On Aug. 9, Abdullah Demirbaş, the former mayor of the Sur municipality in Diyarbakir, was arrested by Turkish authorities in Diyarbakir. A long list of charges were filed against him, reported the local BIA News Center.
Demirbaş, a longtime advocate for Armenian rights, worked tirelessly for the Surp Giragos Church reconstruction in 2011. On the occasion of the re-opening of the church, he addressed the Armenians who had gathered there: “Welcome, my brothers and sisters! We are very glad to see you in your own country, your own city!”
He presided over the official inauguration of the Monument of Common Conscience on Sept. 12, 2013, that was erected in Diyarbakir. During those ceremonies, in the name of the Kurdish people, he apologized for the atrocities committed against the Armenians and Assyrians. While visiting Providence, R.I., in 2013, he addressed the Armenian community at Sts. Vartanantz Church, and laid flowers at the Armenian Genocide Monument there.
Clearly, his arrest is based on fabricated charges and was timed to coincide with unrest and violence in eastern Turkey. The 49-year-old was jailed in 2009; the charges against him included “using the Kurdish language in his official capacity.” He was released a year into his sentence because of a serious cardiac condition that has worsened since. There is grave concern for his safety and failing health while incarcerated. Turkish jails and jailers tend to live up to their reputation for cruelty and abuse of prisoners.
Demirbaş is a kind and gentle person who dedicated himself to working for the betterment of others. He has proven himself a true friend of Armenians.
“I want for Armenians the same things as I want for Kurds” — Abdullah Demirbaş