- Exclusive Article by Hrant Dink For Our Site's First Birthday Issue: The "Turk" of the Armenian
- Our 148+ Article Hrant Dink Special 19 Jan 2007 (One Year Ago)
- Hopes Fade For Change In Turkey After Dink Murder Killing Of Armenian Journalist Proves No Watershedby Bernard Bouwman*
- Amnesty International Calls On Turkish Authorities To Reveal The Full Circumstances Surrounding Hrant Dink's Murder
- Thousands Remembering Dink Demand Justice
- Hrant Dink Commemorated On Murder Anniversary
- One Year by Andrew Finkel
- Police And Gendarme Should Be Brought To Justice, Say Dink Family
- Expert Report Charges "Istanbul Police As A Whole" For Negligence
- Commemorating Hrant Dink, At The Same Spot!
- More Than Ten Thousand Gathered In Memory Of Hrant Dink
- Who Accompanied Hrant Dink's Killer In Istanbul?
- A Legacy Distilled In Pain And Frustration By Yavuz Baydar
- Hrant Dink Commemoration Events January 19, 2008
- Hrant Dink, A Man Who Believed That Turkey Would Change From Within Jasper Mortimer
- Rakel’s Cry Still Ringing In Our Ears Hasan Cemal
- After Hrant Dink… by Beril Dedeoglu
- Dink Murder Investigation Stuck At Square One On First Anniversary Kristina Kamp, Baris Altintas
- To Believe Soli Özel
- Darkness To Reunite With The Hope Of Light
- Did We Learn Lessons From The Dink Murder?
- Remembering Hrant Dink By Vartan Oskanian*
- I'd Have Told Hrant That...
- Was Dink's Murderer Alone?
- Armenians Of Moscow To Organize Picket At Turkish Embassy January 19
- Dink Family Files Complaint Against Istanbul Police Chief
- We Remember Hrant!
- Atalay Admits Dink Murder Damaged Turkey's Image
- Pro-Armenian Scholar Blames 'Deep State' For Dink's Murder
- Hrant Dink Still A Warning
- Turkish Minorities Still Uneasy One Year After Dink’s Murder
- Hrant Dink By Andrew Finkel
- An Open Letter To Turkish And Armenian Intellectuals by Hovhannes Nikoghosyan*
- "I Am The One Who Understands His Nation’s Pains And Bears That Burden" Hrant Dink Interview By Alin Ozinian
- Hrant Dink: Memory And Hope By Fatma Müge Göçek
Prominent and active in various democratic platforms and civil society organizations, Hrant Dink has been emphasizing the need for democratization in Turkey and focused on the issues of free speech, minority rights, civic rights and issues pertaining to the Armenian community in Turkey.
Born in Malatya on 15 September 1954, Dink moved to Istanbul at the age of seven where he has lived since. He received his primary and secondary education in Armenian community schools and graduated from the Zoology Department of Istanbul University. He then continued his education at the Philosophy Department at the same university.
He was a bridge between Armenian and Turkish people. He was 62th journalist who was killed.
Hopes Fade For Change In Turkey After Dink Murder Killing Of Armenian Journalist Proves No Watershedby Bernard Bouwman*
Radio Netherlands, Jan 19 2008
The Turkish journalist of ethnic Armenian origin Hrant Dink was assassinated in front of the offices of his Istanbul newspaper a year ago by an ultra-nationalist Turkish minor. Images of his body lying on the street shocked the country. One year ago, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated for a more open and tolerant Turkey on the day of his funeral.
After the mass demonstrations many Turks believed that a turnaround had taken place. They believed that the average citizens' feelings of revulsion to the tragic killing of Dink would make Turkey a better country. They hoped the Turkish people would demand more democracy and freedom.
Has Turkey become a better country? The answer is no. Nationalist Turks still despise Armenians, who they consider traitors. Armenian institutions in Istanbul still receive hate mail. A song which glorified the killing of Dink quickly became a hit on the internet.
Attacks against Christians
It is not only the Armenian minority that continues to suffer. The year 2007 saw a series of attacks against Christians. The most shocking occurred in the city of Malatya, where people who printed bibles had their throats cut.
Dink is said to have become a target because of his conviction by the authorities under Article 301, which makes "insulting Turkishness" a punishable offence. He was convicted for using the word genocide to describe the mass killings of Armenians in 1915. The Turkish government has repeatedly promised to abolish Article 301, but it still remains on the books.
An even more painful blot on Turkey's democracy is that the police appears to have been aware of plans to assassinate Dink. The Turkish press received the transcript of an extremely incriminating telephone conversation between a senior police official and one of the suspects which took place after the killing. The official seemed to know the details of the attack before it took place. Why was nothing done to protect Dink? Was it due to complicity on the part of the Turkish authorities who had no objection to the silencing of the journalist?
Perhaps the most tragic sign is that hardly anyone in Turkey believes the case will ever be solved. The killing of Dink threatens to cast a shadow over Turkey's future.
Amnesty International Calls On Turkish Authorities To Reveal The Full Circumstances Surrounding Hrant Dink's Murder
U.S. Newswire WASHINGTON, Jan. 18
On the eve of the first anniversary of the killing of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Amnesty International calls on the Turkish authorities to condemn all forms of intolerance and to bring all those involved in the killing to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards.
"The scope of the investigation must be widened to examine the full circumstances of the killing, including the role of law enforcement officials in failing to act on warnings that he was being targeted for assassination," said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's researcher on Turkey.
Hrant Dink had reported threats to his life to the Public Prosecutor in Sisli. According to the indictment in the murder trial, one of the defendants also acted as a police informer and told the police of the plans to assassinate Hrant Dink in the months before the murder took place. Nevertheless, steps were not taken to ensure his protection. Subsequently two gendarmerie officers were charged with dereliction of duty; however, lawyers for the family have called for more law enforcement officers to be brought to justice.
The initial statement by the Istanbul Police Chief that the killing was the act of a gunman working alone and the photographs of military police with the alleged killer as if he was a "hero" illustrate an official reluctance to examine the full scope of the crime and contribute to the perception that sections of the law enforcement agencies may be biased.
Amnesty International considers that Hrant Dink was shot on January 19, 2007 because of his work as a journalist who championed freedom of expression and promoted the universality of human rights.
"Human rights activists have a right to the protection of the state, like any other citizen. The failure to prevent the murder of Hrant Dink and the subsequent flaws in the investigation must not be repeated," Gardner said.
"Hrant Dink's case is not an exception. Many in Turkey continue to be prosecuted for the peaceful expression of their non-violent opinions. This is due both to the existence of flawed legislation and the arbitrary implementation of the law by judges and prosecutors."
Hrant Dink was repeatedly prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code that criminalizes "denigrating Turkishness." Amnesty International has continually called for Article 301 to be abolished on the grounds that it poses a grave threat to freedom of expression, as it is worded in such broad and vague terms. Amnesty International is concerned that the number of cases opened under this article appears to have increased in 2007. The organization notes that in the past year, violations of human rights increased and measures to combat them remained insufficient.
"The continuing suppression of freedom of expression in Turkey has created an atmosphere of deadly intolerance culminating in the killing of Hrant Dink," said Gardner.
In a memorandum to the government sent earlier this week, the organization reminded it of its commitment, repeated after elections last year, to further legislative reform and advance guarantees of human rights and freedoms. Amnesty International believes that the current government must take action on a number of issues to achieve lasting, substantive improvements. These issues include torture and ill-treatment in detention and impunity for the perpetrators, fair trial concerns, obstacles being placed to undermine the work of human rights activists and freedom of expression.
"In addition to implementing current legal reforms, urgent legislative reform must be adopted. The authorities must seize the opportunity to advance the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms for all in the new constitution that is being drafted," said Gardner.
Sharon Singh, +1-202-544-0200 x302
Thousands Remembering Dink Demand Justice
Thousands gathered on Saturday in front of the Agos weekly newspaper in Istanbul to commemorate its former editor-in-chief, Hrant Dink, on the first anniversary of his death and called for all those behind the murder to be brought to justice.
Dink was shot dead in front of the same building on Jan. 19, 2007, by an ultranationalist teenager named O.S. Those participating in the ceremony started gathering in front of Agos, located on Halaskargazi Street in the central Beyoglu area, in the early morning hours carrying banners reading "For Hrant, For Justice."
Flowers were laid and candles lit on the street, while a huge picture of Dink covered part of the building where he had worked.
Turkish and Armenian versions of the song "My Brave, My Lion Is Lying Here" as well as other Turkish and Armenian folk songs Dink loved were played during the ceremony. The demonstrators sounded an Armenian woodwind instrument known as the duduk at 2:58 p.m., the time of the shooting.
Nineteen people, including two leaders of an ultranationalist group, are currently on trial for Dink's murder at a court in Istanbul. But those higher up who may have abetted the murder or covered up for fellow police continue to act with impunity, despite widespread evidence of tampering with the investigation.
"We are on the street where they tried to clean his blood with soap," Dink's widow, Rakel, said in an emotional address from a window in the newspaper's office.
"You are here for justice today. A scream for justice rises from your silence," she stated.
The murder of Dink one year ago triggered widespread anger and shock in Turkey and caused massive crowds to take to the streets, chanting "We are all Armenians, we are all Hrant Dinks."
Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Article 301, under which Dink was convicted, had been blamed for his death since it made him a target for ultranationalists. Article 301, which criminalizes the ambiguous concept of denigrating "Turkishness," has proven itself to be a major obstacle to freedom of speech.
Dink was convicted for an article he penned in Agos expressing his views on the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans in 1915. The Armenians say the killings amounted to genocide, while Turkey denies it.
On Saturday Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin told journalists that work on changes to the infamous Article 301 has been completed. Sahin said the proposed amendment to the article will be submitted to Parliament as a draft for debate in a general assembly session.
In response to criticism that the Dink investigation and trial were moving very slowly, he stated that such trials could not be completed overnight and that patience was needed. He said the prosecutors were being very diligent in their investigation. "Such important trials may not always be completed in a year; you have to understand that," he said.
Meanwhile, a religious ceremony was held in the Armenian Church of Mother Mary on Sunday to commemorate Dink. His widow, Rakel, daughters, Sera and Delal, son Ararat, his brother, Orhan Dink, Mayor of Sisli Mustafa Sarigül and members of Istanbul's tiny Armenian community attended the service led by Zakeus Orhanyan.
21.01.2008 Today's Zaman Istanbul
Hrant Dink Commemorated On Murder Anniversary
TDN January 21, 2008
Thousands throughout the country gather to commemorate the killing of journalist Hrant Dink on the first anniversary of his murder, chanting slogans for justice
The murder of the editor-in-chief of Armenian-Turkish bilingual daily Agos was commemorated in solemn ceremonies and protest marches in several cities around the country Saturday.
On Jan. 19, 2007, Dink was gunned down outside his office, allegedly by a hard-line nationalist teenager.
The killing brought international condemnation and sparked debate about freedom of speech in Turkey, where massive crowds took to the streets, chanting: "We are all Armenians, we are all Hrants."
Amid tight police security and mournful music, people laid red carnations at the spot in Osmanbey, Istanbul, where the daring editor had been killed. A huge photograph of Dink hung from the Agos offices during the ceremony.
Dink had sought to encourage reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia but several years before his death was prosecuted under Turkish law for describing the early 20th-century mass killings of Armenians as genocide.
A minute's silence was observed at 3:00 p.m., the time Dink was gunned down.
"Dear brothers, sisters! We are here today because we want justice," his wife, Rakel Dink, said in an address to the mourners, many of whom had pinned pictures of the slain journalist to their chests.
“The blood spilled on this pavement will not be silenced. It hasn't been silenced for a year. Only justice can do that,” she said.
Oral Çalislar, of the daily Cumhuriyet, also spoke at the ceremony
“Despite the capture of those who killed Hrant, the powers behind them are still at large,” Çalislar said. “What is needed is courageous political will. In short what is needed is Hrant's courage.”
Çalislar gave his speech amid booing and a brief disturbance.
A trial began last year behind closed doors because the purported triggerman is a minor. A total of 19 suspects are standing trial, and the next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 11. The government has vowed to prosecute all those responsible for Dink's killing. An Istanbul court is looking into allegations of official negligence or even collusion, but lawyers for Dink's family have said the investigation is flawed. On Friday, Amnesty International urged Turkey to widen the investigation into his death and the media called for the alleged complicity of security officials to be fully probed.
The killer state will be called to account, many in the crowd of several thousand chanted.
A woman in her 60s, who identified herself as Adalet (Justice in English), said she was walking in the area last year on Jan. 19 when she heard gunshots and a man fall onto the pavement.
“He fell right near my feet,” she said. “Life just stopped for me at that moment. I can still see it. I can never pass by here again. Taking a life shouldn't be that easy. I'm here to demand justice.”
"I can see that justice has not been done and it makes me angry ... but I believe if we raise our voices justice will be achieved," said advertising executive, Ulas Arikan, 50.
"Despite all the past grievances among Turks and Armenians, he never expressed hatred," said Mevlut Yilmaz at the ceremony Saturday. "He was thinking about the future, not the past."
The government has failed to learn the lesson behind Dink's slaying, Radikal columnist Murat Yetkin said.
"(Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan, who claims leadership of the Alliance of Civilizations, should sort out those who want to turn his country into a hell for non-Muslims," he said. "All the government's bodies associated with security, starting with the Interior Ministry, must root out the rotten apples within," he said.
The death of Dink and what he stood for was remembered at a ceremony in Lütfi Kirdar Congress Hall Saturday night, when several artists performed.
Agos' Markar Esayan, speaking at the event, said: “Last year our voices were silenced. Efforts by the family and friends of Dink are not enough to erase this sorrow. We need justice.”
Performing at the event were the Sahakyan Choir, Kardes Türküler and Ciplak Ayaklar. A biographical documentary about Dink was shown.
Ceremonies around the nation:
Ceremonies were also held in Adana, Mersin, Diyarbakir, Eskisehir, Izmir, Ankara and Denizli.
In Diyarbakir, pro-Kurdish Democratic People's Party (DTP) deputy, Gülten Kisanak, said: “DInk was a symbol of peace. We are guilty for not saving him.”
The municipal choir sang songs in Kurdish, Armenian and Turkish at the municipal theater hall.
After the Istanbul ceremony, a group of 150 people marched from Sisli to Taksim Square and clashed with a group of Workers Party (IP) members who were holding a demonstration.
The group arriving from the Dink ceremony later threw stones at the local IP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) bureaus. Police fired in the air to disperse the crowd, wounding a bystander.
One Year by Andrew Finkel
We journalists are buzzards; other people's miseries constitute our tasty snacks. My own bits of professional good fortune, the turning points in my career, have consisted in being in the wrong place at the right time; somewhere where a war was about to start or a crisis to ensue. So when this newspaper was launched just one year ago, it was all of our secret desires that we would be entering eventful, tumultuous times in which people would instinctively reach for a newspaper to find out what was going on. "Be careful," the saying goes, "what you wish for."
It was just a year ago that I was riding back from this newspaper with one of its most sensible columnists, Sahin Alpay, when his telephone rang. From his anguished mutterings I could tell something was going on, but it was not until he stepped out at his destination just as he hung up that he explained the cause of his concern that Hrant Dink had been shot dead. An hour later I was standing in front of the newspaper Hrant edited, television microphone in hand. Of course, the other upside to being a journalist is that you go to work at the very moment that others are left to confront their own feelings. You don't wail when the earthquake strikes your own house, you report your neighbors' wailings. It is a profession which contains its own therapy.
My purpose in recounting all this is not to indulge in "where-were-you-when-you-discovered-Kennedy-was-shot" nostalgia. (I was leaving the schoolyard when a girl on a bicycle shouted out the reason why our teachers were all in tears.) Nor is it even to assess the impact of a friend's death on the society he hoped to change. It is to recount the particular circumstances which surrounded the birth of this newspaper, the bit of good-bad-luck which got Today's Zaman off the ground, the story which aged us when we were only a few days old. Actors say they are only as good as their last film, but the truth is that in their hearts they think themselves as good as their first important role. I suspect something similar is true for newspapers.
