Body of executed ASALA member taken from Turkey to France after 33 years
Rifat Başaran - ANKARAThe body of Levon Ekmekjian, a member of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) who was executed in Turkey in 1983, has been taken to France following an appeal from his family.
The family, saying it wanted to take Ekmekjian’s body and perform its own religious funeral rites in France, had appealed to the Turkish Interior Ministry through its lawyer, Eren Keskin. His grave was subsequently identified in the Cebeci Cemetery in the Turkish capital Ankara, and the ministry’s approval was granted in late December 2015.
The grave was opened last week and Ekmekjian’s body was sent to France on a plane.
Ekmekjian was one of two ASALA members who attacked Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport with bombs and gunfire in August 1982. Nine people and Ekmekjian’s accomplice, Zahrab Sarkisyan, were killed while a 24-year-old Lebanese citizen of Armenian origin survived.
Ekmekjian was sentenced to death by Turkey’s military regime in September 1982 and was executed in January 1983 in Ankara’s Ulucanlar Prison.
ASALA carried out an armed campaign starting in the 1970s against Turkish targets across the world, in a bid “to compel the Turkish government to acknowledge publicly its responsibility for the Armenian genocide in 1915, pay reparations, and cede territory for an Armenian homeland.”