Father of underage Turkish border crosser asks Armenian Prime Minister to pardon and return son
YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 20, ARMENPRESS. The father of 16-year-old Umut Ali Ozmen, the Turkish boy who had crossed the Armenian-Turkish border on July 24, is appealing to the Government of Armenia and the Prime Minister with a request to return his son.
In an interview to Armenia’s Public TV, the boy’s father Mustafa said that his son had crossed the border accidentally.
“My son had no intention to cross the border. He has no friends here, since we are in a field, in a village, he was feeding the livestock with his mother, and there is no border demarcation line in that area. And he didn’t understand that he had crossed the Armenian border. He was just curious on what is there across, and he walked up the hill to look from above,” Mustafa said.
Russian border guards had arrested the 16 year old shepherd on July 24. The boy is still in Armenia.
“As soon as he climbed up the hill soldiers arrived on a vehicle and took him. My boy wouldn’t do anything wrong, because he has numerous certificates at the college, he treats everyone with respect, but still they took him. Now the schools are open, all children are going to school, but not my son. And his mother is seeing the children going to school every morning and is crying sadly,” he said.
The Turkish villager is appealing to the Government of Armenia with a request to return his son.
“I am begging the government of Armenia and the country’s leader to release my child as soon as possible, to return him to his family in Turkey, so he returns to his usual life as soon as possible: school, college. His mother is begging to help return our boy. She is in a very bad health condition from this anxious state,” Mustafa said. He said that it is their dream to return the boy home.
On September 17, former lawmakers, chairman of the “Return” Foundation Aragats Akhoyan met the 16-year-old boy in the juvenile detention center. Akhoyan has denied Turkish media reports which claimed that the detention conditions of Ozmen are poor.
“It is a child who has accidentally crossed the border. I met him, a conversation took place, he felt warmth, he telephoned his parents and told them he is all right,” Akhoyan said.
Akhoyan said he has contacted officials about the boy’s fate.
Edited and translated by Stepan Kocharyan