We had a gentle birthday celebration for the newspaper the other night, complete with an astonishing cake iced with the first-ever edition of the paper. Afterwards a few of us met to discuss what the paper was doing right, where it had gone stale and what it should be doing better. It was a good discussion, even if there is only so much soul searching you can do on a bellyful of cake. If we did not get around to articulating why this paper had to exist, it is I think because there was already a determined consensus in the room. It was to work for a more open society -- one that was more just and more tolerant and one which resolved its differences in the editorial columns and not through violence, which celebrated accomplishments that increase the stock of human happiness and did not glorify bullyboy gunmen. If this makes us sound like boy and girl scouts, so be it. The body of a colleague who held similar views lay one year ago on a sidewalk covered with newspaper.
The one thing journalists as a profession do badly is maudlin sentimentality. The Times, where I wrote for many years, as a rule forbade articles that marked the first or the 10th or the 100th anniversary of this or that -- although it was forced to make exceptions. Far from marking the anniversary of Hrant Dink's death, I sometimes have to blink to convince myself such a thing could really have happened.
Hrant Dink's death was not the only story this newspaper covered this year. We were "blessed" with a crisis over the election of a president and a hard-fought general election campaign. Momentous events will rumble on. This newspaper will grow old. Poor Hrant will not have that luxury.
Police And Gendarme Should Be Brought To Justice, Say Dink Family
The family of murdered journalist Hrant Dink wants all those responsible for the murder to be prosecuted and has filed a complaint against Istanbul Police Chief Cerrah and other officers, as well as the officers of the Trabzon Gendarmerie Command.
Bia news centre 18-01-2008 Erol ÖNDEROGLU
Although the official murder suspects of journalist Hrant Dink have been on trial since July 2007, it is clear that responsibility for the murder also lies with the police who was informed of the plans beforehand and did nothing to prevent the assassination, believe the Dink family members.
Istanbul police knew of murder plans
The Dink family has thus filed a complaint against Istanbul Chief of Police Celalettin Cerrah and the officers of the Istanbul Police Department for “negligence in the murder”.The complaint argues that those mentioned in the text are suspects in the murder of Hrant Dink. “Even if they were not part of the organizational hierarchy, they aided and abetted the organization knowingly and willingly.” The complaint also asks for the accused to be punished for “committing a crime in the name of an illegal organization and being members of such an organization.”
The lawyers have accused Chief of Police Cerrah of making conflicting statements to the expert witness. The Istanbul police force in general is accused of not carrying out necessary investigations or providing precautionary protection despite being warned about the planned murder.
Trabzon gendarme withheld evidence
The complaint, which the Dink family’s lawyers filed with the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecution on 17 January, further demands the prosecution of the officers of the Trabzon Gendarmerie for “holding back evidence, tampering with evidence, abusing their position and failing to do their duty.”
The family is asking for the prosecution of Trabzon Province Gendarmerie Commander Ali Öz, Intelligence Unit Gendarmerie Captain Metin Yildiz, Central Gendarmerie Company Commander Lieutenant Murat Akce, Central Gendarmerie Police Station Commander Sergeant Major Cevat Eser, as well as officers Veysel Sahin and Okan Simsek, both of whom are already on trial.
Citing Article 8/2 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which deals with “related crimes”, the family is asking for the prosecution of the officers at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court.
Prosecution not informed of phonecall
The complaint pointed to the fact that apart from Ahmet Samast, the father of the suspected triggerman O.S., someone else informed the Trabzon gendarmerie of the identity of the suspect. It has recently emerged that the Trabzon gendarmerie received a phone call at 3:05 a day after the murder, on 20 January, in which the anonymous informant told an officer that the pictures broadcast on television were of O.S.. The informant further gave the address of the suspect, the name of his father and his father’s workplace. He said: “Tell Istanbul, he ran away from here. He went to Istanbul with his friends, it was done there.”
The lawyers said, “Despite the denunciation, the Trabzon Gendarmerie Command only transcribed this conversation nine days later, did not try to find out the identity or address of the informant, and did not inform the prosecution of the denunciation and its content.”
Expert report convinced of negligence
The complaint further cited the investigation of expert witnesses as coming to the following conclusions:
The Istanbul Police did not act on the written report which the Trabzon Intelligence Unit sent to the Istanbul Intelligence Unit on 17 February 2006, a year before the murder, informing the latter about a planned attack on Dink.
The Istanbul did not fulfill its duties according to the secret regulations concerning intelligence.
The officers and their superiors in the Istanbul Police Force, from the lowest to the highest level, may be responsible, according to penal and discipline law, for not fulfilling their duty of control. (EÖ/TK/AG)
Expert Report Charges "Istanbul Police As A Whole" For Negligence
Istanbul Police Department as a whole may be responsible for negligence in the Dink murder, says expert report. Yet only one officer is permitted to be brought under investigation, in one year.
Bia news centre 17-01-2008 Tolga KORKUT
Despite an expert report charging the Istanbul Police Force with wrongdoing at all levels of the hierachy, only one person A. Ilhan Güler, the head of the intelligence unit, is brought under investigation, complains "The Hrant Dink Murder Monitoring Commission", a volunteer group comprising of lawyers, researchers and right activists.
According to Turkish administrative procedures, public servants may be brought to justice for charges related to their duties only after the consent of their seniors. In Istanbul the highest state officer is the governor of Istanbul.
The group, particularly relies on a report by an official expert committee, reading "there may be responsibility from the lowest to the highest level [of Istanbul police] for negligence of their to control the events ."
The monitoring commission, relying on the report and other facts and documents in the Hrant Dink murder case files further points to other irregularities in the operating of the Istanbul police:
The charges by the Trabzon police that Istanbul police did not seriously investigate their information that defendant Yasin Hayal may kill Hrant Dink is under investigation.
On 28 August 2007, the Istanbul Governor's Office gave permission for A. Ilhan Güler to be investigated, yet denied permission to investigate Chief of Police Celalettin Cerrah.
The lawyers for the Dink family objected to this decision at the Istanbul Regional Administrative Court, but the objection was overruled.
The court, after further examination decided to allow Güler's investigation. However, the lawyers have still not been informed of the court's final decision.
Whereas, the two experts in their report say: "Relying on the committed and neglected operations in this case, we have arribved at the conclusion that the officers and their superiors in the Police Force, from the lowest to the highest level, may be responsible, according to penal and discipline law, for not fulfilling their duty of control."
Despite this report, only head of intelligence Güler is to be investigated. (TK/AG)
Commemorating Hrant Dink, At The Same Spot!
A year has passed. Of all my identities, I want to put forward that of a human being and commemorate Hrant Dink at the same spot. I do not accept that people are killed for their thoughts, and I do not want to get used to their absence.
Bia news centre 15-01-2008 Gönül ILHAN
It hasbeen a year; standing on the balcony of the Agos newspaper, looking at the sad faces of the people wearing black clothes and white scarves, the pain of centuries flowed from our eyes.
The "Sari gelin" folk song collected the revolt from our eyes, held on to the wings of the birds flying in circles above our heads and rose into the sky.
We who have lived with the same sunlight during the day and the same stars at night, stood on the earth, which we have worn out with our wars, hate and theartificial boundaries we have drawn on its body, we stood immobile at the place where Hrant had been shot.
Rakel, with her presence of pain said, "Brothers and sisters, we cannot do anything without questioning the darkness which creates a murderer out of a baby." [...]
This was year ago; the huge body of tens of thousands of people walked silently, the sound of tens of thousands of feet echoed in the streets.
Istanbul which carried the pain of the people standing at the two sides of the road, looking out of windows, collecting at bridges walked with us.
The noise of our steps and our clapping hands was scattered by the wind.
On that day we walked in the knowledge that the sky was wide enough for all of us, and the world was fertile enough to feed all of us.
We walked thinking that our mothers' languages were too beautiful to be forbidden,and that people were too precious to be killed.
We walked, in our minds ripping up the history books which speak of other peopleswith hatred.
We walked dreaming of a world in which children's names would not be changed.
We walked memorising the fact that discrimation is felt most in the hearts of thosediscriminated against.
We walked, surprised by the noise of our footsteps and the size of our hands.
We walked, feeling in our own flesh the cruelty of the three bullets which tookHrant from us.
We walked, hearing the sound of the wings of the birds circling above us as ifthey were very close to us.
We walked, realising that people with different ethnic origin who live on the samesoil live not like a fabric of life, but like the embroidery on top of it.
We walked in memory of those who have been killed for their thoughts, who werepushed for their roots, who were silenced for their language.
We walked, flowing like grains of sand in a sand clock from the boulevards andstreets, feeling that nothing would ever be the same again.
A long year has passed since then.
Of all my identities, I want to put forward that of a human being and commemorate Hrant Dink atthe same place.
Because I do not accept that people are killed for their thoughts, and I do not want to get used to their absence.
Because I do not want to let the murder of Hrant Dink and all the murders with unknown perpetrators to erode my sense of justice, and I want the darkness which takes the right of people to live to diffuse.
Because I do not accept that children are left without mothers and fathers, and because I miss a world in which people can live "like a tree, alone and free, andin brotherhood like a forest." (GI/TK/AG)
* On Saturday, 19January 2008, the anniversary of Hrant Dinks murder, he will be commemorated infront of the Agos newspaper office at 3 pm under the motto "For Hrant, forJustice."
More Than Ten Thousand Gathered In Memory Of Hrant Dink
On the first anniversary of the murder of journalist Hrant Dink, more than ten thousand people gathered in front of the Agos newspaper office, the place where he was shot.
Bia news centre 19-01-2008 Erol ÖNDEROGLU
On 19th January 2007, Hrant Dink, editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, was shot dead in front of his office in Sisli, Istanbul. The country was shocked by pictures of his prostrate body on the pavement, covered by newspapers, with just the worn soles of his shoes visible. A voice of dialogue and democracy had been silenced.
Hrant Dink’s funeral turned into a reaction against racism and nationalism, as tens of thousands of people gathered in a silent procession which accompanied Hrant Dink’s body from his newspaper office to the church where he was laid to rest.
Last year a call to "question the darkness"
The most moving part of the procession was a speech by Hrant Dink’s widow, Rakel Dink. She spoke out against the increasing nationalism in the country. Referring to the young age of the suspected triggerman, she said: “Whatever may be the age of the murderers, 17 or 27, I know that they were born as babies. Without questioning the darkness that has created murderers, my brothers and sisters, there is no way forward.”
People carried placards reading “We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian”, a sign of solidarity, and also a protest at the fact that Hrant Dink was murdered for his identity. There was later a nationalist backlash against the slogan, with people deliberately misunderstanding the sentiment behind the expression of empathy.
No justice yet
In the year since the murder, the Dink family has had to discover that it is difficult to “question the darkness.” Although the official murder suspects are on trial, it seems clear that those really responsible are will not be prosecuted. The Trabzon Gendarmerie and the Istanbul Police are accused of gross negligence, as they knew of murder plans long before the attack happened. Evidence has been withheld and permission to investigate security officers has been refused.
"If he had lived, he would be in prison now"
Thus today’s gathering was as much a commemoration of Hrant Dink as a protest against the continuing darkness.More than ten thousand people gathered in the street of the Agos newspaper office, the place where Hrant Dink was shot.
The site of his murder was covered with a picture of Hrant Dink, candles and flowers. People shouted slogans such as “Long live the brotherhood of peoples” and “The murderer state will be made accountable.” Foreign press was in strong attendance.
Like last year, widow Rakel Dink addressed the crowd. Referring to Hrant Dink’s sentence under the controversial Article 301, she said: “They say, ‘who has gone to prison [under Article 301]?’ I say, if they had let my violin [her term of endearment for her husband] live, he would be in prison now, because if they had let him live, he would be in his third month in prison now.”
"You are here for justice"
She said that Hrant Dink’s blood had not become quiet: “The sound of blood can only be silenced with justice. And this is what you are here for today, for justice.”
Saying that “the pain has made us relatives,” Rakel Dink reminded the crowd of the many sickening indicators of approval of the murder: the gendarmerie officers arresting suspected triggerman O.S., who put a flag in his hand and took souvenir photographs of themselves with the suspect, football fans who reacted to the slogan at the funeral procession by shouting in stadiums, ‘We are all Ogün’ [referring to one of the murder suspects], the intelligence officer Muhittin Zenit who spoke to Erhan Tuncel , police informant and murder suspect, shortly after the murder and evidently knew of the murder plan.
Rakel Dink asked: “What has my country’s justice system done about the gendarmerie who knew everything up to the brand of the gun that was used in the murder, about the [nationalist organisations] who planned the murder? What has my country’s justice system done about the assistant governor and his so-called friends who tried to put my husband in his place?”
Writer and peace activist Arundhati Roy attended the commemoration at Rakel Dink’s side, also standing at the window of the Agos newspaper office.
"Hrant needs our courage"
Journalist Oral Calislar also spoke to the crowd. He said, “Hrant’s murder was planned by a group…We have realised that they decided long before to kill him…The newspapers made him into a target…at the court hearings [for his trial under Article 301] they tried to lynch him.”
“We now know those who are putting guns into the hands of children…We know those who led and encouraged. It needs courage to make the murderers and organisations within the state accountable. Hrant needs our courage.”
The gathering was joined by Joost Lagendijk, co-chair of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, Turkish academics, politicians and activists of the left, writers and journalists. (EÖ/TK/AG)
Who Accompanied Hrant Dink's Killer In Istanbul?
An informer, the day after journalist Hrant Dink's murder, called local gendarme in Trabzon and told that suspect O. S. went to Istanbul to kill the journalist "with friends", says family lawyer Fethiye Cetin.
Bia news centre 15-01-2008 Nilüfer ZENGIN
Fethiye Cetin, one of the lawyers for the Dink family, said that the Pelitli Gendarmerie in Trabzon received a phonecall on 20 January. Someone informed the gendarmerie that O.S., the suspected triggerman in the Hrant Dink murder case, went to Istanbul with his friends:
Gendarmerie not investigating "friends"
"The important sentence is the 'he went to Istanbul with his friends' at the end of the phone conversation. The gendarmerie is not looking for these friends, although it is their duty to investigate this and send their findings to the prosecution."
Cetin conceded that the fact that this phone conversation was only put into a report nine days later may be due to bureaucratic obstacles; "however, what is really relevant is that the gendarmerie has not done anything about it."
According to the news on NTV channel, a person denounced O.S. in a phonecall to the Pelitli gendarmerie in Trabzon on 20 January, one day after the murder of Hrant Dink. The anonymous caller gave O.S.'s father's name and work place. The date on the report of this call is nine days later.
Dialogue recorded nine days later
The dialogue is reported in the case file of gendarmerie officers Okan Simsek and Veysel Sahin, who are both on trial for gross misconduct:
Informer (I): You know the guy who shot the journalist?
Gendarmerie Officer (GO): Which guy?
I: He was shot in Istanbul, you know
GO: Oh, yes
I: The guy who shot the journalist, O.S., he lives in Yeni Afetler
I: Look, they are coming, no one must hear me...His father Ahmet Samast works for the municipality at the airport
GO: Give me the address of where he lives
I: I was going to call Istanbul, my telephone does not work outside...I was going to tell them, but I could not...Tell Istanbul. He ran away from here and went to Istanbul with his friends. It was done there.
GO: Alright sir, thank you. (NZ/TK/AG)
A Legacy Distilled In Pain And Frustration By Yavuz Baydar
Serra Yilmaz certainly has suffered much. The world-famous actress is one of those who, in memory of Hrant Dink, read one of his columns at a public event, part of the commemoration of the anniversary of the heinous assassination of our dear colleague. Yilmaz calls the murder "her personal Sept. 11," and I fully concur with my dear friend. The murder has ripped through our souls and left behind an open wound. Another good friend of Hrant, Oral Çalislar, a columnist for Cumhuriyet, wrote that he would "never, ever get used to Hrant's eternal absence."
