Hamshen Armenian Activists Released from Turkish Prison

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Nurcan Vayiç Aksu (left) and Cemil Aksu (standing) with their son, Arev upon being released from prison

Nurcan Vayiç Aksu (left) and Cemil Aksu (standing) with their son, Arev upon being released from prison

HOPA, Turkey—Hamshen Armenian activists, Nurcan Vayiç Aksu and Cemil Aksu, who were arrested in October by Turkish police, for allegedly posting anti-government content on social media, were released on Friday.

Vayiç Aksu was taken into police custody on October 19 following a raid of their house in the middle of the night. She is a rights activist and a member of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP).

Her hustband, Cemil, was arrested on October 25, leaving their eight-year-old son, Arev, without parents. While the Aksus were in jail, Arev was cared for by his aunt.

Aksu was arrested for allegedly “praising crime and criminals” in his social media posts. He is the local co-chair of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and is one of the editors of the Gor-Hemshin cultural magazine.

The couple is from the town of Hopa in Artvin, in what is commonly known as the Hemshin (Hamshen) region, around 12 miles of the Georgian border.

As long-time political activists and writers, the Aksus have written and spoken out not only about local history and identity in the Hemshin region, but also on environmental matters, women’s rights, and Turkish politics, among other matters. Both have been critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Upon being released, the couple posted a photo on social media, finally having been reunited with their son, Arev.


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