2012 Istanbul rally to commemorate the Khojaly massacre

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Coordinates: 41°02′13″N 28°59′09″E / 41.03694°N 28.98583°E / 41.03694; 28.98583

2012 rally to commemorate the Khojaly massacre
Date February 26, 2012 (2012-02-26)
Location TurkeyTaksim Square, Istanbul, Turkey
Participants 350,000 including Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin and Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu[1]

A rally commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the 1992 massacre of Azerbaijani civilians by Armenian and CIS forces (of former Soviet republics) took place in Istanbul on 26 February 2012. It was the largest campaign within "Justice for Khojaly" framework.[2] The demonstration with slogan "We are all from Khojaly" (Azerbaijani: "Hamımız Xocalılıyıq", Turkish: "Hepimiz Hocalılıyız")[3] started in front of Galatasaray High School[4] and lasted several hours in Taksim Square (Istanbul, Turkey) with around 200 000 participants.[5]

The rally however took a very racist tone as many members of the crowd displayed anti-Armenian slogans containing hate speech and chanted violent threats towards Armenians.[6][7][8]

"Justice for Khojaly" campaign[edit]

"Justice for Khojaly" or shortly "JFK" is the International Awareness Campaign, initiated on 8 May 2008 under the motto of “Justice for Khojaly, Freedom for Karabakh[9] The website of the JFK campaign allows internet users to sign a petition to world leaders "to recognize the Khojaly Massacre as a crime against humanity and to fight injustice in the world".[10] The petition has been signed by more than 143 500 users online as of 27 December 2012. In total, around 1 million people joined this campaign[11]


Around 200 000 participants[5] for the 20th anniversary remembrance of the Khojaly Massacre victims,[12] dozens of youth and student organizations, public unions, Turkish organizations and movements participated in the rally. The number of participants was expected to be in the tens of thousands[13] including Azerbaijanis and Turks,[14] while more than 200 000 people of other ethnic backgrounds also joined the rally. The resolution of the rally was read during the protest urging the organizers of the Khojaly Massacre to be punished according to international law.[15] The Istanbul police dispatched heavy security to the French Cultural Center on İstiklal Avenue, where demonstrators were marching, fearing possible attacks on the building.[16] The participants were mainly Turks and their aim was to show solidarity with the Azerbaijani people[17]

The rally was attended by nationalist organizations and political parties such as the Nationalist Movement Party, Ulku Ocaklari, and the Alperen Ocaklari (a youth branch of the far right Islamic Great Union Party party).[6] Security was increased around the Greek and French consulates whilst the road leading towards the Agos newspaper office was blocked off.[6][18] Attendance estimates ranged from 20,000[19] to 100,000 by the organizers.[20]

Istanbul governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu attended the rally, and it was addressed by the Turkish Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin who said: There has never been a stage for such a courageous, honoured, determined, peaceful and brotherly meeting. I salute you! Welcome, shall your unity be everlasting![21][22][23][24] Various slogans included, "We are all from Khojaly", "Stop Armenian aggression";,[25] "Do not forget Turkic people genocide by Armenian gangs in southern Azerbaijan",[26] "One nation, two countries, Justice for Khojaly!",[27] "Stop Armenian lies".[27]

Protesters later dispersed without any incident.

Racist slogans[edit]

Some elements of the crowd displayed anti-Armenian slogans containing hate speech and chanted violent threats towards Armenians.[6][7][8][28][29][30][31] The anti-Armenian chants and slogans used by elements of the crowd included : You are all Armenian, you are all bastards; Bastards of Hrant cannot scare us; Today Taksim, Tomorrow Yerevan, we can come suddenly at night; Let Armenia be gone.[31][7] Some chants supported Ogun Samast, the convicted assassin of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.[6][7][8][32][33][34][35][36]

Students at the Süleyman Demirel University in Isparta reportedly chanted Mount Ağrı will become your grave.[37]

Related events[edit]

  • Simultaneously, the Youth Forum of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) opened an exhibition of photos and paintings in Istanbul within the framework of an international campaign titled Justice for Khojaly.[38] The exhibition takes place at the Taksim Metro Station Exhibition Hall.[39]
  • To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Khojaly massacre, thousands of people gathered in the Turkish capital city Ankara as well.[40]


The Armenian National Committee of America condemned the rally and urged the United States Ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone, to immediately condemn the demonstration.[41][42] The Agos bilingual Turkish Armenian newspaper similarly condemned the demonstrations and organized a demonstration on 4 March calling for 'an end to racism' and 'brotherhood for all peoples'.[43]

The Union of Socialist Azerbaijanis of Turkey issued a statement noting that the events surrounding the Khojali demonstrations should not be used "as a tool to deny the Armenian Genocide". A union member claimed in the Taraf newspaper : that the government of Azerbaijan had subsidized the travel costs for some of the participants in the demonstration at a cost of about US$ 2 million.[44][45][46]

On February 27, the head of Parliament’s Human Rights Commission, Ayhan Sefer Ustun, called on Turkey’s prosecutors to take action against protesters who held up racist signs at the rally.[29] He told journalists that the hateful messages "completely devalued" the commemorative nature of the event.[29]

The European Union raised concerns regarding the anti-Armenian slogans. A statement by the European Commission urged Turkey and its media to adopt a code of ethics on respect to religious minorities and the necessity to adopt new legislation to prosecute the incitement of hatred.[47]