So true. The murder was the Sept. 11 of the stubborn, devoted, freedom-loving intellectuals of this country. Deep trauma stemming from the event has broken most of their dreams, leaving some of them in non-reparable nihilism and restless melancholy.
Having had my share of the shock of the crime and having been a first-hand witness of the court proceedings, I am also struggling between pale rays of hope and a total loss of faith.
Dink's murder has left us with a legacy, a legacy which has left those who believed it would be a turning point for change in Turkey in the wrong. Back to almost square one, the dynamics of a promising democracy have been put on hold.
Putting aside the outcome of the ongoing court proceedings and the case which was filled with dark corners, cover-ups and lies, the murder, which took place a year ago, has exposed a number of truths:
In terms of free speech, nobody can nor should feel safe. Any individual who speaks his mind candidly will not do it without a dose of fear. Dink's murder, in that sense, has silenced commendably increasing dissent. As Arus Yumul, a Turkish-Armenian social scientist from Bilgi University, told me the other day, it gave way to the opening of dialogue between a long-silent Armenian community in Turkey and the majority Muslim Turks. Perhaps, the worst part is that many Armenians here feel shattered, with no belief whatsoever of better times for them in this country.
The murder exposed the level of intolerance in Turkey vis-à-vis "the other." It could be seen not only in the buildup of events (xenophobia and vulgar nationalism feeding on each other) preceding the murder, but -- perhaps worse -- in the wave of reactions, some openly in favor of the murder and the assassins, after the crime was committed. The naive elite in Turkey realized in a flash that the path to civilization was much longer than anticipated.
The murder also revealed that the identity crisis Turkey had fallen into, due to the EU process, had come to an end. As my colleague, Etyen Mahçupyan, Hrant's successor at Agos, put it, "The verbal and mental search in the crisis was transformed into violence, putting a full stop to a search for a new identity."
It also made it obvious for everybody where the limits of Turkish politics in a time of crucial change were. Dink's murder came only weeks after the ugly "condemning" of Pamuk having received a Nobel Prize and the painful backlash in the EU summit that immediately ensued. Here you had a government that looked the other way when it was all about the continuous reforms. Hrant's murder was a welcome act for all of those who opposed any change in the direction of a more solid democracy.
The crime also put on the table a rotten element. It displayed how inefficient Turkey's judicial system was, despite all the Pollyanna talk about "all is getting better." The mentality in favor of "the state should protect itself against its enemies" was stripped naked, giving full meaning to all those previously unresolved cases of murder against journalists, writers, intellectuals, scholars, etc. An inefficient system of justice, watched in apathy by a helpless, unwilling government. That is the picture many saw.
This is where we are 365 days on. We still have a pile of cases based on the infamous Article 301 and others on Article 216. The government is still undecided on whether it is "important" for Turkey to amend the law and extend freedom at all.
The other day, I was asked "What would Hrant wish for if he were alive today?" I unhesitatingly responded: "He would wish for simple courage from all those now in power to keep moving. He would exert pressure for a powerful push in the EU process and criticize all Turkey-skeptics in Europe for their resistance. He would keep repeating his firm belief that only through further democratization and a righteous sense of justice would Turkey get ready to deal with all its ghosts, past and present."
His absence puts us all farther from all good dreams and hopes. Those who should feel shame know. And we know, in our constant grief, what we know. May he rest in peace.
Hrant Dink Commemoration Events January 19, 2008
1) At the same spot at 3:00 p.m. on Jan.19
Press statement - Hrant's friends
Date: Jan. 19, 2008
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Location: In front of the weekly Agos office building - Halaskargazi St. Sebat Apt. 192 Harbiye
2) Commemoration night for Hrant Dink
Date: Jan. 19, 2008
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: The Istanbul Lütfi Kirdar Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC)
3) Surp Asdvaszazsin Armenian Patriarchal Church
Date: Jan. 20, 2008
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Location: Sarapnel Str. No. 3, 34480 Kumkapi
Phone: 0212 516 25 17
4) Moment of silence for Hrant Dink by his resting place
Date: Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Location: Balikli Armenian Cemetery - Zeytinburnu
5) 'Tilili' voice installation - Hadig
Date: Jan. 4-20, 2008
Location: Apartman Project Seh Bender St. No. 4 Beyoglu
Hrant Dink, A Man Who Believed That Turkey Would Change From Within
A year ago this afternoon, television-viewers who tuned into 24-hour news channels saw a man in a brown suit lying facedown on the pavement of an Istanbul boulevard.
Thousands of people hold his pictures and placards that read: "We are all Hrant Dink" and "We are all Armenians" as they march behind the coffin of slain journalist Hrant Dink during a funeral ceremony in Istanbul, on Jan. 23, 2007.
He lay all alone and from underneath the white plastic sheet over his torso there seeped a small pool of blood.
A small percentage of Turks then knew the identity of the man who had been shot outside his office’s building. But the next day the whole country would know the name of Hrant Dink, 52, the editor of Agos weekly and champion of the Armenian cause. Newspapers splashed his assassination across their front pages, with banner headlines such as “The biggest treachery” (Sabah) and “Hrant Dink is Turkey” (Milliyet).
Like a low-magnitude earthquake that cracks a house rather than flattens it, the murder of Dink frightened all thinking Turks, exposing the fault lines of their society. The aftershocks went beyond Turkey. As the European Union and US Congress condemned the assassination, critics of Turkey said it showed the country could not tolerate free speech. Friends of Turkey hung their heads in shame.
The killing turned out to be the start of two debates that would endure through 2007. The first was between liberal and conservative Turks over freedom of expression and, in particular, the Armenian question. The second was between Turkish Armenians and US Armenians over how to pursue the tragedy of 1915-22.
Dink’s body lay on the gray paving stones for an unconscionably long time. Television channels interspersed the live scene on the street with archive footage of Dink, showing his sensitive eyes and ruggedly handsome face. Viewers, such as this correspondent who watched from the Associated Press newsroom in Cairo, were appalled that the police continued to keep him lying in the cold for hours because of the slow-moving forensic scientists.
A burly man burst through the police line like a rugby player going for a try, yelling “Abi!” (older brother). This was Dink’s brother, Yervant, who was allowed to see what death had wrought before being ushered back to the edge of the cordon, where he squatted, crying his eyes out.
Eventually Dink’s corpse was removed by ambulance. But people did not go back to their daily lives. Some 5,000 Turks came together in Taksim Square, the end of the boulevard where he was shot. They did not know who had killed Dink, but they knew the mentality behind the many death threats he had received.
Fed up with the bigotry that masquerades as patriotism, they took felt-tip pens and sheets of white cardboard and scrawled two slogans that were to become icons of Dink’s death. “We are all Hrants,” “We are all Armenians,” they wrote in Turkish and Armenian.
From Malatya to Istanbul
It was a tribute to a man born in the provincial city of Malatya, raised in an Armenian orphanage and who saw himself as such a mixture of Turk and Armenian that he was hurt when the military refused to give him a commission even though he had scored 100 percent on his national service examination.
In 1996 Dink had founded Agos, the only Armenian newspaper that pulled no punches in a society where Armenians have long felt they are second-class citizens. The paper publishes its articles in Turkish as well as Armenian because Dink wanted Agos to reach out to Turks.
Agos scored a scoop in 2004 when it revealed that Sabiha Gökçen, Atatürk’s adopted daughter, was Armenian. Hrant had found her relatives in Armenia and published the story hoping it would serve to bring Turks and Armenians closer together. After all, the late Gökçen had been a role model for Turkish women, the first female pilot.
But many Turks found the story a nasty surprise. The head of the armed forces called it “a crime against national unity.”
However Dink persevered in championing equal rights for Armenians and that what had happened to his community in 1915-22 was not a case of the unfortunate excesses of war, as the officials would have it. To call those events an atrocity or genocide had been a Turkish taboo for decades, but Dink managed to argue that position in such a sensitive way that he won the respect of those who flatly disagreed with him.
When the state finally granted him a passport -- after many refusals -- he told audiences in Europe and America that today’s Turks should not be punished for the sins of 90 years ago. And he followed this through to the point of criticizing laws in countries such as France and Switzerland that penalize people who deny that Armenians suffered genocide.
“A bullet has been shot at free thought and our democratic way of life,” said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hours after the murder. Erdogan called Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II and assured him that the killer would be caught.
Turkey has a long record of unsolved murders of prominent journalists and freethinkers, but this time the police performed.
They found a picture of the killer running with a pistol on a shop’s security camera. It was broadcast on television and seen by his father, who called the authorities. Within 32 hours of the murder, the killer was arrested.
He was 17, an unemployed high school dropout from the Black Sea city of Trabzon. His uncle told TGRT television he had been living “aimlessly” and must have been manipulated by his older associates. Foremost among his associates, and subsequently arrested, was an ultra-nationalist who had previously been jailed for bombing a McDonald’s restaurant.
The matter did not stop there. Everybody knew this was not just one small group of extremists. As Radikal columnist Ismet Berkan put it: “Those who created nationalist sentiment in Turkey have fed such a monster that there are many youngsters on the streets who do not find the ... state nationalist enough and are ready to take the law into their own hands.”
Thousands of people thought likewise and flocked to Dink’s funeral. Traffic officers closed off the area in front of Agos’s office for the cortege to start, but more and more mourners came and the officers scrambled to close the whole boulevard and redirect traffic. Eventually some 100,000 people were walking behind Dink’s hearse, a river of humanity flowing across the city.
Many of the mourners had never read Agos and they did not accept that 1915-22 was genocide, but they marched to affirm that Turkey must not be a country that kills people for their opinions.
To the placards carried by the mourners, reading “We are all Hrant Dinks” and “We are all Armenians,” a new one was added: “The killer is 301” -- a reference to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which outlaws “insulting Turkishness.” Dink had received a six-month suspended sentence for violating 301 in an editorial and at the time of his death he was facing another prosecution under the same law.
“It is unacceptable to judge and imprison someone because of his thoughts, let alone to kill him,” Patriarch Mesrob said during the funeral mass. In the Holy Mother of God Church sat the deputy prime minister, the interior minister and two generals. In death Dink had won the respect of those who harassed him in life.
The mourning of Dink continued after the funeral and evolved into something else. At media parties it became chic to talk glowingly of Hrant and say how much one missed him. But some journalists had the candor to puncture this hypocrisy by asking where all these “friends” were when Dink was on trial under 301.
Then the uglier side of Turkey reared its head. The weekend after the funeral, fans at a football stadium hoisted placards reading: “We are all Turks.” Vicious comments about Dink and his death began appearing on nationalistic Web sites. It emerged that the teenager who shot Dink had posed with two officers in front of a Turkish flag at the Samsun police station where he was initially detained. Worse still, a video appeared on YouTube that showed Dink’s body on the pavement as a man sang a song which contained the line: “If someone betrays his country, he will be taken care of immediately.”
Clearly there are two Turkeys: one is cosmopolitan and liberal, the other is ethnically chauvinist and conservative. Fortunately, the first Turkey dominates the media. Newspapers denounced the YouTube song and the police who posed with the killer, forcing prosecutors to investigate both.
The division between these Turkeys retarded moves to reform Article 301. After Dink’s death, Erdogan invited NGOs to suggest amendments to the law but, aware of popular sentiments, he took no action until after the July elections.
The European Union warned Turkey that it could never join the club with 301. And then Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, now president, responded by repeatedly promising the law would be revised. The amendment was presented to the Cabinet earlier this month but contrary to forecasts, it was not quickly approved and sent to Parliament. The ruling Justice and Development Party is wrangling over it, with Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çicek seen as a leading advocate of the view that the original wording should be preserved as much as possible.
In America, Dink was deeply mourned among the country’s estimated 1 million Armenians. But during his life many American Armenians opposed him.
In three articles in Agos in 2004, Dink had argued that the time had come for Armenians to step back from insisting that Turkey recognize the “genocide” of 1915-22, as this had become an unhealthy fixation.
(In one article, he wrote that the craving for empathy from Turks, which he termed the “Turk,” had become like a tumor in the Armenian soul. “It is obvious that the ‘Turk’ is both the poison and the antidote of Armenian identity,” he said. Unfortunately, Internet cafe browsers misread these lines. The teenage killer reportedly told his interrogators that he shot Dink because he had said Turkish blood was poisonous.)
The Armenian world should not “enchain itself to the sense of fairness of others,” Dink wrote. “The time has come to leave everybody alone with their conscience.” Armenians should re-channel their energies into improving the state of Armenia.
These ideas were radical for the mainstream of the Armenian diaspora, for whom the campaign for genocide recognition has become a “principle of community organization and power legitimation,’’ said Gerard Libaridian, professor of modern Armenian history at Michigan University.
Dink had said other things that were not appreciated by the mainstream, recalled Razmik Panossian, a writer on Armenian affairs who lives in Montreal.
“He portrayed an image of Armenians in Turkey which did not fit into the traditional thinking of the diaspora of how awful things are,” Panossian recalled. “Hrant Dink was saying, ‘Yes, things aren’t perfect, there are lots of problems, but Turkey is democratizing ... and we do have a community life.’”
The Armenian lobby in the US also objected to Dink’s advocacy of Turkey’s bid to join the EU. “A lot of Armenians in the diaspora don’t agree with this ... They just can’t see Turkey being progressive enough to be part of this club,” Panossian said.
Libaridian recalled that the criticism of Dink went as far as his being “branded as someone who was working for the Turkish state.”
“But once he was assassinated by a Turk, he became a hero,” Libaridian said.
Bill in the Congress
Within hours of the assassination, a principal group in the lobby called on the White House not to oppose the coming bill in the Congress on 1915-22. “In light of this terrible tragedy, it is all the more inappropriate for the administration to oppose congressional reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide,” said Hirair Hovnanian, chairman of the board of the Armenian Assembly of America.
Eleven days later the bill itself, House Resolution 106, was introduced in the Congress. It did not require the president to take any steps against Turkey, but it said 1915-22 did constitute genocide -- and that would have cast a long shadow over relations with Turkey.
President George W. Bush and Turkey mobilized against the bill. Turkey sent envoys to lobby Washington and the head of its armed forces warned that relations with the United States would never be the same. Eight former secretaries of state urged the Congress to drop the bill as potentially damaging to US military interests in Iraq and Afghanistan and harmful to reconciliation efforts between Turkey and Armenia.
Eventually congressional support for the bill collapsed, the decisive argument being the impact of Turkish retaliation on the military campaign in Iraq.
Surprisingly little heed was paid to the views of Turkish Armenians, who also opposed the bill.
Patriarch Mesrob spoke against 106, but members of the lobby dismissed his remarks as being made under the “intimidation” of the Turkish government.
The patriarch did himself no favors in September when he issued a mealy-mouthed statement about 1915-22. Asked by Today’s Zaman whether there had been genocide, he replied: “We had big problems in the past. I find in particular the approach of … collective punishment of Armenians quite wrong. It wasn’t the whole Armenian community who took up arms against the government, but I believe the Turkish Republic should not be accused of what happened then.”
An American Armenian, who knew Turkey and spoke the language, published an open letter to Mesrob rebuking him for his pusillanimity in the Today’s Zaman interview. Writing on the eve of Mesrob’s visit to America, Rachel Goshgarian told the patriarch to speak with a “strong voice. Let it not be a voice mitigated by fear.”
The same criticism could not be leveled at Agos, which regularly refers to the “systematic massacres” of 1915-22. And Agos’s new editor, Dink’s replacement, also opposed bill 106.
Etyen Mahçupyan said the paper wanted Turks to re-appraise 1915-22 on “moral grounds alone.” If the bill had been passed, then the issue would have become part of Washington-Ankara negotiations. And if Turkey were later to shift its position on 1915-22, “then Turks will view it not as a sincere re-evaluation, but as part of the bargaining between Washington and Ankara.”
