial bombing in a Paris suburb in 1984. His Facebook profile also showed that he was a Great Union Party (BBP) sympathizer, a far-right nationalist party in Turkey.
The ongoing court proceedings take place at the 2nd Air Force Command Court Martial Court in Diyarbakır. The Balıkçı family is represented by lawyer Cem Halavurt while Kıvanç Ağaoglu is represented by lawyer İbrahim Gök. The Balıkçı family insists that the shooting was not accidental but intentional and the suspect should be charged with murder. The Turkish Military Prosecutor’s Office demands a nine-year sentence for Kıvanç Ağaoğlu, and on a charge of “murder as a result of negligence.” Kıvanç Ağaoğlu continues to deny all charges of first-degree murder insisting that his gun went off accidentally. Upon suspicion of negligence among the commanders at the military station, non-commissioned officer Sadrettin Ersöz who is represented by lawyer Yalçın Torun is also charged with negligence in the alleged killing.
During the trial's first hearing on July 24, 2011, Kıvanç Ağaoğlu was set free. During the trial an eyewitness provided details regarding the shooting. The eyewitness testified that Kıvanç Ağaoğlu threatened Sevag by saying, "I will kill you fatty!".
During the trial's fifth hearing on December 27, 2011, testimony emerging from Halil Ekşi, a conscripted soldier who was serving in the same military unit as Sevag Balıkçı, stated that Balıkçı's death was not accidental as the official reports suggest, but intentional. This was a reversal of Ekşi's original testimony which portrayed the killing as an accident. He changed his position because his "conscience didn't allow" (vicdanım elvermiyor) him to continue with the original testimony. The testimony also suggested that Halil Ekşi was visited by Kıvanç Ağaoğlu's uncle Bülent Kaya who wrote the testimony with Ekşi himself, suggesting pressure was applied towards the eyewitnesses. The Balıkçı family lawyer Cem Halavurt declared that a new lawsuit will be filed against the uncle and sister of Ağaoğlu for the obstruction of justice. The judge during the hearing also stated that it was a "matter of honor" for him to reach a fair verdict in the case.
Testimony given by Sevag Balıkçı's fiancée on March 30, 2012 stated that he was subjected to psychological pressure at the military compound. His fiance was told by Sevag through telephone conversations with him 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". According to the testimony, Sevag was also under pressure to convert to Islam.
During the trial's ninth hearing on November 5, 2012, defense lawyer İbrahim Gök requested a media ban on all further hearings. Prosecuting attorney Cem Halavurt rejected the proposal stating that "If there is a press ban in this court, will Turkey stop talking about the Armenian issue? Or will people not talk about deaths in the army? This is why we demand that the press ban be overruled. Even if we don't like certain thoughts, we should treat them as part of free speech in a democratic society." İbrahim Gök claimed that the trial was becoming "politicized" and that the case has nothing to do with the events of 1915 (referring to the Armenian Genocide). The request for a press ban was rejected.
On March 26, 2013 a court ruled that the incident was accidental and sentenced Kıvanç Ağaoğlu for four years and five months in prison.
A justice initiative was launched in Turkey devoted to the case of Sevag Balıkçı. Members of the panel include the mother of Sevag, Ani Balıkçı, Arat Dink, Kerem Kabadayı, Ufuk Uras, Rakel Dink, and others. The initiative protested the court's decision in letting suspect Kıvanç Ağaoğlu free and proclaimed that Sevag was murdered due to a hate crime. Kerem Kabadayı remarked that "If this hate crime goes unpunished, the Armenian youth in Turkey will be under threat."
- "Ethnic Armenian Soldier Shot on ‘Genocide Day’, Radikal Reports". Bloomberg. Original from Radikal. Apr 25, 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- "Armenian private killed intentionally, new testimony shows". Zaman. 2012-01-27. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- "Doubts emerge in death of Armenian-Turk soldier". Hurriyet. 01/30/2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- "Military holds official funeral for fallen soldier at church". Zaman. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- "Sevag Balıkçı'nın annesi: Tetiği çeken o ellerle yan yana oturuyorum...". T24 (in Turkish). 03.11.2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- "Court ruling will show how Turkey sees Armenians, says Balıkçı's mother". Zaman. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- "Turkish-Armenian soldier to be laid to rest Wednesday". Zaman. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- "Halavurt: "Sevag 24 Nisan'da Planlı Şekilde Öldürülmüş Olabilir"". Bianet (in Turkish). May 4, 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2012. ":Translated from Turkish: "On May 1, 2011, after investigating into the background of the suspect, we discovered that he was a sympathizer of the BBP. We also have encountured nationalist themes in his social networks. For example, Muhsin Yazicioglu and Abdullah Catli photos were present" according to Balikci lawyer Halavurt."