On 18 April 2012 the police in Istanbul arrested nine people in connection with the protests. They were released after stating that just before the demonstrations they were handed the offending banners by people unknown to them.[48]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Indirvideo.net: Taksimde 350 Bin TÜRK Hepimiz Hocalıyız! dedi
  2. ^ TurkishClass.com: Tens of thousands remember victims of Khojaly Massacre in İstanbul
  3. ^ Стамбул: Ходжалинская трагедия - 20 лет спустя. 26.02.2012, фоторепортаж с площади Таксим
  4. ^ Vestikavkaza.ru: В Стамбуле на стотысячном митинге почтили память трагедии в Ходжалы
  5. ^ a b News.az: ‘We are all from Khojaly’ rally in Istanbul draws nearly 200,000 - PHOTOS
  6. ^ a b c d e "Azeris mark 20th anniversary of Khojaly Massacre in Istanbul". Hurriyet. February 26, 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012. One banner carried by dozens of protestors said, “You are all Armenians, you are all bastards.” 
  7. ^ a b c d "Khojaly Massacre Protests gone wrong in Istanbul: ' You are all Armenian, you are all bastards '". National Turk. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c "Racism at Taksim: You are all Armenian, you are all Bastards!". Radikal. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  9. ^ JusticeForKhojaly.org: ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN
  10. ^ JusticeForKhojaly.org: Petition to world leaders
  11. ^ Aze.az: Кампания «Справедливость к Ходжалы» соберет в следующем году около миллиона подписей
  12. ^ Demotix.com: Thousands protest Khojaly Massacre - Istanbul
  13. ^ Turkishnews.com: ‘We expect ten thousands of people to join Khojaly rally in Istanbul’
  14. ^ Todayszaman.com: Thousands to stage rally in İstanbul commemorating Khojaly Massacre
  15. ^ Кавказский узел: В Стамбуле состоялась акция памяти Ходжалинской трагедии
  16. ^ WorldBulletin.net: Tens of thousands in İstanbul remember Khojaly Massacre victims / PHOTO
  17. ^ Associated Press (February 26, 2012). "Turks mark anniversary of attack in Karabakh war". CNSNews.com. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  18. ^ Akyol, Mustafa (March 3, 2012). "Insulting Armenianness". Hurriyet. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  19. ^ "20,000 protestors mark Karabakh in Istanbul". AFP. Emirates 24/7. February 26, 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  20. ^ "Investigation launched into racist slogans in İstanbul's Khojaly rally". Zaman. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  21. ^ "NGO files complaint against minister". Hurriyet. February 29, 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  22. ^ "You are all Armenians, you are all Bastards!". haberruzgari. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  23. ^ "The Interior Minister enticed the crowd". Demokratik Haber. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  24. ^ "Turkey Special: The Government Supports a Hyper-Nationalist --- and Threatening --- Protest". enduringamerica. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  25. ^ Emirates247.com: protestors mark Karabakh in Istanbul
  26. ^ GulfToday.ae: Thousands of Turks mark Karabakh war deaths
  27. ^ a b Kanalb.com.tr: Taksim'de Hocalı Katliamı Protesto Edildi
  28. ^ Ayazoglu, Serkan (2012-02-27). "Hepiniz Ermenisiniz hepiniz piçsiniz'". Taraf (in Turkish). Retrieved 27 December 2012. Translated from Turkish: The rally whose original intent was a commemorative event for Khojaly victims turned into a racist rally (ırkçı gösteriye dönüştü). 
  29. ^ a b c "Racism mars Khojaly protest in Taksim". Zaman. 4 March 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  30. ^ "Hocalı protestoları devlet desteğiyle ırkçı gövde gösterisine dönüştü". Hristyan Gazete. 2012-02-27. Retrieved 27 December 2012. Title translated from Turkish: The Khojaly protestors turned the protest into a racist show of force with the support of the government. 
  31. ^ a b "Protests in Istanbul: "You are all Armenian, you are all bastards"". LBC International. 2012-02-26. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  32. ^ "Evening out one misery with another". Hurriyet. February 28, 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2013. “We are all Ogün Samast” 
  33. ^ "Hocalı protestolarında Samast ve Çatlı sloganları". Evrensel (in Turkish). 2012-02-26. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  34. ^ ""Hepiniz ermənisiniz, hepiniz piçsiniz" deyənləri 3 il həbs gözləyir". Qafqaz Info (in Azerbaijani). 2012-04-20. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  35. ^ Ince, Elif (2012-02-27). "In Taksim just hating was not enough". Radikal (in Turkish). Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  36. ^ Ayazoglu, Serkan (Feb 27, 2012). "Hepiniz Ermenisiniz Hepiniz Piçsiniz". Haksoz Haber (in Turkish). Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  37. ^ "Translated from Turkish: And if a University Student Could Do This!". Radikal (in Turkish). 2012-02-27. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  38. ^ Todayszaman.com: International exhibition ‘Justice for Khojaly’ staged in central İstanbul
  39. ^ TheFreeLibrary.com: "Justice for Khojaly" exhibition opens in Istanbul subway station
  40. ^ BBC.co.uk - Nagorno-Karabakh: Remembering the victims of Khojaly
  41. ^ "ANCA CONDEMNS ANTI-ARMENIAN PROTESTS IN TURKEY". ANCA. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  42. ^ "ANCA Condemns Anti-Armenian Protests in Turkey". Armenian Weekly. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  43. ^ "Nefret Sizin Insanlik Bizim". Bianet (in Turkish). Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  44. ^ "Azerbaijan spends $2 million for anti-Armenian protest in Istanbul". February 29, 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  45. ^ "Sosyalist Azeriler'den eylem". Etkin Haber Ajansi (in Turkish). Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  46. ^ "ERMENÝYE KÜFÜR ÝÇÝN 2 MÝLYON DOLAR". HaberRuzgari. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  47. ^ Gultasli, Selcuk (2 March 2012). "EU concerned about racist slogans against Armenians at İstanbul rally". Zaman. Brussels. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  48. ^ "Nine anti-Armenian protesters detained in Turkey". hurriyetdailynews. April 18, 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012.