Today’s Zaman tried to get the lobby’s response to this argument. Both the Armenian Assembly of America and the Armenian National Committee of America did not reply to repeated requests emailed to their press officers. A prominent US Armenian, Harut Sassounian, publisher of The California Courier, refused to respond, saying: “I have no guarantees that anything I say to you will be properly reported, or allowed to be reported, by your editors who have to be concerned about Article 301 to avoid being put in jail.” But Libaridian and Panossian agreed to give what they perceived to be the lobby’s response to objections from Istanbul. They both said that the lobby views Turkish Armenians as speaking under intimidation.
“Their voice does not count because they are seen as a hostage community that is not free to say what it feels,” said Libaridian who, like Panossian, added this was not his view. Libaridian said the lobby’s argument against Mahçupyan’s objection would be that the “internationalization of the Armenian question is a valid strategy.”
19.01.2008 Jasper Mortimer Ankara
Rakel’s Cry Still Ringing In Our Ears
There is currently no one in prison on charges related to Article 301. But there is someone lying under the black earth. It has been exactly one year. We are still in darkness.
The Dink murder hasn’t been solved yet. Therefore, the cry of Hrant’s wife, Rakel, still rings in our ears one year later: “Oh brothers and sisters! Regardless of how old he may be, I know that he was a baby once upon a time. Without questioning the darkness that makes a baby into a murderer, we can get nowhere.” Have we questioned this darkness? No. Is the investigation into the Dink murder confidence-inspiring? No. Does the trial process inspire confidence? No. The worst question is yet to come: Is the judiciary on the side of democracy and law? I understand and share your pain and mourning that come from history, and I miss you, dear brother. What more is there to say?
19.01.2008 Hasan Cemal, Milliyet
After Hrant Dink… by Beril Dedeoglu
Hrant Dink was murdered one year ago. The image and the meaning of his body lying on the sidewalk are not forgotten; we hope that they will never be. The Dink assassination brought together diverging social groups as they showed a common reaction. Some reactions were based simply on the fact that Dink's right to life was violated. He had a lovely family, precious children; he went through several difficulties throughout his life and he was preparing to welcome his grandchild. He was never able to.
However, most of the reactions regarded the values he represented. It was revolting to learn that he was targeted for being Armenian. Those who believe that differences should coexist peacefully thought that Dink was killed to increase social conflict. They also have thought about whether Turkey is a cultural mosaic or not; they have questioned pluralism in our country as they have witnessed where the separatism and alienation can lead. For those who want to live in a democratic environment, Hrant was an encouraging figure and his assassination's aim was to break this encouragement.
Another subject to which attention was drawn by Hrant's death was freedom of expression. He became a target, for he always spoke as he believed and felt. He proved that when someone speaks about his convictions and when these are not compatible with the official viewpoints one may lose one's freedom and even one's life. Turkey was already aware of this truth thanks to its recent history, marked by several military coups. But this assassination occurred when there was no coup, no military regime and as Turkey is engaged in a European Union integration process. This reality has showed that more chronic issues exist in this country. This murder has demonstrated the system's weaknesses and overall social mentalities. Hrant has succeeded in accomplishing many things through his death because everyone was aware of why he was assassinated and who may have organized this murder. No one has said it aloud, but most people knew that the one who pulled the trigger would be caught. They also knew that those who incited the killer to do what he did would remain untouched. One of the reasons for the famous "We are all Armenians" slogan was this very feeling. Gangs, security agents who have infiltrated them and the existence of professionally trained people for these murders have shown ideological and systemic dangers.
The actual hope is that if the conditions that had lead to the Dink assassination are fully understood and if we succeed in bringing light to every possible detail of this murder, the struggle of democratization and transparency will take a great step forward. The modification or the abolition of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) has become the democracy test for the government and for social actors. Unfortunately, this test has still not been passed. The second test includes the identification of the organizers of this crime and of those who helped them through their neglect. Evidence, witnesses and criminal connections should be studied. In fact, Turkey should face its true self. This process also includes other political murders that remain unsolved -- the established system as a whole should be put on trial. Unfortunately this process is functioning very slowly and ineffectively. Maybe this is a sign of the system's resistance to change. Nevertheless, the social groups asking for democratization have no intention of giving in. As long as those who ask for social change exist, there will be no opportunity to become less democratic. There are many people in Turkey, and hopefully abroad, who have learned a lot from Hrant's death.
Dink Murder Investigation Stuck At Square One On First Anniversary
It has been exactly one year since Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was fatally shot outside his office by an ultranationalist teenager, but the investigation into his murder has been stalled since the first few months after the assassination.
The anniversary of Dink's murder is being commemorated with a series of ceremonies in Turkey and abroad. Dink's lawyers, domestic and international rights organizations and activists on this day are expressing their frustration that the murder investigation seems to be stuck at square one and voicing their concern that there may be attempts to protect the suspects. A lengthy list of suspicious irregularities in the Dink murder investigation, including deleted records and hidden files suggestive of a police cover-up attempt, has marred the judicial process. Much of the evidence has indicated that the murder could have been prevented.
On Thursday the Dink family filed a criminal complaint against Istanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah and the officers of the Istanbul Police Department on charges of negligence.
The file accuses Cerrah and his police officers of having "abetted" the perpetrators of the Dink murder and of being members of the gang that plotted his assassination.
Calls for abolishing or at least amending Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which criminalizes "denigrating Turkishness," were renewed as the anniversary of Dink's murder approached. Dink had been sentenced to six months in prison under the controversial article. In a statement released on Friday, the International Publishers Association (IPA) announced they would be participating in the memorial activities to "be there in solidarity with the writers and publishers' community of Turkey, to find out more about the proposed legislative changes, and to meet with writers and publishers who are on trial or under threat." Bjørn Smith-Simonsen, the chairman of the IPA's Freedom to Publish Committee, said in a statement indicating that the IPA has been leading an international campaign for the repeal of Article 301.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a statement, "The authorities must push ahead with the investigation in order to identify all those, whoever they are, who were involved in this terrible crime."
The RSF also called for amending or repealing Article 301. "This is the only way to ensure that Dink is the last victim of hatred in Turkey," it said.
Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy Zafer Üskül, who led a parliamentary committee which confirmed the irregularities in the Dink investigation, said Parliament's Human Rights Committee was working to shed light on the details of the Dink murder. "Inspectors are investigating the claims. Nobody should think they are serving brotherhood in this country by protecting gangs, thugs and terrorists," he said in a reference to apparent attempts to protect the suspects in the Dink case.
According to Fethiye Çetin, who represents the Dink family in the trial, the Turkish public at large stands firmly behind an amendment of the infamous article. In an interview with Today's Zaman, Çetin admitted that changing the article is not something that can be done overnight. According to her, the AK Party government is willing to change the article as needed since it is an important obstacle to Turkey's accession talks with the EU. Çetin believes the government needs to find a balance between the pro-status quo establishment and the will of the people for change to protect its precarious position in Turkey's vulnerable democracy. Although the establishment is against changing 301, the government should not be discouraged and must keep on trying to change it. "They have the public support to change this article," Çetin said.
What went wrong with the investigation
At the end of a long year of police and judicial investigations into the Dink murder, little has been achieved because much evidence linking the suspects to the murder has disappeared, or rather has been purposefully destroyed, according to Çetin. "We simply can't do our work properly," she said.
Following Dink's murder, mounting evidence has indicated that the police were tipped off about the assassination plot a couple of times, months before the actual attack. Istanbul's police chief has also acknowledged that there was a tip-off about a possible attack on Dink, but said its urgency level was too low for his department to take it seriously.
More dishearteningly, links between the police and suspects have been revealed. For example, Erhan Tuncel, a key suspect in the murder, was previously a police informant. Although Tuncel is suspected of having incited Dink's murderer, he is also the one said to have tipped off the Istanbul police. Important pieces of evidence, including Tuncel's police records, were hidden from the court. In fact, Tuncel's file with the police was destroyed, since it constitutes a "state secret" according to officials.
The investigation has yielded more evidence linking the masterminds of the murder plot to the police force in Istanbul, Trabzon, the hometown of most of the suspects and the place where the assassination was planned, and in Ankara, where the police had intelligence about the murder.
Acts committed in the name of obscuring crucial evidence were not limited to hiding or destroying files on suspects, Çetin says. Footage from the security cameras of shops and banks located close to the crime scene recorded during the time of the murder was also mysteriously lost. Çetin believes if these recordings had not been lost, they would have been invaluable in locating the contacts of the hit man and his accomplice, if there was anybody else with him at the time of the murder.
'Nationalism is an instrument of dark forces clinging to power'
According to Çetin, who formerly led a committee on minorities under the Istanbul Bar Association, the blatant hiding or destroying of evidence is deeply related to the unhealthy functioning of the Turkish justice system. "Turkey is not a properly functioning state of law," Çetin said. Like many here, she said she is certain that dark and powerful behind-the-scenes forces within the state hold the real power. "It is these powers that have authority over the justice system," she explained. Çetin said since the founding of the Republic of Turkey there has always been an alliance of some parts of the military and civilian bureaucracy who deemed themselves the guardians of the republic. According to Çetin, the fight has always been between "those who want to change the system and those who want to keep it as it is."
Çetin said current developments suggest that pro-status-quo forces are starting to use nationalism as an instrument to foment public opinion in a way that serves their interests. This new brand of nationalism is increasingly taking root in society, she said. "At this point these groups start to use nationalism as a tool to mobilize the people. Suddenly there is a big civil movement of nationalists coming to the surface, regarding itself as a guardian, too," she added.
This new development she sees is reflected not only in the case of Dink but also in the brutal murders of three Bible publishers in the southeastern city of Malatya last April. The investigation into the Malatya murders has also produced questions similar to those in the Dink investigation, including evidence suggestive of a police cover-up and dubious links between one of the suspects and the Malatya chief of police.
"Indeed, there are huge similarities between these two cases," Çetin confirmed. Those fanning nationalist sentiment in favor of the status quo naturally need to invent an enemy, she said. "Christians are, therefore, an easy target. They are few, they are non-Muslim and they are simply different," she explained.
19.01.2008 Kristina Kamp, Baris Altintas Istanbul
Jan. 19 is the first anniversary of the death of Hrant Dink, whose murder was planned with the help of someone within the state and subsequently covered up.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has declared a war against fanaticism, didn’t attend Dink’s funeral, offering the excuse of a tunnel-opening ceremony, but he did visit the Dink family, offering his condolences and hearing out their requests. Although this was an adequate gesture from citizen Erdogan, it proved meaningless from the perspective of Prime Minister Erdogan’s message concerning the “fight against fanaticism.” In Erdogan’s country, just because they had a different faith, three Protestants were strangled after hours of torture in Malatya, and there were attempts on the lives of some clergymen in several cities in the same year that Dink was murdered. The political authority hasn’t clamped down on the matter determinedly in any of these cases and hasn’t openly declared that what was done was evil.
18.01.2008 Soli Özel, Sabah
Darkness To Reunite With The Hope Of Light
January 19, 2008 Vercihan Ziflioglu Istanbul - Turkish Daily News
COMMEMORATIONS: Hrant Dink, former editor-In-Chief of Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, killed last year on Jan.19, will be remembered with many events in Istanbul
The Turkish Daily News has prepared an exclusive report for the first anniversary of the assassination of Turkey’s prominent journalist Hrant Dink, editor-in-chief of Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly Agos. The report aims to shed light, from various perspectives, on the political process prior to Dink’s assassination, a notorious turning point in Turkey’s Republican history. Below, the reader will find both Armenian and Turkish intellectuals discussing the assassination of Dink. And 'Darkness will reunite with light one day, that’s for certain,' Rakel Dink, Hrant’s wife, says in an exclusive interview to the TDN
Rakel Dink, Hrant Dink's wife
Rakel Dink called out to both the Turkish press and the world press through an exclusive interview with the Turkish Daily News and shared her thoughts about her late husband: “Hrant never thought of leaving Turkey despite many threats because he could not have lived somewhere other than Turkey. His path was one toward friendliness and peace. Unfortunately, he is not with us anymore. I believe darkness will one day reunite with light.”
Etyen Mahçupyan, editor-in-chief of Agos
Mahçupyan discussed his and Dink's plan for changing Agos with the TDN. “Agos was definitely going to continue reporting news on the Armenian community, but the main aim was to turn Agos into a national newspaper with a look at Turkey overall. Agos was going to be Turkey's newspaper.”
Taha Akyol, deputy chairman of executive board of CNN-Türk and columnist at daily Milliyet
“I did not carry that banner because I did not necessarily have to say I am Armenian to commemorate someone assassinated because he was an Armenian. I condemned the murder with my Turkish-Muslim identity.”
Harutyun Sesetyan, co-founder and Agos' joint partner
“Patriarch (Mesrop) Mutafyan even warned Dink about his articles and, in the process, advertisements by Armenian community institutions given to Agos were canceled upon a decision by the Patriarchate.”
Fethiye Çetin, attorney representing Dink family
“Threats against Agos newspaper became most frequent during discussions of the ‘Genocide Bill' in the U.S. Congress. The next trial in the Dink case will take place on Feb. 11. I am not hopeful about the case.”
Rakel Dink: ‘Darkness will reunite with light one day, and that's for certain'
It was a gloomy morning one year ago today, on Jan. 19, 2007, that Hrant Dink, journalist and founding editor-in-chief of Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly Agos, was murdered in front of his newspaper's building in central Istanbul.
Rumors and disputes over behind-the-scenes connections to the assassination and the subsequent trial continue, though Fethiye Çetin, attorney for the Dink family, points out that there are still no signs of notable progress in the case despite the fact that evidence of assassination is clear. Turkish intellectuals note that Dink's murder was the latest in a line dating back to assassinations of prominent figures in the history of Turkish press such as Abdi Ipekçi, Ugur Mumcu and Ahmet Taner Kislali.
With this special report on the first anniversary of Dink's assassination, the Turkish Daily News explores, by tracing back to the initial days when Dink began his bilingual newspaper project, the genesis of weekly Agos and its adventure as a newspaper in Turkey since that time.
The TDN also reveals the connection between Patriarch Mesrob II – leader of the Armenian Apostolic community in Turkey – and weekly Agos. The report explores whom Dink talked with on the phone only 15 minutes before he was murdered. Migirdiç Margosyan, Armenian-origins writer and retired teacher whose books are translated into dozens of languages, told the TDN about Dink's years in an orphanage when he was one of his pupils there.
The TDN spoke to many prominent intellectuals and writers: Fethiye Çetin, attorney in the Dink case; Etyen Mahçupyan, current editor-in-chief of weekly Agos; Harutyun Sesetyan, one of co-founders and Agos' No. 2 partner; Karin Karakasli, who was put on trial, but later acquitted, based on Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) because of her remarks on Dink's disputed article on Armenian identity when she was the responsible editor of Agos (All Turkish newspapers have a “responsible editor” who is personally liable for any violations of Turkish media law); Taha Akyol, deputy chairman of the executive board of CNN-Türk and columnist at daily Milliyet; Diran Lokmagözyan, artist, author and civil society activist from Armenia; Ragip Zarakolu, writer, founder of Turkey's Human Rights Association and owner of Belge Publications, and Murat Belge, writer and professor of comparative literature at Istanbul Bilgi University.
How was Agos born?
“The birth of Agos was due to the fact that a large segment of Armenians in Turkey do not speak the Armenian language,” said Sesetyan. “Armenian newspapers Jamanag (Time) and Marmara, both published in the Armenian language, were not sufficient as papers to meet the needs of the Armenian community in Turkey since both dailies were reporting news and events only within the Armenian community.”
Sesetyan said a large portion of Armenians in Turkey could not read Jamanag and Marmara simply because of their limitations in their mother language. Sesetyan said: “There used to be no institutions providing information about the Armenian community to the national press therefore applications were made to the patriarchate.” He said when Mesrop II Mutafyan was Arkyebisgobos (Metropolite) in 1993, he called Dink, Anna Turay, former staff member of daily Cumhuriyet, and attorney Luiz Bakar in order to form a press council at the patriarchate. “Dink used to deal with trade in the south and also had a bookstore. I was a member of the board of directors of Surp Pirgiç Armenian Hospital in the Yedikule district of Istanbul. Bakar was an attorney at the time. Only Turay was a journalist among us,” Sesetyan said, noting that they formed a press council of the patriarchate in 1994. The council, headed by Mutafyan, responded to questions and demands conveyed to it during a period of two years after its formation. Sesetyan said it was then that a noticeable sense of curiosity about the Armenian community living in Turkey gradually grew in the national media.