- "Sevag Şahin'i vuran asker BBP'li miydi?". Firatnews. May 4, 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2012. "Translated from Turkish: Lawyer Halavurt said, "On his Facebook profile we discovered videos of Muhsin Yazicioglu. We also came upon nationalist and racist arguments, articles, video clips, and data"
- "‘Sevag 24 Nisan için kurban olarak seçildi’". Agos (in Turkish). 20 April 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. "Title translated from Turkish: Sevag Balikci was selected as another martyr of April 24. Quote from article: "We learned that Kivanc Agaoglu had nationalistic sympathies""
- "Title translated from Turkish: What Happened to Sevag Balikci?". Radikal (in Turkish). Retrieved 29 December 2012. "Translated from Turkish: "We discovered that he was a sympathizer of the BBP. We also have encountered nationalist themes in his social networks. For example, Muhsin Yazicioglu and Abdullah Catli photos were present" according to Balikci lawyer Halavurt.""
- "Sevag’ın Ölümünde Şüpheler Artıyor". Nor Zartonk (in Turkish). Retrieved 29 December 2012. "Title translated from Turkish: Doubts emerge on the death of Sevag"
- "Sevagin Katili Serbest Birakilmis". Bianet. Retrieved 2 January 2013. "Quote from article: "The first hearing was held at the 2nd Airforce Commandment Court Martials in Diyarbakir"
- Dogan, Yonca Poyraz (31 January 2012). "Armenian private’s family: Sevag was killed intentionally while serving army". Zaman. Retrieved 3 January 2013. "The family of a young man of Armenian descent shot dead by another private while serving in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have said they believe that he was intentionally killed, after new evidence changed the course of the trial."
- "Turkey’s court again does not sentence murderer of Armenian soldier killed in Turkish army". News.am. February 14, 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- "Sevag Balıkçı killed because of commanders’ negligence?". PanARMENIAN.Net. May 4, 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- "Sevag'in Katili Serbest Birakildi". Demokrat Haber (in Turkish). July 11, 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2012. "Titled translated from Turkish: Sevag's killer is set free."
- Istemil, Huseyin (08.08.2011). "Sevag’ı vuran asker serbest". Taraf (in Turkish). Retrieved 30 December 2012. "Title translated from Turkish: The killer of Sevag is set free."
- "‘Kazara’ öldürülen Sevag Şahin Balıkçı anıldı". Ajans (in Turkish). Retrieved 30 December 2012.
- "Sevag'ı Öldürmekten Sanık Er Serbest". Bianet (in Turkish). Retrieved 30 December 2012.
- "‘I Will Kill You, Fatty!’". Armenian Weekly. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- "'Seni vururum tombulum'". Sabah (in Turkish). 07.08.2011. Retrieved 29 December 2012. "Title Translated from Turkish: I will kill you fatty!"
- "'Sadece hakikati öğrenmek istiyoruz'". Radikal (in Turkish). Retrieved 29 December 2012. "Title Translated from Turkish: All we want to know is the truth."
- "Sevag İçin Adalet Girişimi: Sevag Nefret Cinayetine Kurban Gitti". Baskahaber (in Turkish). Retrieved 29 December 2012. "27 Aralık 2011 tarihinde bir tanık, "Vicdanım elvermiyor" diyerek ifadesini değiştirdi."
- "Sevag'ın ölümündeki sisi dağıtan pişmanlık". Radikal (in Turkish). Retrieved 29 December 2012. "Translated from Turkish: The family of Kıvanç, especially his uncle, told me to speak in favor of the defendant Ağaoğlu."
- "Trial resumes as key witness in Armenian-Turkish soldier death changes testimony". PanArmenian.net. January 30, 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2013. "“We are going to file a criminal complaint about Ağaoğlu’s sister and uncle and open a new lawsuit. Kıvanç runs the risk of getting arrested in this trial, and that is what we are going to request,” Halavurt said."
- "Fiancé of Armenian soldier killed in Turkish army testifies before court". News.am. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- "Nişanlıdan 'Ermenilerle savaşırsak ilk seni öldürürüm' iddiası". Sabah (in Turkish). 06.04.2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. "Title Translated from Turkish: From the fiance: If we were to go to war with Armenia, I would kill you first""
- "Askeriyeyi karıştıracak Ermeni iddiası". Sicak Gundem (in Turkish). 04/06/2012. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- "Sevag Balıkçı Davasında Adli Tıp Raporu Bekleniyor". Bianet. Retrieved 30 December 2012. "Title translated from Turkish: In the trial of Sevag Balikci, a forensics report awaits."
- "Sevag Balıkçı davasında adalet 2013'e kaldı". Radikal. 06/11/2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012. "Title translated from Turkish: The Trial of Sevag Balikci Continues in 2013"
- "Court rules death of Turkish Armenian private an accident". Zaman. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
- "Initiative launched in Turkey for Armenian soldier killed in Turkish army". Hayernaysor. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- "Sevag İçin Adalet Girişimi: Sevag Nefret Cinayetine Kurban Gitti". SonDakika (in Turkish). Retrieved 29 December 2012. "Title translated from Turkish: Sevag Balikci died from a hate crime."