Down with Humanity! ‘Freakish’ Statue to Be Demolished in Kars

(A.W.)—The Kars Municipal Assembly deliberated on the fate of the controversial Statue of Humanity in late January and decided to demolish it. While members of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) opposed its proposed demolition, representatives from the other two parties, which included 11 members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and eight members of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), voted in favor, reported Anatolian News Agency on Feb. 1.

The Turkish-Armenian friendship statue in Kars will be demolished. (Photo: Khatchig Mouradian)

Thus, the fate of the statue seems to be sealed, unless an intervention stops the demolition.

The statue, the work of renowned Turkish sculptor Mehmet Aksoy, consists of two figures—meant to be one—standing face-to-face, with one extending a hand to the other.

In a Jan. 8 visit to Kars, Erdogan fueled a debate on the future of the monument when he declared it a “freak” and “abomination,” and called for its demolition and replacement with “a beautiful park.”

“They have placed an abomination next to the Mausoleum of Hasan Harakani. They erected a strange thing,” the prime minister was quoted as saying in the Hurriyet newspaper.

Authorities also claimed the statue lacked a zoning permit, and that it stands on a historic 16th-century military site.

According to Aksoy, he created the sculpture to acknowledge the pain rooted in the division between Turkey and Armenia, and to promote peace, brotherhood, and rapprochement between the two countries.

The decision to demolish the statue was reached despite recent efforts by two mayors to transport the statue to their districts. Hacibektas, a small district in the Central Anatolian province of Nevsehir, asked that the monument be moved to its district.

Similarly, Mayor Cevat Durak of Karsiyaka, the Aegean district of Izmir, expressed his wish to have the monument transferred to his area. “We would cover all the costs. The monument would eventually be placed in Karsiyaka’s nicest neighborhood, Zubeyde Hanim, thus bringing a solution to the problem,” he was quoted as saying.

On Jan. 26, Hurriyet reported that the debated statue would be moved across Turkey to Karsiyaka, However, the latest report puts that story to rest.

At the onset of the recent debates, Aksoy claimed that the 100-foot-tall and 300-ton-heavy statue could only be destroyed by placing dynamite inside it, inevitably harming its surrounding. Sources have claimed authorities are exploring alternative ways to demolish the statue.

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian was the editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2014 to 2016. She served as assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2010 to 2014. Her writings focus on human rights, politics, poverty, and environmental and gender issues. She has reported from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabagh, Javakhk and Turkey. She earned her B.A. degree in Political Science and English and her M.A. in Conflict Resolution from the University of Massachusetts (Boston).
Nanore Barsoumian

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  1. This sounds unrealistic, but we should transport the statue to our border, and ask sculptor Mehmet Aksoy to make a minor change to the statue; bend the arm up at the elbow, and the hand showing what is called “The Bronx Cheer” with a huge middle finger. Of course, to add dramatic effect the finger can be painted red to depict the blood of the million and a half Armenians. A bronz plaque at the foot of the statue should read, WE WILL NOT FORGET.

  2. I’m really ashamed of this government, even my country, people. This country is still like under Nazi rule, ultra nationalism never ended. People like me are desperate against nationalists, they are very powerful and they always had the US behind their back.

  3. I see this statue as one that is before its time… a turkey is not yet capable of being any kind of a good neighbor (in any manner) to many nations – for any length of time… evidenced by all a turkey’s on again/off again alliances.  Too, converting cathedrals and churches of Christian Armenians to become turkey’s museums… which probably, too, will exhibit much of our own Armenian culture as a turkey’s own culture… (An exhibit in the highly recognized Metropolitan Museum of Art in the USA – in New York city – several years ago presented a turkish exhibition. When Armenians came to view the turkish culture recognized that the exhibit was a blatant lie -(seems lying continues as a trait of a turkey’s leadership).  For the exhibit  was of the Armenian culture… all stolen/presented as turkey’s – claimed as turkey’s… ongoing/unending… today.
    Today turkeys lie.  For until today the turkeys culture, was/is built upon all the glories of the ancient and advanced peoples that the turkeys endeavored to eliminate – for turkeys came without any history of themselves from the Asian mountains (even today).  Too, all the wealths of the Armenians’ lands, homes/properties and all furnishing of the Armenians of their civilized homes (following planned slaughters, rapes and worse) was plundered/stolen to become then as if all were ‘worthy’ the killer turks.  Owning all that belonged to a peoples they had eliminated in order to gain  that which existed for centuries – before any turkeys left their Asian mountains. For .today’s wealthy turks forbears had, in fact, moved in and – as if due and owing – seized rights to possess all that was of the Armenians. Today, lying, still cannot admit their forbears guilt for committing the planned and perpetrated Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation… deliberately instigated… knowingly, stealing all that was of Armenia as if a turkey’s… Too, while all the Armenian bones, still unburied give evidence of the evil horrors of Genocide.  Bones awaiting justice from the world’s civilized nations who, together, shall seek the end of the cycle of Genocides – who, together, need to recognize the vile crime of Genocides – who, together, will bring such criminals to face their crimes, to face justice… Waiting,  all those bones unburied with a need that justice be served – together, too, to end the cycle of Genocides – forever. Manooshag