At that point, the press council, gathering under the leadership of then Metropolite Mutafyan, decided to publish a newspaper in Turkish to reach Armenians who do not speak or read Armenian and to introduce Armenian culture and Armenian people to Turkish society. Before its name was chosen, the prospective newspaper was initially proposed as a supplement of the daily Marmara, whose editor-in-chief was Rober Haddeciyan, and the supplement would be in Turkish. However, Marmara's editorial board did not approve of producing a supplement in Turkish. Then, the idea of publishing a newspaper in Turkish was suspended for a while, Sesetyan said. But it was suggested again by Dink in the summer of 1995. “Hrant closed up his shops, assigned his businesses in Istanbul to his brothers and spent all the money he had acquired on the newspaper. And Turay, Bakar and I became the joint owners of the paper that would later be named Agos,” he said.
Armenian community canceled ads:
“We decided it would be a magazine-like weekly newspaper since it was not quite possible to report news every single day from a community of only 50,000 members,” Sesetyan said. Then, Rupen Masoyan, both an Istanbul resident and an Armenian writer, named the weekly ‘Agos.' The word ‘Agos' in Armenian refers to a hollow dug in soil to sow a seed. “Water flowing into a hollow shapes the seed in it to help it grow. That is how the name of the newspaper we created became Agos,” he said.
“We wanted Agos to have an opposing voice and that voice had to defend truths. The paper's idea originally belonged to Mutafyan but we asked him to remain distant from the newspaper after he was elected patriarch. Our aim was to separate earthly from ethereal because a newspaper should have no connections with religion or the patriarchate,” Sesetyan said, emphasizing that different points of view that emerged during the foundation process of Agos stimulated tension between Dink and the patriarchate later on. He said Patriarch Mesrob II (Mutafyan) even warned Dink about his articles and, during the process, advertisements given to Agos by Armenian community institutions were canceled upon a decision by the patriarchate.
National press supports Agos:
“The first edition of Agos was published in April 1996. We rented a miserable flat without a toilet or a kitchen in the Dolapdere neighborhood,” Sesetyan said, adding that they received great support from the national press regarding issues ranging from page layout to logo design. “We presented Agos to the Armenian community with a cocktail party held at the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC),” he said, underlining that the association did not charge any money. He said when they had problems in terms of printing Agos due to lack of sufficient financial resources, the biggest support came from the daily Cumhuriyet. Then, Agos launched a subscription campaign. In the initial years, 20 percent of the subscribers were outside of the Armenian community, Sesetyan said, noting that Agos began receiving its first obituaries from the Armenian community only two years after it was founded. “Then, Turay and Dink began to pay attention to Agos' publication policy while Bakar undertook the task of managing internal affairs with the Armenian community. And I was responsible for editing. Then, in order to follow the weekly's official matters, Diran Bakar, an attorney from the Armenian community, Sarkis Seropyan and Harut Özer joined the founding partners, who were four at the beginning.”
Footsteps of murder:
“Except Turay, we were all new to learning journalism and Hrant adapted himself to his new job very well. He spent almost all his time on the weekly. We had to take care of our own jobs, too. A large part of Agos' capital belonged to Hrant and me,” Sesetyan said, adding, “Hrant's name gradually began to be identified with the Agos name.” He said Dink and he thought at the beginning that Agos could survive only two years. Sesetyan said the Armenian diaspora also welcomed Agos.
Sesetyan, who described the Agos of 2000 almost as a nongovernmental organization (NGO), said both national and international press organs paid great attention to Dink and Agos. It was when Dink began to appear in the media that they embarked on a journey of no return, he said, pointing out that threats against the weekly also became frequent during that period. Sesetyan noted it was also during that process that some fellow partners broke with Agos due to controversial opinions about Agos' publishing policy. “Some partners warned Hrant that he should write more moderate and softer articles. It was felt that a dangerous turning point was approaching. Press interest as well as some external factors prompted Hrant to write articles with more profound meaning and content. He started analyze more deeply. He expressed his ideas about the sad events that took place in 1915. The die was cast from then on,” he said. According to Sesetyan, threats against Agos became even more frequent after 2000. He said Dink had said to them, “I do not want to drag you into danger with me. If you wish, you may leave Agos.” Sesetyan argued that a disputed news story published in Agos on the true identity of Turkey's first female aviator Sabiha Gökçen was manipulated in order to turn public opinion against Dink.
“Hrant wanted to live as an ordinary individual in society. He never, not even for a moment, thought of leaving Turkey. Yes, he was worried but the idea of being murdered never ever crossed his mind. He did not welcome the idea of having a bodyguard,” Sesetyan said. Dink said he had not found the trials he faced during cases filed against him democratic enough, Sesetyan added. He said, “even though Hrant delegated his work and dealt with some other business, he never broke his ties with Agos,” adding, “If Jan. 19 had not happened, Dink would have realized his new project related to Agos.”
Plans for change:
Etyen Mahçupyan, who was assigned new editor-in-chief of Agos the day after Dink was murdered, said they had been preparing plans for changes in Agos. Two close friends worked on a draft plan for Agos during a whole year. “Hrant was thinking that Agos's mission was completed,” said Mahçupyan, adding that the necessary bridges between Turkish and Armenian society had been established.
Mahçupyan said he started moving step by step toward Hrant's project. “I did not have time to think about whether I should take over as editor-in-chief of Agos,” he said, noting that the idea came from the Dink family and that it was not possible for him to deny their request. Mahçupyan, announcing that they will be following Agos' mission shaped at the time of its foundation, said even though his name is officially referred to as editor-in-chief at Agos, that role will gradually be divided among younger names.
‘Election atmosphere triggered murder':
Mahçupyan noted although Dink sometimes thought of leaving Turkey only for a while, he never implemented that idea. He said, “Hrant could not live away from Turkey.” Dink had told Mahçupyan shortly before his assassination that 2007 would be a difficult year for Agos. Mahçupyan, drawing attention to a recent trend where nationalists have begun opposing the Recep Tayyip Erdogan-led Justice and Development Party (AKP) because of its pro-European Union stance, said, “Hrant was thinking 2007 would be a breaking point because of general elections and it so happened. Those circles that sought to drag Turkey into turmoil amid an election atmosphere perpetuated the assassination of Hrant. The occurrence of this assassination in 2007 has profound meaning in that sense.” Mahçupyan told the TDN that despite assassinations becoming more frequent from one year before the Dink's murder, necessary protective measures were not taken. Mahçupyan, describing the Armenian society in Turkey as a “small Ottoman community,” said Turkey's Armenians, uncomfortable and cautious, became even more introverted after Dink's assassination.
Mahçupyan noted that Armenians living in Turkey are divided into two parts in terms of their opinions on the Dink assassination. “For some Armenians, Dink was ultra-brave. According to them, it was inevitable that such events would hit those who never refrained from voicing their opinion loudly. Rather, they thought what should be done was to remain silent. Examples of that exist in history. Other Armenians never accepted his assassination and openly expressed their reaction. Armenian youth never hesitated to express their reaction and opinions immediately after the assassination. They said they were also present and living in Turkey,” Mahçupyan said. He added Agos' aim was to create communication between Turks and Armenians and Dink achieved that mission.
Fifteen minutes to murder:
Karin Karakasli, former responsible editor of Agos, and Mahçupyan are the last people who talked on the phone with Dink. Mahçupyan called Dink 15 minutes before he was assassinated and the two close friends had a conversation on horse races, something they placed bets on together. Mahçupyan said, “it was just an ordinary day, Hrant was cheerful when he was speaking. He did not tell me that he was going to go to the bank. News that he was shot came 15 minutes after we talked on the phone. My partner whom we used to place bets on horse races together everyday was not there anymore and that was incredible.”
Dink talked on the phone with Karakasli before he talked to Mahçupyan. Dink's call to Karakasli ended after he told her that he would call her again later in the day. Dink wanted Karakasli to resume writing columns in Agos. Karakasli said, “the Dink assassination and its trial process harmed my sense of justice.” Karakasli's Agos adventure started when she was 23. Karakasli, who used to write columns in Agos upon Dink's request, underwent a trial based on Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) because of Dink's article on Armenian identity and she was acquitted. Karakasli, who was also responsible editor of Agos at the time, said, “Dink was in fact criticizing diaspora Armenians when he used the disputed words of ‘poisonous blood' in his article. A court expert who read Dink's series of articles reached the same conclusion, and that was recorded. I was acquitted because responsible editors were not tried as required under press law, but I did not feel happy about it. It would be unfair to mention my experience when how much Hrant suffered is taken into consideration.”
Karakasli, stressing that Dink was heartbroken for being misunderstood, said, “what remained in my mind about Dink is his image as a heartbroken man pacing back and forth in his office room. He loved this country and being misunderstood was depleting him day by day.” Karakasli returned to Agos in 2006, just after Dink's assassination and resumed writing her columns. “Not seeing Hrant gives me pain. I am afraid to speak of my memories and recall them. Telling about my memories means I accept Hrant's death and I just cannot stand it,” she said. “A few years ago, if I had been asked to sacrifice my life in exchange for the lifting of Article 301, I would have done it, but nothing is meaningful anymore because Hrant was murdered,” she said.
Condemning the murder with a Turkish-Muslim identity:
Pointing out that Dink's tough tone in his articles caused tension, Taha Akyol, deputy chairman of the executive board of CNN-Türk and columnist at daily Milliyet, said he had talked to Dink about the issue: “When I told him I found his tone in his articles harsh and some of his views tough, he responded: ‘You have perceived them as such, however, my articles are quite understandable. I do not think that I write with a harsh tone.'” Akyol, noting political views should be expressed in a more moderate tone rather than one infuriating social polarization and hostility among different segments of society, said although he sometimes thought of criticizing Dink's articles, he refrained. Akyol explained his reason: “I did not want to cause tension between Armenian-origins and Turkish-origins citizens. If I had criticized Dink's articles, I would have contributed to that tension, though unwillingly. And I refrained.” Akyol said, although he was critical of Dink's articles, he always cited Dink and mentioned his name with praise because of his neutral stance toward the diaspora. He said he did not carry the banner that read, “We are all Hrant Dink, We are all Armenians,” the slogan chanted by crowds that had gathered after Dink's assassination.
Akyol argued Dink was assassinated not because of his Armenian identity but because of his views. “Just like Abdi Ipekçi, Ugur Mumcu and many others, Dink was also assassinated because of his political views. I do not think that there is a difference between the assassinations in terms of their nature,” he said.
Armenia's view of the murder:
For Akyol, a vital prerequisite for the establishment of the Turk-Armenian peace Dink wished to see before he died is solution of the Nagorno-Karabagh issue. The Nagorno-Karabagh conflict broke out when Armenia invaded and occupied the majority-Armenian populated Azerbaijani territory in 1991. Akyol said, “I stand for the establishment of peace between the two peoples, Armenians and Turks, but it is a fact that there is a present occupation problem that urgently needs to be solved. I am not sure about the soundness of the idea that bilateral relations between Turkey and Armenia could develop given the situation.”
Writer, artist and civil society activist, Lokmagözyan, who was born in Istanbul but later migrated to Armenia, said, “borders between the two countries will not be opened unless radical changes take place in regional and international politics. The essential problem between the two countries is not one related to borders but lack of healthy diplomatic relations.” Lokmagözyan said despite Dink not being known well enough in Armenia, his assassination is perceived as a continuation of alleged genocide in Armenia. That is to say, people of Armenia perceive Dink's assassination as killing of ‘1,500,000 plus 1,'” Lokmagözyan said.
Armenia wants the World War 1-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire termed as genocide, whereas Turkey refutes that the killings amounted to genocide and has suggested a joint commission of historians to research the matter.
“Hrant was not murdered for being an Armenian nationalist. For some segments of society in Turkey, Hrant himself was a danger because he used to work for democratization of Turkey and for contributing to Turkey becoming a country respectful of human rights,” Lokmagözyan said. According to Lokmagözyan, some circles in Turkey perceive democracy as being more dangerous than Armenian nationalists. “The hundreds of thousands of people pouring into streets to protest and condemn Dink's assassination immediately after it occurred was only a tiny consolation. I was hopeful when I saw so many people chanting and standing up for Hrant but those hundreds of thousands were like flash in the pan after a sudden flame.”
Lokmagözyan said just like the majority of Turks, most Armenians too did not stand up for Hrant before he was murdered. “Armenians in Turkey used to think they would loose their comfort as Hrant kept voicing his ideas loudly. They just left Hrant alone to face so many threats in the middle of a minefield,” he said. Lokmagözyan said Agos' tone changed after Jan. 19, 2007, and argued that weekly has been recently applying self-censorship. “I was born in Istanbul, grew up in Germany, and preferred to live in Armenia,” he said. “They used to call me filthy gavur (infidel) in Turkey and filthy Turk in Germany. Armenia is the only country where I can be free of all these degradations,” he concluded.
Dink and Belge planned US visit:
Professor Murat Belge, a writer and academic who argues that Turkey is part of a geography where nationalism is felt deeply and practiced in a radical way, said some forces in Turkey fear the country's becoming a member of the EU. The reason is that some segments of society have a phobia that they will lose the power in their hands in case Turkey integrates with the EU. They first saw communism as a threat, Belge said, adding, “they said Islamic fundamentalism was marching to power with the AKP's victory in the elections. On the other hand, the Kurdish issue was perpetually put forward and, thus, they created an image of Turkey constantly surrounded by danger. They said the EU wants to divide us. Some forces manipulated those discourses and in that way they legitimized their very way of existence. What they did was to create a nationalist atmosphere.”
Belge stressed that Dink assassination was also a part of that recent tendency. “Hrant was the voice of minority. He rebuilt the bridges between Armenians and Turks. But there were those who never wanted the establishment of peace between Turks and Armenians. For them, Hrant had to be eliminated,” he said. “I spent most of my life thinking if I will be murdered,” said Belge, adding, “since I myself am a minority in this country because of my thoughts.” Dink and Belge had made a joint decision before Dink's murder. They were going to the United States to hold a conference on the Armenian issue at the University of Michigan. Belge said Dink was assassinated before they carried out their plan. For Belge, Turkey currently is faced with several problems, among which the Armenian issue that followed the 1915 events comes in first place.
News about Sabiha Gökçen ‘trap':
Ragip Zarakolu, writer, and founder of the Human Rights Association in Turkey and owner of Belge Publications, said, “We, as the entire society, should have protected Hrant.” His comments on the Dink assassination are: “Forced migration in 1915 was initially applied to Armenian intellectuals. 1915 corresponds to the contemporary date of Jan. 19, 2007 in terms of what was experienced. With the Dink case, I recalled the notorious events that occurred in the past.” Zarakolu noted they as human rights advocates and writers' associations tried to protect Dink against threats. He said they submitted a petition to the public prosecutor in 2004 and were able to file a small-scale lawsuit related to threats against Dink and Agos. But that case was not sufficient, he said. Zarakolu said, “I never ever even had the slightest idea in my mind that Hrant might be murdered, that they would go that far,” and underlined that it is not forgivable that Dink was not provided protection despite all the threats against him.
Zarakolu continued that he as a Turkish intellectual was ashamed of the manipulation of being Armenian as an instrument of insult. “An unlucky allegory,” is how he described Dink's disputed article on Armenian identity since the article is thought to have triggered Dink's murder. “Dink criticized Armenian nationalists with his description of ‘poisonous blood,' but unfortunately the IQ level in this country was not taken into account,” Zarakolu said.
