Remains of Armenian hero Gourgen Yanikian were interred at Yerablur National Cemetery Sunday, angering Ankara. Turkey’s foreign ministry on Monday issued an announcement condemning the reburial and saying that it “constitutes a crime of promoting terrorism and it is unacceptable under any circumstance.”
Yanikian, who was born in Erzerum in 1895, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1973 assassination of Turkish Consul General Mehmet Baydar and Consul Bahadir Demir. Yanikian was granted compassionate release in January 1984 and died on February of that year.
The 78-year-old Yanikian lured the diplomats to a cottage at Santa Barbara’s exclusive Biltmore Hotel, promising gifts of art treasures for their government. Instead, he pulled a Luger pistol from a hollowed out book and emptied it at them. He then called the reception desk, announced he had killed “two evils,” and sat calmly on the patio awaiting arrest.
Yanikian’s remains were transported to Yerevan last week.
Last year, in an powerful op-ed published in the Fresno Bee, the prosecutor in Yanikian’s case, David Minier, lamented that he did not allow the defense’s suggestion to call witnesses and experts to attest to the crime of genocide.
“Yanikian failed to get his Armenian Nuremberg, and ‘The Forgotten Genocide,’ denied to this day by the Turkish government, was never proved in a court of law by the testimony of eyewitness survivors,” Minier said in the January 2018 op-ed in the Fresno Bee.
“Looking back, I regret I hadn’t the courage to allow such evidence, and trust the jury to follow the law. And attorney [Vasken] Minasian’s words still haunt me: ‘… bring forth an indictment against genocide.’ History’s darkest chapters – its genocides – should be fully exposed, so their horrors are less likely to be repeated,” added Minier in the op-ed last year.
In 1998, Minier had penned a similar article in the Fresno Bee, expressing remorse for not allowing the defense to introduce evidence of the Armenian Genocide.
“I’m not Gourgen Yanikian but unacknowledged history coming back for the 1,500,000 Armenians whose bones desecrate my invisible existence,” Yankian was known to have said.