1024) Turkish Armenian Journalists Vow To Keep On Fighting For "Genocide" Recognition

Hrant Dink, the chief editor of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly 'Agos,' published in Istanbul, said today in Yerevan that despite the mounting pressure and persecution of Turkish intellectuals who call on Ankara to officially acknowledge the 1915 Armenian genocide, there are visible changes in the minds and moods of the Turkish society reflected through growing interest towards the genocide issue. . . .

Speaking to journalists at a press club here Dink said the growing pressure and persecution of Turkish authors who acknowledge the genocide is the direct retaliation of the Turkish government to frequented discussions and debates over the issue.

Dink was accused by a Turkish court of insulting 'Turkishness' and given a six-month suspended verdict, but now he is accused of disrespect towards judicial authorities. Dink added that despite this Turkey is going now through visible changes with pro-democratic forces becoming stronger.

"Many Turks are talking now about the Armenian genocide, the other part that does not talk, is interested in learning more about it," he said, adding that the government is trying its best to hush this problem. For example, he said, Turkish school textbooks say nothing about the genocide, claiming even that Armenians killed Turks.

Dink said though the Armenian community of Turkey understandably cannot raise its voice in support of demands to recognize the genocide, he and like him will fight as long as needed to make the Turkish society accept the crime committed by their ancestors.


Editor Of Turkish Newspaper Says Forces Want Armenian-Turkish Border To Open

“Turks are not enemies for us. They are our neighbors. We should not name our neighbors like that,” Hrant DINK, editor of Akos newspaper in Turkey, corrected a reporter today who said Turks are our enemies. Hrant Dink is in Armenia to participate in Armenia-Diaspora Forum. Armenian by nationality, Dink has been variously persecuted by Turkish authorities for his advocacy for recognition of Armenian Genocide.

Recently he has been sentenced to conditional imprisonment for 6 months with a groundless charge of “insulting the Turks.” If Turkish government continues persecution, Dink said he will leave Turkey. “I have never insulted any nation. Their attitude is an act of racism towards me,” Hrant Dink said.

Dink said there are some forces in Turkey which oppose European integration and the West. Asked if there is democracy in Turkey, Dink answered that Turkish government strives for democratization. “The country must change,” he said, also saying Turkish society mostly does not know about the Armenian genocide, “since the Turkish government has not talked about it for 90 years.” Dink also stated that there are very serious forces in Turkey which want the border to be free.”


Istanbul Editor Questions Armenian Genocide Recognition Drive
A prominent Turkish-Armenian intellectual advocated on Tuesday a radical shift in the ongoing efforts at international recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide, saying that Armenia and its influential Diaspora should educate ordinary Turks instead of seeking Western pressure on Ankara.

Hrant Dink, editor of the Istanbul-based Armenian newspaper “Agos,” said the best way to get Turkey to address the mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire is to help it become a more democratic state.

“The Turkish state may one day recognize the genocide under pressure from various countries,” Dink told a news conference in Yerevan. “This is possible. But is this the right solution? I don’t think so.”

The Armenian campaign has already led the governments and parliaments of about two dozen nations, including France, Russia, Italy and Canada, to officially term the slaughter of some 1.5 Ottoman Armenians a genocide. Diaspora organizations, backed by the authorities in Yerevan, believe that a similar move by the United States would dramatically heighten international pressure on the Turkish government, which vehemently denies the genocide. But their efforts to have the U.S. Congress pass a genocide resolution have been unsuccessful so far.

According to Dink, a genuine Turkish recognition could only be the result of domestic pressure. “The Turkish people know nothing about those people,” he argued. “Turkish society needs time to learn things. There is a need for a serious examination of history. Armenians must have a role in that examination.”

“Does the campaign for genocide recognition facilitate or complicate this process? In my view, we just give more ammunition to Turkish nationalists,” he added.

Calling the Armenian massacres a genocide is still considered a crime in Turkey. Dink himself was given a suspended six-month prison sentence last July for speaking up on the subject that was until recently considered a taboo in the country. He was convicted under a controversial article of the Turkish Criminal Code that imposes prison sentences on those who “insult Turkishness.” The clause, condemned by the European Union, has been used to bring charges against dozens of Turkish journalists, publishers and scholars questioning the official line on the bloody events of 1915-1918.

By Karine Kalantarian
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty © 2006. RFE/RL, Inc


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