  4. Cihan,
    There are nationalists in every group and country, but the real problem is when such people are found in positions of power in great numbers.

  5. All of you have forgotten the most accurate and thought provoking expression. “Where the Turks walk the grass never grows.” 
    What a shame for Turkey. If one scratches the surface of Turkish nationalism, it is corruption of the soul. Look to the faces and bone structures of contemporary Turks. How many of them have Armenian, Circadian, Assyrian, Kurdish and many others. Yet they have to find out what or who a Turk is. Throughout centuries, rape, kidnappings forceful conversions have created a mixture of people, a country that sits on the ruins of other nations and yet, time could NOT turn this arrogant, barbaric, chameleon contraption called Turks into a little bit gentler and contemplative nation.
    OH, they can demolish everything. They are used to ruin other civilization and claim to own the ancestry of others.   

    • Anahid Keusseyan, agree with you. the problem for the turk is they’re are born on a lie and the will die with a lie. the truth is much more than they know how to bear.

  6. Anahid Keusseyan, I understand that you are angry and you call Turks barbaric. But you should ask how did Armenians survived after living together with Turks so many centuries,. Killings of Armenians started with Sultan Abdulhamit, then Young Turks and Ataturk. Turkish nationalism killed Armenians. You shouldn’t also ignore the support to Turkish nationalists by Western powers. Germans supported Young Turks, British supported Ataturk and Americans still support the nationalist military.

  7. cihan, you say Killings of Armenians started with Sultan Abdulhamit. This applies is only the modern times. How about the centuries of non stop oppression where the Armenians or the Greek Byzantines the siriyacs where the absolute majority in theri own land mass to where there is nonexistent today. so you see this period is only the continuation and culmination of 1000 year old process of genocides against the local indigenous populations.

  8. I agree that, before modern times, Greeks, Armenians and other indigenous people were oppressed with Islamic laws. But during those times, who weren’t? If you think Turks don’t belong to Anatolia, you can say the same thing for all the white people in Americas. By the way, before Christianity spread, there were other civilizations in Anatolia.
    I think we should stick only to modern times. I believe you Armenians have a right to return to your historic lands and demand reparations from Turkey. But stop this belief that Turks are barbarians. Things are not that simple, there were also many outside players in this issue.

  9. Cihan is right.
    (Nationalist/Racist) Turks have been heavily supported by the West for a couple of centuries, maybe more.
    Germans most certainly knew about the AG, since German officers were embedded with the Turkish high command and field military.
    They either supported the Turkish plans for the AG, or chose to look away: in either case they are peripherally responsible; they could have stopped it,  since they had enough military and financial  influence on the Turks to compel compliance.
    [Little known side fact: Turks proudly proclaim Mustafa Kemal the Hero of Gallipoli. What is not publicized by Turks is that the overall strategist for Gallipoli defense was a German, General Otto Liman von Sanders, who overrode Kemal’s plan (which would have been a disaster for the Turks).]
    [Another little known side fact: Soviet Russia’s Bolsheviks, under orders of half-Tatar Lenin, provided trainloads of brand new Mosin-Nagant rifles, ammunition, and gold to Kemal – with the vane hope that he’s turn Turkey towards  Bolshevik ideology.]
    So yes, we, Armenians know full well that Germans, British, and now Americans were and are enablers for Turk nationalists and Denialists.
    We, Armenian-Americans, are quite aware that many in our US Congress and Executive Branch –  paid w_______s for the Turkish State – are working against AG recognition.
    But the primary culprit is the Turkish State.