Zarakolu drew the attention to a news story on Turkey's first female aviator Sabiha Gökçen, also foster daughter of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey. The story was published in Agos. Zarakolu argued that the process of pressures on Dink started with the publication of that news story in Agos and described it as a “trap,” though he did not explain the reason why he used such a metaphor. Zarakolu said, “Official history in Turkey takes a narrow minded view. The issue could have been approached from different perspectives. After founding the Turkish Language Institution (TDK), Atatürk consigned it to Hagop Vahram Çerçiyan of Armenian origins. Again, he gave the surname ‘Dilaçar' to Mr. Çerçiyan. It is possible to cite more examples. It is really very hard to perceive what is being experienced these days,” he said.
For Zarakolu, Dink's mission is similar to that of Martin Luther King's. “King tried to build bridges between the colored people and the rest of American society. Hrant did the same. He also expended great effort to build a similar bridge between Turks and Armenians. Both King and Dink paid the cost of that mission with their life. I wish no bridges built in the name of peace are destroyed from now on, but, unfortunately Hrant was neither the first nor will he be the last one,” Zarakolu said.
Dink's orphanage years:
Dink was born in the central Anatolian province of Malatya in 1954. His parents divorced immediately after they moved to Istanbul. Left on his own, Dink was placed in an orphanage in the historic Gedikpasa quarter of Istanbul. Dink continued his education at Armenian community schools. He completed his secondary education at Surp Haç Tibrevank Armenian Boarding High School in the Üsküdar (Scutari) district of Istanbul. Turkish-Armenian writer Migirdiç Margosyan, who was Dink's teacher when he was a pupil at the orphanage, told the TDN about Dink's personality. Margosyan said, “The effect of the years spent at the orphanage on Dink's personality cannot be denied. He hungered for a family. He was an overly sentimental little boy, but a quiet and calm one. He never caused any problems. He felt thoroughly all the pain and happiness inside and was not able to control his emotions. And that character of him did not change when he grew up and became an adult. Hrant was a humanist and always stood for the oppressed.”
“A year has passed since that macabre day, but I will never be able to accept my son Hrant's death,” he said. Margosyan noted when Dink was asked what kind of a feeling living in Turkey was, his reply was always, “It is wonderful and I recommend it to you all.” Living in Turkey is not easy, Margosyan said, recalling that Dink never wanted protection for himself despite all the threats against him. “Those who are ashamed are those who are guilty and have complexes. Hrant never considered himself as guilty of anything. Indeed, he was so passionately fond of his freedom that he could not live with guards,” he said.
Agos has never deserved Dink's murder, Margosyan said, expressing his emotions. “Hrant was a brave individual trying to build bridges of friendliness and peace between Turks and Armenians,” he said, pointing that Turkey's Armenians, already on alert during the process following Dink's assassination, are now hesitated about leaving or staying in Turkey. But above all, Margosyan said, a family has been broken up. He also described reports in national press in recent months that Arad Dink had escaped to Belgium as pure speculation. “Those who find Arad's departure of this country useful for themselves would definitely accuse him of escaping from Turkey, even if he goes for holiday. This is a matter of approach. It should not be forgotten that Hrant preferred to stay in Turkey despite all threats. He never left the country he was born,” Margosyan concluded.
Not hopeful for the future:
Çetin said the state's principle duty is to provide security to all its citizens. She noted she became attorney for Dink in 2004 and said, “No precautions were taken though the approaching of Dink's assassination was felt openly.”
Çetin told the TDN about the legal process following Dink's assassination. She made the following claims: “The instigators of Hrant's assassination are from Trabzon's Pelitli region. It is a region controlled by the gendarmerie. An investigation into this issue has been launched. Before the assassination, Coskun Yigici, the husband of the suspected instigator Yasin Hayal's aunt, had told gendarmerie things like he was paid and he purchased a gun. Only two junior gendarmerie officials were tried within the framework of the investigation. That trial indicates the gendarmerie had information about the issue. If Yigici had conveyed that information to the gendarmerie, this might mean the provincial head of the gendarmerie was also aware of it. Even though they were junior gendarmerie officials, the fact that they were sued means the Trabzon Gendarmerie Command and gendarmerie intelligence in Ankara also know about the issue. The most important point here is that even though all this was known by those authorities, no precautions were taken to protect Dink.”
Çetin also claimed those people, who are still in office, are also the ones submitting documents to inspectors and prosecutors leading the investigation about Dink assassination. For Çetin, given all this, it is not possible to talk about a just trial. Underlining the fact that evidence of the Dink assassination is crystal clear, Çetin said court verdicts on the issue are brief and without justification. Çetin said revealing the dark connections in the Dink assassination is crucial in terms of Turkey's future. That will pave the way for a legal system based on just, equal and independent treatment of all citizens, she said, adding Arad Dink and Sarkis Seropyan were put on trial after publishing a news story titled “Investigation launched into Hrant Dink” in Agos. Çetin said although the national press ran that story, no newspaper other than Agos was sued. According to Çetin, the Agos case violates Article 3 of the Penal Code, which states no discrimination based on religion, language, race, and sex can be made when citizens are on trial. But this was violated, Çetin said. For her, the green light for the Dink assassination was given in 2004 and Dink was shown as the target. She said Dink kept his cool despite all the threats, but only death threats against his son Arad appalled him. Çetin said Dink never reported any of the threats he received to officials.
Did We Learn Lessons From The Dink Murder?
Ilnur Cevik 18 January 2008 email@example.com
Hirant Dink will be remembered on January 19 on the first year of his murder. Has Turkey learnt any lessons in the past year. Or do we just suffice with the reality that there are nationalist monsters among us that are prepared to kill at all costs?
It has been a year since Hirant Dink was gunned down in the heart of Istanbul in broad daylight. The suspected murderer and his accomplices have been caught and they are now on trial.
So has this really solved anything?
Is the Turkish society better off and have we managed to change some of the crooked mentalities in Turkey that led to the murder of this fine journalist who was of Armenian origin?
Or has the killing shown that there are too many hotheads who are prepared to even applaud the suspected killers of Dink in their songs and in other functions?
We saw the clash of all kinds of extremes and sentiments after the Dink murder.
There were emotional scenes all around.
Some of our colleagues and other intellectuals declared "we are also Armenians" to protest the nationalist chauvinist mentality that led to the murder of Dink. However, on the other side we also witnessed ultranationalists praising the suspected killers. There were even photos of the killer taken with security forces with Turkish flags in the background.
It was clear that there were some hidden hands even among the security forces that approved such killings… That is really what makes us shudder!
A year has passed and the question marks remain.
No one can really answer whether or not the police had been tipped off about the assassination and did nothing to stop it. No one can really say whether Dink was subjected to harassment by the authorities.
No one can really say if measures are taken so that we do not experience another such dreadful murder.
Only Interior Minister Besir Atalay could admit that the killing of Dink hurt Turkey's image abroad…
Turkey was shocked and some even saddened with the assassination of Dink. But we can hardly say this incident created an awareness of the monsters that have been created in Turkey.
Look at the flags that have been flying all over the country for months. Look at the nationalist sentiments that have been promoted with the deaths of our soldiers in PKK attacks.
Remembering Hrant Dink By Vartan Oskanian*
I can confess that I have lived through two deep and unforgettable shocks during my years in office; once in 1999 when the stability of Armenia was threatened by gunmen and the second time last year, when I received the call that Hrant Dink had been assassinated. Both were attacks not on men, but on ideas and values.
Hrant's murder was an assault on democratic state building -- of the Turkish state. His murderers took aim at his vision of a Turkey that allowed free speech, that tolerated open discourse and that embraced its minority citizens, like himself.
We miss Hrant. He would come to Armenia a couple of times a year. In September 2006, when he spoke at the third Armenian Diaspora Conference, his message was that as members of the European family, Turkey and Armenia would have normal relations, because even the unwilling in Turkey would be induced to find a way to dialogue. That was music to our ears, echoing as it did our own wishes.
He also addressed the "International Conference on the 90th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide" we held in Yerevan in April 2005. Everyone respected his ardent, reasoned plea for dialogue, for distinguishing between today's Turkish Republic and the perpetrators of atrocities nearly 100 years ago. He recounted passionately how he had explained to Turkish authorities that Armenians are looking for their roots -- the same roots which the Ottoman Empire slashed when it attempted to completely eradicate a people and tear it away from its home, its culture and its traditions.
Each time he came to Yerevan, we would find a few minutes to talk. It was important that I hear from him about the mood in Turkey. Hrant was the right person to ask because he was not just an Armenian living in Turkey, he was proud of both his identities -- Turkish and Armenian -- and was insulted and angered that while trying to reconcile them he was accused of "insulting Turkishness."
When he was first charged under Article 301 for "insulting Turkishness," I asked whether it would help if I wrote a letter or spoke publicly. He responded confidently. "My thanks and gratitude, but right now, I'm all I need. So help me God, I'm going to take my struggle and my rights all the way to the end."
Later, he wondered how "on the one hand, they call for dialogue with Armenia and Armenians and on the other want to condemn or neutralize their own citizens who work for dialogue."
Hrant Dink was candid and courageous, but not naive. Still, he could not have predicted this kind of "neutralization." His honest and brave voice was silenced. Worse, some saw in this assassination a clear message that the danger they face lies deeper than a mere judicial conviction.
This message is just one of the dividends that this killing offered those who contributed to the fanatical nationalist environment which colors Turkish politics in and out of Turkey. The brutality, the impunity, the violence of Hrant's murder serves several political ends. First, it makes Turkey less interesting for Europe, which is exactly what some in the Turkish establishment want. Second, it scares away Armenians and other minorities in Turkey from pursuing their civil and human rights. Third, it scares those bold Turks who are beginning to explore these complicated, sensitive subjects in earnest.
In Armenia, we have insisted for more than a decade, that although we are the victims of historical injustice and although we are on the other side of a border that Turkey has kept closed, we are prepared at any time for dialogue with our neighbor on any subject, so long as there are normal relations between us, so long as this last closed border in Europe is opened, so long as someone on the other side wants to talk. We are ready.
A year ago, we were moved by the outpouring of fundamental, human grief from all levels of Turkish society, especially from those who have been scared by the demonstration of such violence on the part of a young person, and saw it for what it is -- the continuation of hatred and enmity into the next generation.
Hrant Dink's family, his colleagues at and around Agos and his friends in Armenia and in Turkey will find some comfort knowing that today and tomorrow Hrant will be remembered - by Armenians, who share his vision of understanding and harmony among peoples, and by Turks, who share his dream of living in peace with neighbors and with history.
*Vartan Oskanian is the minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Armenia
I'd Have Told Hrant That...
January 16, 2008 Cengiz ÇANDAR
Half of January has passed. Three more days left to the anniversary of the murder of Hrant Dink, Armenian-Turkish journalist. Last year on Jan. 15, he was alive and well. We were living not knowing that he would be killed on Jan. 19. We were all together. But three days later we lost someone.
Since then we somehow couldn't multiply, I think. We have remained short.
The first thing that came to my mind, as the year 2008 entered, was: “We are entering the month that Hrant got killed.” And I said to myself, “His death anniversary is 19 days away.” And now there are three days left.
Last year on Jan. 15, I think Hrant was either writing, or planning to write, an article he titled “The ‘dove skittishness' of my soul.” Since the article was published on the day he was murdered, it must have been sent to print the day before. So last year on Jan. 15 he was writing, or planning to write that article.
The important thing is that Hrant was skittish like a dove last year on Jan. 15. Four days later his skittishness was confirmed. “The dove was bloodied.”
As hundreds or thousands of others in this country and abroad, I have remained concentrated on Hrant for days. People are trying to keep Hrant alive by organizing commemoration ceremonies, panels and exhibitions.
And I am in a mood for days, as if Hrant is on a long trip so we cannot see him but he will return and I will have to tell him all about the last year because he couldn't see or hear since he has been away. Therefore I am trying to organize a balance sheet in my mind.
I am trying to sort things out in my mind in a hierarchical order so that, if Hrant were to come back – I know that it is impossible but still – and ask me, “What has happened here since I have been gone?” I would be able to answer him.
Since he has gone, the most important thing has been that “he was not here.” Jan. 19, 2007 was the day he was murdered. There were many important developments in 2007 but none as important as his death on Jan. 19; history will prove this as it is written and better understood. This is my opinion and I often let him know this too.
“There are pre-Dink and post-Dink periods as many people have voiced. That is to say it should be dated; we cannot be the way we were in the past and cannot remain as we are at present. This is not just to express how Hrant is important for us or how valuable he is or how critical he is as part of history. This also means a genuine transformation he caused in our minds, as much as his murder caused the hurt and the feeling of being crippled that we go through,” wrote Nilüfer Göle, renowned sociology professor. At some point in her article, she also wrote: “With the murder of Hrant as though the year of 1915 came back; past and present overlapped as his undeniable murder before the eyes of every one made us accomplice to the past and present. We were being slapped in the face that we cannot be innocent anymore.”
I would tell Hrant, “After these sentences were written, some things happened in this country that you wouldn't believe even in your dreams.”
“Abdullah Gül was elected president despite a military intervention. You wouldn't believe but the Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the votes of every two people and formed the government again. All these took place in the environment of polarization your death triggered and in the aftermath of the political crisis caused by the same polarization. The disappointment your death created suddenly turned into a joyful hope,” I would tell Hrant.
What else would I tell him, were he to ask?
Then, I think, we would pause for a long moment in this “dialogue”…
I would ponder whether I should say: “The investigation and trial process following your murder surely turned into a ‘scandal' for the history of Turkish justice and of the security bureaucracy.” But this is the truth.
Were he to ask me, “How could this have happened; how is this so since Gül became the president, Besir Atalay the Minister of Interior and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who expressed condolences by visiting my house, became a powerful prime minister?” I would have a hard time to answer.
Or perhaps I would pass the ball to Murat Belge and read the excerpt, “You came to the government by almost winning 50 percent of the votes. Were these votes given for you to make expected democratic openings or for you to get along with your opponents stopping you from making the said openings and to conquer their hearts?” (From his article titled “Don't solve the problem, just play with the ball”.)
Perhaps I would tell Hrant about a columnist making striking assessments in his articles but not much was known when he was alive; H. Gökhan Özgün. Hrant hadn't believed but Özgün said, “This republic was established to atrociously convert Turkey into Christianity and then into Islam” in his article titled “Why is Alevism still a problem?”
Probably the reason why Hrant was murdered and why his murder was investigated inadequately lays in this assessment Özgün made. He also makes the following observation, “There is one thing I am certain. One cannot fail to solve the Alevi issue, cannot solve the Article 301 issue either, not even in 100 years, and cannot solve the Kurdish issue not even in 100-years.”
“They even failed on amendments in Article 301, let alone abolishment of it. If we continue to get involve in the issue, we would be trapped too. Perhaps we will come where you are,” I would say to Hrant.
Last year on Jan. 15 while Hrant was “skittish like a dove” and wasn't he shot to be killed couple days after writing? “…but I know that in this country people do not touch and disturb the doves.”
“Who would have known?” you might say.
But now we know.
This is the most important “information” as the year of 2007 has transferred into 2008, along with the AKP's winning the general elections by acquiring 47 percent of votes and with Gül's being elected president. This is more important than the start of the “acceptability process.” Perhaps I would have told Hrant this too.
Was Dink's Murderer Alone?
January 16, 2008 Istanbul – Turkish Daily News
The murderer of Hrant Dink, a Turkish citizen of Armenian origins, journalist and editor-in-chief of the weekly Agos, may not have been alone before and after the murder, the daily Milliyet reported yesterday.
After O.S.'s pictures were published, an unnamed person called the Pelitli Gendarmerie in the Black Sea province of Trabzon and reported that he knew O.S., where he lived and worked and his father's name, said the daily.
But although the phone call was made Jan. 20, the day after the murder, it was filed nine days later by the gendarmerie. The caller said, ?he ran away from here (Trabzon), he went to Istanbul with his friends, it (murder) is committed there,? the daily Milliyet reported. Although O.S. said he was alone in planning and committing the crime, that person's call says he went to Istanbul with his friends. Suspect and informant, Erhan Tuncel, in his testimony had also implied O.S. was not alone, said Milliyet. Coskun Igci, uncle of the suspect Yasin Hayal charged with inciting the murder, reported to two gendarmerie stations that Hayal would murder Hrant Dink.
