Statue of Humanity

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Statue of Humanity under construction

Statue of Humanity (Turkish: İnsanlık Anıtı, Armenian: Մարդկության հուշարձան, lit. 'Monument of Humanity') was a nearly completed statue in Kars, Turkey. Created by Turkish artist Mehmet Aksoy, the 30 m (98 ft) tall monument stood atop Kazıktepe, across from the ancient Castle of Kars. Visible from neighboring Armenia, the statue depicted two halves of a man, each reaching to hold the other’s hand.[1][2] The monument was demolished in April 2011, only months after being criticized by then–prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a "freak"[3] or "monstrosity".[4]

Background[edit]

The statue was commissioned by the Kars municipality as a gesture of reconciliation in Armenia–Turkey relations following the Zurich Protocols, a 2009 accord to establish formal diplomatic recognition between the two countries.[4][5] Then–mayor of Kars, Naif Alibeyoğlu (tr), referred to the statue as "his dream," that would help bring together the "brothers and sisters" of the two nations.[6]

Demolition[edit]

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described the monument as a "freak"[3] or a "monstrosity" (Turkish: ucube) during a visit to Kars on 8 January 2011.[4] In spite of protests, the city authority decided to remove the statue.[3][5]

On 26 April 2011, demolition works in form of dismounting the sculpture's two heads, which Armenian sources considered effectively a decapitation.[7] Aksoy also said "I felt as if my children were being beheaded."[4] An official statement by the demolition company stated: "In order to dismantle it, first the head will be cut off and taken down with the help of a crane. Then, in the following ten days, the statue will be dismembered into 20 pieces."[8] The demolition was completed on 14 June 2011.[9]

While Erdoğan insisted that this was merely a question of aesthetics, international observers believed the demolition an attempt to appeal to nationalist sentiment ahead of the 2011 general election,[10] concurring with Aksoy, who said Erdoğan was "maneuvering to consolidate his reactionary base in the run-up to elections," and that he "bagged the vote of local Azeris," who denounced extending a hand to Armenia.[4]

Aftermath[edit]

As a response to Erdoğan's comments, Aksoy filed a lawsuit against Erdoğan for insulting him. Erdoğan's lawyer claimed it was a critique rather than an insult, but on 3 March 2015, an Istanbul court fined Erdoğan 10,000 Turkish lira for the insult, a ruling that was termed "a refreshing move by the Turkish judiciary" by oppositional commentator Sibel Hürtaş.[4] Aksoy announced he would spend the money for a Nevruz Day party with his friends,[11] thereby directing haram (Arabic for "immoral") money to its adequately haram purpose.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alyanak 2012, p. 35.
  2. ^ "Monument to symbolize peace, unity". Turkish Daily News. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Turkey-Armenia friendship symbol being demolished". BBC News. 26 April 2011. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Sibel Hürtaş (10 March 2015). "Erdogan fined $3,800 for insulting peace monument". Al Monitor. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "İnsanlık Anıtı yıkılacak". Hurriyet (in Turkish). 9 January 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2011. 
  6. ^ Alyanak 2012, p. 36.
  7. ^ Nanore Barsoumian (11 May 2011). "‘Ucube’ Decapitated in Kars: ‘Monument to Humanity’ Demolition Underway". Armenian Weekly. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  8. ^ "İnsanlık Anıtı Direniyor" [Statue of Humanity Withstands]. Anadolu Ajansı. 25 April 2011. 
  9. ^ Alyanak 2012, p. 33.
  10. ^ "Two vast and ugly blocks of stone". The Economist. 13 January 2011. 
  11. ^ Umut Erdem (5 March 2015). "Artist ‘to party with’ Erdoğan’s money". Hurriyet Daily News. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 

Literature[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°36′39″N 43°05′10″E / 40.61083°N 43.08611°E / 40.61083; 43.08611