  10. Cihan. Thanks for your comments. I am not angry, I am saddened from all atrocities that I have seen in my life time. All of you who visit this site, I am sure are young. I am not. I have seen more than enough inhumanity committed in the name of …..
    What concerns me is IGNORANCE. If history was taught as it should be, we as ‘human’ fixtures of this world, would be more tolerant and respectful to each other. Having said this, let me tell you a story which happened to me in middle sixties. I was working in Raqqa/Syria. Just a wee bit from the Turkish border. Some of my colleagues -Arabs learned about my ancestry, convinced me to visit the town where my father was born. He was 3 years old in 1915, and was saved by a Kurd. We went. We found the house. We were invited in. I bought a cup from the new owner with inscription in Armenian. One of my colleagues an Arab, could not hold his thoughts back, and blurted it out. “Do you know who this woman is ?” When the old man who claimed the house belonged to his great great grandfather, learned about my ancestry, said ‘ben sanin ikki geozlereneh oyarim’. From the tone of his voice, I knew it was not a good outcome to Ali’s remark. We had to run, run very fast, and we did.
    Now, let me tell you. The issue of Armenian Turkish problem did not start in 1915. The identity crisis of the Turks, goes far deeper than 1915. Recent history cannot be and will not be any help for the Turks to find their identity. Their SOUL IS CORRUPTED. It is the same with North and South Americas. Because of that the policies are so aggressive and war mongering. Somehow, technological advances ‘THINGS’ of the west, covers their stupidities. Things have overtaken the human genome. 
    I know very well about the outside players. The Anatolian land has swallowed many more civilizations, all without exception Armenian origin. If you knew history, you will notice that, this small race has protected themselves continuously throughout centuries. Have you asked to yourself Why? 
    There are so many things in this universe, yet the politicians/human animals have to understand. But, as they are unsensical, self centered and self gratifying robots, the calamities continue. 
    What a beautiful, full of wonders globe was given to human animals, it is a real paradise. What did the human animal turned this globe into? a real hell.  
    Until the generations to come, do not understand the past, it will repeat itself, over and over again.

  11. Cihan –
    An ancient people, like Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Jews, etc. cannot by definition stick to modern times. Only relatively new peoples can adopt such a mentality. Ancient times, historical memories, cultural accomplishments, etc. are part of our identity, and thus cannot be disregarded. I agree that all indigenous peoples were oppressed by Ottoman laws, not Islamic (Armenians enjoy respect and admiration in many Arab countries and Iran). But being oppressed and being almost entirely annihilated and forcibly deported are two different things. While the Balkan peoples, Arabs, Greeks, and Assyrians suffered too, the international scholars admit the fact that it was the Armenians who suffered most.
    I agree with you that before Christianity spread, other sedentary civilizations inhabited Asia Minor and Armenian Plateau (Anatolia is a Turkish invention, there was no such a geographical toponym in history). But those also were, among others, Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians.

    About Turks being “barbarians”. No Armenian commentator derogated modern Turks as barbarians, but what Seljuk and Ottoman Turks did to indigenous nations was undoubtedly barbarian. Large-scale physical extermination of human beings, desecration of their civilizations, widespread conversion to an alien religion, are barbarian acts.
    Lastly, I agree there were many outside players in this issue, and we know them, Germans, British, and Russians were amongst them, to varying degree, of course. But actual perpetrators, actual mass murderers, looters, rapists, and mutilators were Ottoman Turks. This is a fact, and the best indication that modern-day Turks progressed from their barbarian forefathers to become members of the civilized community of nations would be their official apology for committing the genocide of Armenians and other indigenous  Christian nations of Asia Minor.

    Thank you for your very untypical for most of the Turks understanding of our grief and your kind words of encouragement.

  12.      Cihan, I think you make some very good points. I appreciate your honesty in accepting the injustices against the Armenians and your support. I believe you also make a significant request… there can be no room for racism or ethnocentric stereotypes. Too often the relationship of Turks and Armenians is very shallow… emotional generalizations that are popular in our respective communites but do not advance us to a solution.
           When we see denial by Turks, it  infuriates us; but when we see an open embrace of the truth, then we need to appreciate that. We have a ways to go, but anything less than that is inappropriate. I wish you well in sharing your views.

  13. Karo, Arabs did the genocides and ethnic cleansing centuries ago. Do you really think all people from Gulf to Morocco are indigenous Arabs? The only reason they are good with Armenians is Armenians will never claim their lands. If you start to call Syria or Lebanon, “Southern Armenia”, you will see how they will become hostile to Armenians.
    Of course, Western Armenia is a historic reality, Armenians were forced to leave it. Armenians are right about claiming it back, but this is really a issue that makes the relation between Armenians and Turks very difficult than others.

  14. “Little known side fact: Turks proudly proclaim Mustafa Kemal the Hero of Gallipoli. What is not publicized by Turks is that the overall strategist for Gallipoli defense was a German, General Otto Liman von Sanders, who overrode Kemal’s plan (which would have been a disaster for the Turks”

    Allow me to comment on this subject dear to me.

