Turkey / Armenia
Jan. 24. 2007
Turkey embraces the memory of Hrant Dink; hundreds of thousands march. (Hurriyet - Turkey)
Hrant Dink, the armenian turkish journalist who was murdered as he left his newspaper"s offices in Sisli last Friday afternoon, was accompanied by tens of thousands of people and a cloud of white pigeons on his last journey through the streets of Istanbul yesterday.
Mourners gathered in front of the Agos newspaper offices in Sisli, massing to leave candles and flowers around the portraits of Dink in front of the building, and later to hear the words spoken by the slain journalist"s wife, Rakel Dink. Reading a letter she had entitled "A Letter to my Lover," Rakel Dink addressed Hrant, saying "You have left those you love. You have departed from your children, your grandchildren, those who are here to say farewell to you, my embrace. But you have not departed from your country." Standing behind Rakel Dink were the couple"s children, Sera, Ararat, and Delal.
The crowd estimated at over 100,000 people were mostly silent, some carrying large posters and small signs saying "We are all Hrant Dink," or "We are all Armenian." While many of the signs were in Turkish, a significant number were also in Armenian and Kurdish, as the show of support in Dink"s memory brought together a wide spectrum of different ethnic and religious groups.
Orhan Pamuk: We are All Responsible for Dink"s Death. (Yerkir - Armenia)
“We are all responsible for Dink"s death,” Turkish author, Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, said when visiting the family of murdered journalist Hrant Dink at their home in Istanbul yesterday.
Pamuk, who told reporters that words could not even describe his sorrow, said, “In a sense, we are all responsible for his death. However, at the very forefront of this responsibility are those who still defend Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.
Those who campaigned against him, those who portrayed this sibling of ours as an enemy of Turkey, those who painted him as a target, they are the most responsible in this. And then, in the end, we are all responsible.”
Istanbul. January 20, 2007
Vocal Turkish Armenian journalist murdered, by Tracy Wilkinson and Yesim Borg. (Tribune Newspapers: LA Times)
An outspoken journalist who repeatedly clashed with Turkish authorities here over recognition of the early 20th Century slaughter of Armenians was shot to death in broad daylight Friday on a busy downtown street.
Hrant Dink, who as editor of a Turkish-Armenian newspaper was the leading voice for his ethnic community, died a week after he wrote about threats from unknown forces who he said regarded him "an enemy of the Turks."
Hundreds of people marched Friday evening from Istanbul"s central Taksim Square to the offices of Dink"s Agos weekly newspaper, near the spot on a sidewalk where he was shot in the head. They held candles and posters of him; a somber silence was interrupted periodically with applause and chants for "the brotherhood of peoples."
The slaying is likely to further darken Turkey"s reputation for repressing critics of the government or of the country"s tight control on how its turbulent past is portrayed.
Dink, 52, was part of an elite group of writers and thinkers, including Nobel Literature laureate Orhan Pamuk and novelist Elif Safak, who have been tried on charges of insulting their country"s "Turkishness" under an ambiguous law promoted by hard-line nationalists.
While most, including Pamuk, were cleared, Dink was convicted in 2005 for writing articles that criticized the law and explored questions of Turkish and Armenian identity. He was sentenced to a 6-month term, which was suspended.
Last year, an Istanbul court opened a new case against him after he told a foreign news agency that the World War I-era slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Turks was genocide.
"Of course I say it was genocide," Dink had said. "With these events you see the disappearance of a people who lived on these lands for 4,000 years."
Dink helped promote a conference of academics in 2005 who gathered here to examine the era"s mass killings. The government attempted to block the conference, and the justice minister accused participants of "stabbing Turkey in the back."
On Friday, however, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was among the first to condemn DinK"s "traitorous" and "disgraceful" murder.
"Bullets have been fired at free thought and our democratic life," Erdogan said at a news conference. He urged calm.
Jan. 19, 2007
Hrant Dink spoke out about Mass Killings of Armenians by Turks a Century Ago. (CBS/AP)
Hrant Dink, a 53-year-old Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, had gone on trial numerous times for speaking out about the mass killings of Armenians by Turks at the beginning of the 20th century. He had also received threats from nationalists, who viewed him as a traitor.
In October 2005, he was convicted of trying to influence the judiciary after the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper he edited, Agos, ran stories criticizing a law making it a crime to insult Turkey, the Turkish government or the Turkish national character.
He was given a six-month suspended sentence.
The conviction was rare even in a country where trials of journalists, academics and writers have become common. Most of the cases, including that of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, were either dropped on a technicality or led to acquittals.
Dink cried during an interview with The Associated Press last year as he talked about some of his countrymen"s hatred for him, saying he could not stay in a country where he was unwanted.
Can Dundar, Dink"s friend and fellow journalist, said he wished Dink had left the country as he once promised he would in the face of the threats, protests and legal proceedings against him.
"Hrant"s body is lying on the ground as if those bullets were fired at Turkey," Dundar told private NTV television.
Turkey"s relationship with its Armenian community is fraught with tension and painful memories of a brutal past. Much of Turkey"s once-sizeable Armenian population was killed or driven out of the country from 1915-1923 in what an increasing number of countries are recognizing as the first genocide of the 20th century.
Turkey acknowledges that large numbers of Armenians died but vehemently denies it was genocide, saying the overall figure is inflated and the deaths occurred in the civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Turkey, which is overwhelmingly Muslim, and Armenia, which claims to be the first country to official adopt Christianity, share a border, but it is closed and the two countries have no formal diplomatic relations.
Fehmi Koru, a columnist at the Yeni Safak newspaper, said Dink"s slaying was aimed at destabilizing Turkey. "His loss is the loss of Turkey," Koru said.
Dink had complained in a letter that he received no responses even after complaining to authorities about threats of violence made to him, NTV reported.
A colleague at Dink"s newspaper, Aydin Engin, said Dink had attributed the threats to elements in the "deep state," a Turkish term that implies shadowy, deeply nationalist and powerful elements in the government.
UNESCO deplores killing of journalists, media workers in Turkey, Iraq. (UN News)
Condemning the killings of journalists in Iraq and Turkey, the head of the United Nations body mandated to protect press freedom today once again stressed the vital role played by the media in establishing democracy and the rule of law.
Those murdered in recent days included Hrant Dink, editor of the Turkish Armenian-language weekly Agos, and at least six Iraqi reporters and media workers.
“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and press freedom, its corollary, is a cornerstone of democracy and rule of law,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement on Mr. Dink’s killing. “I welcome the speed with which the Turkish authorities investigated this case, proof of their determination not to let this heinous crime go unpunished,” he added.
by Orhan Pamuk