The trial of the police officials who did not take any action after the report will start Jan. 22.
Armenians Of Moscow To Organize Picket At Turkish Embassy January 19
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ On January 19, 2008, the Youth Union of New Nakhijevan and Russian Dioceses of the Armenian Apostolic Church initiates a series of public events dated to the first anniversary of Agos editor Hrant Dink’s slaying.
As reported by Yerkramas, the events include a liturgy in memory of killed Christians in Turkey, a picket at the Turkish embassy in Moscow, round table discussions titled Truth Makes Us Free, screening of a film dedicated to Hrant Dink.
A statement calling on the Turkish authorities to stop prosecution of Turkish publisher Recep Zakaroglu, who can face a 3-year imprisonment for “insulting Turkishness” will be adopted. A resolution will be also developed and sent to EU, U.S. and Turkish leaders.
The regional national and cultural autonomy of Assyrians of Moscow will also participate in the events. A month ago lecturer of the Swedish University of Assyrian descent Orebro Fuad Deniz was killed by unknown radicals. Deniz was universally known for his publications about the Assyrian genocide in the Ottoman Empire in early 20th century.
Dink Family Files Complaint Against Istanbul Police Chief
January 19, 2008 ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
In the light of new developments in slain journalist Hrant Dink's case, the Dink family's lawyers filed criminal complaints Thursday against Istanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah, Trabzon's Gendarmerie Commander Colonel Ali Öz, and other officials, accusing them of hiding evidence and negligence of duty.
Dink was murdered in Istanbul on Jan.19, 2007.
One more ‘elder brother'
According to telephone records in the case files, it became obvious that Osman Hayal, the brother of the suspected instigator of Dink's murder Yasin Hayal, was in Istanbul on the day of the murder. Some witnesses said last year that they saw a person at the crime scene, who looked like Yasin, the daily Radikal reported yesterday. Osman in his statement to the media last year had said he was at home on the day of murder with his family and his brother. However, after it became obvious from his cell phone signals that he was in Istanbul, he testified to police in Trabzon, the hometown of the suspects, that he was in Istanbul to visit his relatives.
Meanwhile in another case against two gendarmerie officials in Trabzon, alleging that they too neglected duty in Dink's murder, critical information about the murder was revealed. Gendarmerie officials in their report after the murder, presented to the attention of the regional and general command of gendarmerie forces wrote that four individuals traveled to Istanbul, prepared the plans of the route between weekly Agos' building and Dink's house and YTL 500 was sent to Yasin to purchase a gun. However those gendarmerie officials did not mention that information in a second report, which was presented to the intelligence service of the gendarmerie.
Negligence of duty
The lawyers of the Dink family in their complaint against Cerrah highlighted that it is clear from two different reports by Interior Ministry inspectors and in an expert report that Cerrah and other Istanbul police officers were involved. However, although the Interior Ministry's inspector Sükrü Yildiz, relying on the expert report, concluded that both Cerrah and Intelligence Director Ahmet Ilhan Güler in the Istanbul Police Department did not fulfill their duty to control, he reported that only Güler should be investigated, the lawyers said. The recent development that Osman was in Istanbul on the day of the murder, made the family lawyers suspect his involvement in the murder. Istanbul Police Department and the police chief did not take the necessary measures to prevent the assassination, lawyers said, due to the fact that Osman was in Istanbul and it was simple for the police department to attain that information given the means they have at their disposal. The lawyers also demanded an investigation to determine the source of the information present in the reports of gendarmerie officials in Trabzon.
Dink, a Turkish citizen of Armenian origins, journalist and editor-in-chief of the weekly Agos was shot dead last year on Jan. 19 by a teenage suspect. The murder suspect was arrested the day after the murder in the Black Sea province of Trabzon and the capture of other suspects followed later.
We Remember Hrant!
TDN editorial by Yusuf KANLI January 19, 2008
Last year on this date Jan. 19 our friend and colleague Hrant was felled in a heinous attack... One year on, the masterminds of his murder are still at large
Saturday, Jan. 19 is the first anniversary of the murder of our friend and colleague Hrant Dink in front of his Armenian-Turkish bilingual weekly Agos newspaper. A year after the cold-blooded and well-orchestrated murder of our friend, a young boy O.S. who pulled the trigger of a gun placed in his hands is behind bars but the masterminds are still at large; we are still complaining of the “failure” of the investigators to identify what dark centers of deep power were involved in the heinous crime; we are still expecting the government to get rid of the contentious Penal Code Article 301 which regulates penalties for “insulting Turkishness” and which made Hrant a target...
“We will go wherever it will go,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had vowed when he visited the home of Hrant to express his condolences to Rachel, the wife of Hrant... The government must have been busy with some other important events and the investigation did not go anywhere at all. The Trabzon local police intelligence chief who was implicated in the murder got a promotion and was posted to Ankara police intelligence headquarters.
Unfortunately, the Hrant murder is not the sole such case... There are several other youngsters behind bars who pulled the trigger or slaughtered people mercilessly on orders of some “elder brothers” and somehow all those “elder brothers” are still free. Furthermore, no one has any idea who indeed instructed the “elder brothers” either... The Trabzon priest killing, the Malatya slaughter, attacks on non-Muslims elsewhere...
And, we call this country a state adhering to the supremacy of law! How it happens that some people are more equal than others in front of the law? Or, how it happens that law cannot touch some dark figures orchestrating such crimes? Worst, we are having fears that there are elements in the state abetting such criminals.
A judicial memorandum!
Is it not unfortunate that neither the government, nor the police and the judiciary are fulfilling their fundamental duties of ensuring the right to live and netting the criminals and the masterminds of Islamofascist crime in this country? Is it not a must to prevent such things happening in this country again?
The government is not acting on the contentious Article 301... Now it is telling Europeans that within the next five-six weeks it will legislate an amendment to it. The draft that we have seen is not a reform at all, but an act aimed at deception or an effort to pretend as if it is doing something but indeed doing nothing. Instead, the government has rehashed a discussion on the Islamic headgear.
The judiciary, rather than investigating Islamofascist crime, on the other hand, did not waste any time and issued Thursday what we consider a “judicial memorandum” and issued a veiled threat to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that if it insisted on legalizing wearing of the turban in universities and government offices it might face a closure case in the Constitutional Court....
The warning issued by the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals indeed went far further than a classical criticism against some anti-secular activity, but stressed that it was the responsibility of the political parties to abide with the fundamental principles enshrined in the Constitution – meaning the founding principles of the republic headed by secularism – and that parties would be held responsible for statements and actions against those values...
Proposals by the parties, the warning said, must comply with the Constitution and the laws of the country...
Furthermore, the judicial memorandum stressed that nothing could be undertaken by the political parties and governments in violation of the first four articles of the Constitution – the articles that define the Turkish republic as a democratic, secular state abiding with the principle of supremacy of law and whose capital is Ankara.
The statement, on the other hand, was not in response to an appeal to the Court of Appeals, but one the chief prosecutor deemed necessary to issue.
Let's hope that this will not set a precedent for similar memorandums by the judiciary.
Atalay Admits Dink Murder Damaged Turkey's Image
The New Anatolian / Ankara 18 January 2008
All materials and evidence on Hrant Dink's murder were handed over to the judicial authorities, Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay told a parliamentary hearings.
"Those who are concerned can appeal to the court. Our duty is to do everything in our power to expose the crime," he said. "Dink's murder caused much pain and damaged Turkey's image."
"Administrative inspectors were ordered to study all data referring to the murder. You can be confident that if new facts emerge we will take proper measures," Atalay said.
Agos bilingual newspaper editor Hrant Dink was gunned down at his Istanbul office by ultranationalist Ogun Samast on January 19, 2007. Samast and other 18 suspects in the murder first stood trial on 2 July 2006. The next court session is scheduled for February 2, 2008.
Friends of Dink will remember the slain journalist in a solemn ceremony at the spot where he was gunned down in Istanbul.
Pro-Armenian Scholar Blames 'Deep State' For Dink's Murder
January 19, 2008 Ümit Enginsoy Washington - Turkish Daily News
Turkey's atmosphere of intolerance is to blame for the murder of Hrant Dink a Turkish academic in the United States, who also spoke in Washington about Turkish-Armenian relations, said Thursday.
Turkey's “deep state” is guilty of masterminding last year's killing of Dink, a prominent Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor, said Taner Akçam, a Turkish academic backing Armenian “genocide” claims.
This “deep state” is an underground coalition of part of the security forces and unelected bureaucrats determined to impede Turkey's democratization, Akçam, who is a former left-wing militant and now a visiting associate professor of history at the University of Minnesota, said at a news conference here.
Dink, editor of the Armenian-Turkish Agos newspaper, was shot to death in front of his Istanbul office on Jan. 19, 2007. A nationalist youth was apprehended for the murder and has confessed to the crime. His trial is ongoing.
Dink's murder was much more complicated than an isolated crime and was a result of a “dangerous mindset” in Turkey, Akçam said.
"A climate has been created such that to attack and persecute an intellectual is considered a patriotic act,” he said, adding, “the media targets and attacks intellectuals and turns them into prey... the justice system punishes the intellectuals, and thugs are used as pawns to attack and kill the targeted intellectuals.”
What he called the atmosphere of intolerance in Turkey has worsened, rather than improved, in the year following Dink's murder, Akçam said.
'Repeal Article 301'
Akçam called on Turkey to abolish Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which criminalizes “insulting Turkishness,” under which Dink had been prosecuted.
Turkey does not have to formally label World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as “genocide” to resolve the dispute with Armenians, Akçam said, speaking at the Southeast Europe Project at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington-based research center. A Turkish move to accept "the crimes committed against Armenians" and apologize or make a related gesture would solve the problem, he said.
The Ottomans had decided to remove the Armenians from their homes as early as 1913, shortly after their defeat in the Balkan War, Akçam said, disputing the Turkish argument that an Armenian rebellion in cooperation with invading Russian forces in eastern Anatolia had prompted the Ottoman government to forcibly relocate Armenians. He gave no evidence, however, only saying he had proved it in his new book.
Some Armenians in Istanbul and western Anatolia had also been deported, Akçam added, but again he gave no evidence, only referring to his book.He supported Ankara's proposal for the creation of a joint Turkish-Armenian commission of historians to probe the genocide claim, adding that such a project would not work if Turkey did not set up diplomatic and other relations with Armenia.
Hrant Dink Still A Warning
It has been one year since Dink was murdered in front of Agos on Jan. 19, 2007. A year full of black pages. Then came the Malatya atrocity. Three missionaries were brutally killed.
A clergyman was shot in I.zmir and another attack on a different clergyman was prevented at the last moment. Unbelievable relations were revealed in the Malatya case. With an indictment that incriminated the victims and links with prosecutors and members of the special military forces, the scene in which the state and the streets gangs cooperated is really dreadful. This is how we approach the first anniversary of the Dink murder. We have repeated throughout the entire year that this case is a case of consciousness, morality and honor. We have also said that should this case not be clarified, then the gangs will continue exist, new “hero” candidates will appear, more murders will take place and the bloody hands will be unstoppable in their courage. Look at where we are today. Where will we be tomorrow?
18.01.2008 Ali Bayramoglu, Yeni Safak
Turkish Minorities Still Uneasy One Year After Dink’s Murder
One year after a prominent ethnic Armenian journalist was killed -- after becoming a target for describing the mass killings of Armenians as genocide -- the controversial law invoked to prosecute him for “insulting Turkishness” remains intact.
Hrant Dink was killed by a 17-year-old ultranationalist teenager on Jan. 19, 2007.
And despite Western European protests over the law in a country seeking to join the European Union, critics doubt that alleged collusion between state officials and the killers of Hrant Dink will be fully addressed in court. On Jan. 19, mourners plan to gather outside the Agos newspaper office at the spot where Dink was shot -- a somber anniversary likely to highlight Turkey’s uneasy relationship with its ethnic and religious minorities, which include at least 60,000 Armenian Christians in a mostly Muslim nation of more than 70 million.
The conflict has historical roots, with Turkey rejecting claims by many international authorities that the mass killing of Armenians early in the 20th century constituted genocide. Last year, Turkey indicated that it could drop its role as a supply route for US troops in Iraq when the US Congress seemed close to voting on a genocide resolution. The vote didn’t happen, but Turkish concerns about threats to its unity live on in the form of Article 301, a law that says it is a crime to insult Turkish identity. Dink was once prosecuted under the law, making him the target of condemnation by extreme nationalists, possibly including the gang accused of killing him.
A total of 19 suspects, including a teenage triggerman, are on trial in Dink’s death. Proceedings resume next month. But the newspaper editor’s family and former colleagues believe Turkish authorities are unlikely to prosecute any state officials who knew about the plot as it unfolded.
One suspect was allegedly a police informant. Soon after the murder, the governor and police chief of the city of Trabzon, the hometown of most of the suspects, were removed from office for allegedly failing to take measures to protect Dink. Some security officials who posed for photographs with the gunman as he held a Turkish flag were also dismissed.
“The judges are kind of protecting themselves,” said Etyen Mahçupyan, who replaced 52-year-old Dink as chief editor at the weekly Agos. “They are not really going after the facts. They are more inclined to take the safe approach.” The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed a thorough investigation and says it wants to reform Article 301 as part of its efforts to loosen curbs on free speech and gain entry into the European Union. However, Erdogan is viewed with suspicion by traditional elements within the state bureaucracy, which has links to the powerful military.
The struggle for control within Turkish society reached a peak last year in a disputed presidential election, but the Islamic-rooted government won a strong mandate in general elections in July. Even so, it seems reluctant to push hard in a country that was prone to political and social upheaval in past decades. “The government is going in zigzags,” Mahçupyan said in an interview in his office. “They take a step forward, and then they hesitate. They stop.”
He said Turkish society was gradually becoming more tolerant, despite its deep strain of extreme nationalism, noting that young ethnic Armenians feel more comfortable expressing their opinions through artwork and civic activities. But Mahçupyan said a law that would grant property rights to minorities must still be enacted.
“They need to bite the bullet and revoke Article 301,” said David Phillips, a friend of Dink and an advocate of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation. He also noted the need for reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, which share a closed border. In October, Dink’s son, Arat, received a one-year suspended sentence under Article 301 for publishing his father’s claims about the Armenian genocide. Supporters of the law include Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of a nationalist political party who says its amendment would weaken Turkish sovereignty.
Violent incidents continue to fuel concerns about Turkey’s minorities. In December, an ethnic Greek journalist who runs a minority newspaper was attacked and injured outside his office and an Italian Catholic priest was injured in a stabbing after Sunday Mass. In April, three Christians were killed at a publishing house that produces Bibles.
At the Agos newspaper, a policeman checks IDs in the dimly lit lobby and a new television camera monitors the landing and stairwell. Threats of violence have ebbed, for now. Staffers attribute that partly to Turkey’s escalated war against Kurdish rebels near the border with Iraq; Kurds are now the main target of nationalist ire, they say. A large color photograph of a robust Dink hangs in the Agos entrance. A widely published photograph at the time of his death showed the soles of his feet, his body face-down in the street, hastily covered in newspapers.
18.01.2008 Christopher Torchia, AP Istanbul
Hrant Dink By Andrew Finkel
I devoted my last column to the runners-up in a competition I run every year in my head. It gives me no pleasure to announce the winner.
Hrant Dink is no less deserving of the title Man of the Year for having survived less than three weeks of 2007. It was on Jan. 19 that a teenage boy, a mind blinded by pseudo-nationalist cant and stained with ignorance, shot Hrant down on the sidewalk outside the very newspaper which he edited.