    Liman Von Sanders was given the overall responsibility of the front at Gallipoli and first thing he did was to pull the bulk of the forces in and wait for the assault of the allies and hoped to rally forcefully there.  This was exact opposite of what the local Turkish commanders had planned.  They wanted to line the forces along the shores and deny any landings at any cost.  They were overuuled and were very upset.  Mustafa Kemal was a lower ranking officer then and did not have much weight in the matter.  To make it worse, Von Sanders expected the landings to take place at a much different location than where Ataturk correctly guessed and sent the main troops there.  So the allies were confronted by a very thin line of Turkish defense when they started their main assault.  It took Germans another three days to finally realize that the attacks were not fake and to release the troops.  It cost Turks dearly meanwhile to hold the Allies at the beaches with inadequate man power.  Von Sanders was man enough to realize this and also recognize Mustafa Kemal’s abilities and he rose rapidly in rank and responsibility after that.

  15. Murat:

    You are correct that Ottoman commanders were all against Von Sanders’ plan and were overruled.
    A couple excerpts from various sources:
    “In August 1914 Liman accepted command of the Turkish First Army in the Bosporus.  The following March he was placed at the head of the Fifth Army sited at Gallipoli, and is widely credited with overseeing the failure of the Allied army’s attempt to land there”

    “Sanders was now sent to the Dardanelles with the Fifth Army and was credited with masterminding the Allied defeat at Gallipoli.”

    These are from Western sources, so quite possibly biased towards Von Sanders
    But the same sources  also acknowledge that Nineteenth Division under Kemal played a pivotal role in the ultimate Turkish victory.
    I have not studied this battle in sufficient detail to be able to say whether Kemal’s tactical leadership in rallying his troops ultimately made the difference, or was it his strategic ability.
    Since you are (presumably) a Turk, and have apparently studied the battle in detail, I’ll defer to your version on this one.

  16. Cihan —

    Genocide and ethnic cleansing are different notions, they fall under different categories: one is a crime against humanity, the other is a crime. Give me an example when Arabs perpetrated accepted genocides of other peoples. Never heard of them… Ethnic cleansing during the spread of Islam in the 7th century? This I’ve learnt and read about, but genocide committed by Arabs is something new to me. And, no, I don’t really think all people from Gulf to Morocco are indigenous Arabs, but what does this point specifically illustrate? Your next statement is somewhat distortive: “The only reason they [Arabs] are good with Armenians is that Armenians will never claim their lands. If you start to call Syria or Lebanon, ‘Southern Armenia’, you will see how they will become hostile to Armenians.” First, Sihan, Western Armenia is not anyone’s land, it is historically Armenian land, therefore, by definition, we’re not claiming other people’s land; we want back what was stolen from us by means of near-extermination of the whole civilization. Do you see the difference? Secondly, Armenians are respected my other Muslim peoples—mostly by Arabs and Iranians–for their loyalty, their industriousness, and their immense contributions to the well-being of the respective societies. This is exactly what Ottoman Turks didn’t appreciate placing themselves as the dominant nation while considering all indigenous peoples as raya or millet. Thirdly, 2-2,5 mln Ottoman Armenians never organized massive armed movement to re-claim their ancestral lands in the Ottoman empire, but they were eliminated by the Turks, regardless. I understand that this particular issue makes relationship between Armenians and Turks difficult than others, but I believe reconciliation must start with a Turkish apology. It is the repentance that can pave the way towards improving the relationship between two nations.

  17. I”m a Turkish/Canadian woman.  I am enraged by the arrogance and the ignorance of the Turkish Prime Minister who has declared this meaningful statue “freakish.”  Today, (April 18, 2011) I read in the paper that they’ve started to demolish this work.  How blind, how foolish, how idiotic!  I’m grieving for the blow to the beginnings of hope for friendship between Turkey and Armenia, and also for the attack against art.  This is a scary development.

  18. Ustun, truly scary.  I thank you for your words of compassion and outrage.  As long as there are Turks like you, who can see the foolishness in such an act, I still have hope.  Please speak openly to your friends and relatives about your feelings. Change will never come top-down from the Turkish leadership. The people must change their government.

  19. A true face of Turkey… The info below is found at
    — “Famous Turkish painter Bedri Baykam was stabbed during the protest action organized against demolition of monument dedicated to Armenian-Turkish friendship in Kars. Eyewitnesses said the man who stabbed the painter was 30-35 year old. After stabbing him an unknown fled the location by vehicle. Injured painter called for help but not a single car tried to help him. Later Baykam managed to reach the hospital. Earlier during a meeting in Akatlar cultural center, Baykam voiced criticism against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for calling the monument “monstrous”. —

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