I do not mean this to be a morbid or sentimental award, the laying of a wreath beside the memory of a colleague whom I liked and respected. Hrant dominated events in Turkey during 2007, not just because of the terrible manner of his death, but for the integrity with which he led his life. It was that life which inspired the dignified response of outrage at his assassination -- a massive protest which I believe helped change the ground rules of Turkish political life. We no longer look under stones, hoping to find a mature civil society independent of the state.
I heard the news of his death on my way back from the offices of this newspaper -- then newly launched. Within a short time I was standing across the street from where the shooting had taken place, reporting for CNN. Television news, between you and me, is not always the most satisfactory medium. It allows you to speak but not always report and I was rooted to the spot -- on a ventilation shaft for the Metro -- to allow the cameras the best vantage point. I became apprehensive as I saw a crowd gathering behind me. The offices of Agos newspaper are only a few blocks from the Sisli Criminal Court, where in previous months I had seen Hrant confront jeering demonstrators at his own trial and my first shocked reaction was that this, too, was a shameful assembly of bully-boy rightists come to gloat at his death. The reality gradually dawned how wrong I was and that these were “the others” -- people stricken with anger and grief, declaring that the attack had not been in their name but against everything they believed.
In the days that followed their numbers swelled; it felt as if an entire city turned out to accompany Hrant’s funeral cortege. It was a moment of crystal sanity. Many have written about the de-politicization of Turkey after the 1980 military coup and the get-rich-quick decades which followed. Others have complained about the shallowness of the Turkish press, the way it has herded public opinion down a narrow nationalist cul-de-sac. The solemn procession of ordinary citizens who marked Hrant’s passing was a rebuke to those who believed that Turkey could be so easily polarized and manipulated. The year 2007 was one of public activism -- people spoke out at what they perceived to be an erosion of Turkish secular traditions, they publicly mourned soldiers killed in conflict with the PKK, they rallied at election time to support the government. No matter the cause, these were exercises of freedom of which Hrant would have approved.
If Hrant managed to bring out the best in a country of which he was a fierce patriot, he also exposed a terrible nerve. The inner daemon which prompted him to speak out confronted the ghouls of intolerance, of authoritarianism, of self-righteousness and simply those who wanted both himself and the Armenian community in Turkey to remain silent. Like the teenage assassin who denied him life, there are those who still deny his humanity, who cry “We are not Hrant” and “I feel no empathy for anyone who does not mirror what I think myself to be.” Hrant was a threat in the same way that an innocent child threatens a sullied mind. Who was really responsible for his persecution, why is his son still being pursued in the courts, why is Turkey still unable to confront shameful things in its past? His life was spent asking big questions which go unanswered.
An Open Letter To Turkish And Armenian Intellectuals by Hovhannes Nikoghosyan*
A year has passed since we do not have Hrant Dink among us. Naturally, a one-year-term is a good standpoint to try to analyze what major changes we have in Turkey regarding “freedom of speech” issue, and also in the Turkish-Armenian relations to a certain extent. Unfortunately I did not know Hrant Dink in person, but the idea he has left for us is very much actual and just.
Being one of major and most important freedoms of all civil societies all over the world, “freedom of speech” is the one to be most of all pressured by Governments. During 2007, after Hrant Dink was slain, other Turkish intellectuals were deprived of this basic human right under the controversial 301 article of Turkish Penal Code. But now this article is being amended by Turkish legislature. According to the drafted law those who will disobey the “301” will be charged only in case the Justice ministry agrees with it. It is not difficult to imagine the sad consequences if a minister, judge or a prosecutor will be appointed to a position not being in a friendly atmosphere with free-thinking in Turkey.
I hope somebody will agree with me: no matter what laws exist in Penal Codes, it is more important how they are enforced and utilized. So, the main point is to enforce the right laws at right wrongdoing, if there is such.
We need the mentality of Turkish lawmakers and other authorities, including judicial ones, to change their mentality and not the law been amended, because only in this way we can guarantee the freedom of speech.
For us in Armenia and for Diaspora Armenians worldwide the 2007 showed that nor Armenians neither Turks are ready for open dialogue concerning mutual past. We could not move forward highly announced statements and assurances by state high officials. The most recent fact is that Turkish authorities and lawmakers did not accept the invitation to take part in Parliament hearings on Armenian-Turkish relations on December 19-20, 2007 in Yerevan.
Yes, today we should rather acknowledge that we are not ready to improve our relations at the moment and even after our recent mutual tragedy: murder of Hrant Dink.
But the thing that truly disturbs me today most of all: can we stop our relations from worsening? This is the very issue to work and think over seriously.
For instance, can we organize 2 bilateral conferences in 2008 – in Ankara and in Yerevan – to discuss openly all concerned issues in bilateral agenda? Do we want this? And do we need this? Hope somebody will answer positively.
I deeply believe we need to stop making useless political statements and stop lying to international community. Let us think a bit seriously. What can be done to stop worsening our existing ties and demonizing one another?
*The author is Managing Editor of “Actual Policy” Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
"I Am The One Who Understands His Nation’s Pains And Bears That Burden" Hrant Dink Interview By Alin Ozinian
It was in the middle of October, 2006. We arranged to meet with Hrant Dink at his office in the “Agos” newspaper. I have taken interviews on the theme “Mental and spiritual atmosphere in Turkey about the Armenian Problem” with 30 Turkish academicians, journalists, politicians and intellectuals. Hrant got me acquainted with many of them. Now it was his turn to answer the questions.
It was warm atmosphere at the office and we easily started the talk. Sometimes we switched off the recorder during the friendly talk and he expressed his worries. I did not take them serious but the stupid scenery comes true just two months later. After the interview both of us was sure we did a real contribution for the existing situation: Me with my questions and he with his responds. We were quite happy.
Last time I talk to Hrant on 16 January 2007 when I was in Yerevan. I wanted some points of view to realize the project into a book. The talk was short. He said to me, “Come to Istanbul, we will talk face to face”. I went to Istanbul for many times after our talk but we never talked face to face.
- Will you tell me how, why and whose idea was to found the “Agos”?
- The foundation of the newspaper was a difficult task as it was decided to publish the “Agos” according to the needs of Turkey’s Armenian community. But the “Agos” was published contrary to some negative reactions. Up to then some questions were raised: it was not enough in the community to publish only in Armenian, as the majority of people came from Anatolia and they were Turkish speaking. There was a serious lack of information in the community as people can not read the Armenian press. And then enclosed society itself causes difficulties, it needed to get accustomed to. We had to struggle. The Turkish society accepted the Armenian community in other way. The word Armenian was considered to be an abuse; the Turks connected the Armenians with the Kurdish Worker Party (PKK) or with ASALA. There was a great anxiety and trouble in the community when the Karabagh problem was discussed in Turkey.
We lived like a worm. We heard what was on TV but could do nothing. We apposed, cried, told that all these were lie but could not speak loudly. We need to break the wall, it was necessary. One day the Patriarch Ghazanchyan invited us and told that there was a photo of an Armenian priest and Abdullah Odjalan in the “Sabah” newspaper and there was written under the photo “Here is the fact of Armenian and PKK collaboration”. Then His Holiness stated that it was a lie, the priest was not an Armenian. He asked me and my friends who were with me at that time what we thought about all that. I expressed my point of view and suggested that it’ll be meaningful if we invite a press- conference. It was a brave action, all the local and international press came and it was a great success. The impression was indescribable. After the meeting I suggested that it was nonsense to invite a conference on every occasion, we had to take definite steps. And I suggested publishing a newspaper.
We were running it with my friends. Later they left and I was the one to run it. By using the newspaper we also wanted to create an intellectual cuisine youth to grow sociologists and intellectuals.
- What problems did you come across during foundation and after it?
- The first problem was to subdue the community conservatism. We felt anti-sympathy by local Armenian press. There were people who thought we would work for months or in the best case for a year but it is 10 years that we have been working.
Some people thought it was a regress to be published in Turkish. But we tried to do a good thing, by using the Turkish language for the community. I am sure they have already been persuaded.
- When you founded the newspaper did you think it would be better for Turks to read the press and get some news about the Armenian community?
- Our main objective for this society was to be a window to a large society. I think this is our success: the two societies started to penetrate into each other.
We managed to discuss our own problems equal to Turkey’s problems. We think that only through Turkey’s democratization it was possible to solve the problems. Soon the community also started to show interest towards the main problems of society. The Armenian society together with the “Agos” struggled braver for its identity; felt the patronage started not to fear.
- Will you tell about the peculiarities of being an editor, publishing a newspaper especially for a minority in Turkey? Please introduce us your viewpoints on freedom of the press in Turkey.
- There is no special difficulty in publishing a newspaper for the minority. If you are not an editor with principle, if you do not have a certain political motivate, if you are interested more often in illustrated news then you have no professional difficulties. But if you are a journalist of certain ideas, sure you will have difficulties.
Recently we have had some common difficulties connected with freedom of the press, in accordance with Turkey’s criminal new code and the Press law there is some control over us. We also suffered: the newspaper was confiscated for several times.
I think we get more than we deserve and the only reason is our attitude toward the Armenian problem. I am sure this is the reason but we have not repudiated yet, aside we will go on.
- Let’s talk on European Union role for Turkey. Is it necessary for Turkey to become a member of EU?
- This is an irrevocable process for Turkey. It is necessary to understand Turkey’s reason to enter EU it is not a simple desire. The real reason is the fear. It’s the reason why this process moves so slowly. Why Turkey fears? It is the fear of instability and fear is mutual. Because of this fear this process is continuing and there is no way to go back.
If military in Turkey definitely had been rejected entering EU, the process will not come to this level. If we do not become a member of EU, one day we will also have to leave the NATO. The process goes so slowly because of the reason that there is no great desire to become a member of EU. I do not think it will be possible to stop the process. We may slow it, sometimes freeze it, but can not cancel it.
If we observe the history of the state there are three important periods influencing into Turkey’s interact process. The first was Cold war period when the country had some problems with leftist movements and abolished them. The second period was when clerical forces came into office in Iran. Islamists of Turkey demanded their participation in country’s administration and today they came into power. The third period is EU membership process and so far nothing had influenced Turkey so much. The process left no group homogeneous in Turkey. Today, there are powers among soldiers, bureaucrats, academicians and media who speak against EU.
- What is the greatest problem in the process of Turkey’s Europeanization and modernization?
- Opposing reactions coming from the lower class by the upper class. The laws of the upper class. Тhese are the first problems. The second great obstacle is fear of the upper class. Turkey occupies less area unlike the Ottoman Empire, this is the reason of not to lose more. This can be also called “a syndrome of Sevres”. Every change causes fear and doubt in Turkey. This is the reason why the changes in Turkey moves so slowly.
Turkey is both a crossroad and a border between West and East. I think Malatia is the border in Turkey. East and West of Malatia are quite different worlds.
In effect Turkey is a country of strategic importance but depends at the same time on East and West. Depending on the situation it will be injustice to wait quick adaptation from Turkey. One of the greatest reasons that changes do not occur easily is the new building built in Turkey which is the upper identity created and was obliged to whole society. That’s why they are afraid to get to know their real history. Every other historic comment has an effect of an earthquake for the identity. This earthquake is also a threat for Europe. The identity may pull down but over whom this is uncertain...
- May reformations take place in the sphere of democracy and human rights in the process of corresponding EU demands?
- I have no doubt but it is a difficult process. Laws may be passed but while putting them into forces there will be opponents...
Change of thinking is necessary, democracy will sufficiently change the way of thinking. The more the way of thinking is changed the quicker democratization will be.
- However trouble of people in some situations is observable, For instance, freedom of thought is considered to be high treason (Turkey’s criminal code, article 301), and freedom of religion, conscience (head scarf) may be accepted as regress. What is the reason? In effect are people ready for those reformas?
- Today people are speaking about the raise of the nationalism but I do not believe that nationalism increases but it is being increased by some people.
It became more obvious in the last two years. Those people do their best to model coming elections in Turkey.
They make plans to throw down the party “Justice and Development”. However they have no reason neither economic, nor democratic. We are only to inspire nationalists and it is done everywhere at funerals of martyrs, against EU or while welcoming the Pope.
I think the whole pain of those responses is the coming elections. They do not want to give sits to the Islamists in the government. We will see what will happen…
- Do you agree that there are differences in Turkey based on ethnic roots? Can you speak about reasons provoking it and consequences following it?
- As for ethnic roots, no doubt there are various attitudes. A simple example, today not only Muslims but also Christians, Armenians should have been in main headquarters, military powers, police, various official government offices and ministries. The main reason provoking it is security. Turkey has evaluated the contest of minorities in conception and takes it as a matter of security.
I say facts, there are mathematical data. Out of 300000 Armenians at the Lausanne period today 60000 is left and the Turkish population is increased from 13 million up to 70 million. When one increases how it happens that the other is decreased? It was necessary to decrease the number of minorities.
Some crucial points appeared, for instance the law for property tax, September 6, 1955 but what happened is already past. Besides, the Armenians for being safe and sound left Turkey because of economic and moral problems.
There is one more fact as well. You will not find anything connected with minorities especially the Armenians in any textbooks. There are facts on minorities only in the textbook of the National Security. In the elementary school there is not even a sentence like “Ali gives the ball to Hakob”; Ali will always give it to Veli. When we observe them we are nowhere.
Only in the textbooks of National Security you may find the word “Armenians” which will take place in the unit of unprofitable groups which play bad tricks with Turkey.
- How can you estimate relationship between Turkey and Armenia?
- We may speak about non-existing relationships. I do not see any relationship after Armenia gained its independence. First the USA attempted to make some steps then EU but in vain. Desire exists but it is very weak.
Turkey has not yet got accustomed to the thought that Armenia is an independent country in the Caucasus. There is a state, a neighbor, Turkey should comprehend this and start relationship.
When state policy fails public policy takes its place. There are some attempts to establish non-governmental relationship from to sides, but they are very weak, very few.
- What do you think the 1915 events should be called?
- I have no doubt. It was genocide.
- What do you think of diplomatic relations without preconditions suggested by Armenia and the committee of historians proposed by Turkey?
- I do not think Turkey’s attitude an honest one. The Armenian side is more sincerely.
- Why? Do you have any doubts that the committee of historians will be of any use?
- Yes, everybody thinks that the committee of historians will be of no use. Policy like always will go on without relations and results. This is the way which Turkey loves: no relations. I think Azerbaijan also obliges such policy to Turkey. The Armenian side is more reasonable and desirous.
- What is your opinion about the third state to interfere the problem and bills on genocide accepted in parliaments?
- My point of view in these bills may be considered a very romantic one, but I have not denied it. I think also the world like Turkey takes double-faced position in the process of accepting the Armenian genocide. The world is aware of the reality for a long time; they had their role and influence on those times. Nowadays France accepts it after decades. It is not like moral attitude, because the case is used as trump card in relations with Turkey. It is very painful for me as an Armenian when my tragedy is used as political trump card on international arenas. I can not stand it, I oppose against it. I am indifferent towards third states. I think the problem should be solved between Turkey and Armenia. But it should be solved not through punishing bills but morality. We do not need punishing bills in morality, our conscience is enough.
I believe that these two states may overcome but I do not want to predict anything.
- Do you divide Armenians between those who live in Armenia, in abroad and in Turkey, while speaking about the Armenian question?
- Not only in connection with that matter but in general I think so. Turkey is a far and irresistible state for Diaspora but for Armenia it is a neighboring state and keeps Armenia independence. For the Armenians living in Turkey, Turkey is their motherland. Though I say such things I do not want to separate Armenians and accept the Turkish point of view.
Turkey should establish good relations with every state. But these two states should come into conclusion and solve the problem. I do not think that Armenians living in Turkey must be involved in the talks as they are citizens of Turkey.
- As a citizen of Turkey are you worried about the Armenian-Turkish closed border? What is your estimation on Turkey’s policy towards Armenia that accepts Azerbaijan’s problems as its own, and sets preconditions in the relations with Armenia?
- During the Demirel’s government good relations were established between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Turkey attempts to make relations with Armenia taking into account the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. Frankly saying Turkey does not want to annoy Azerbaijan negotiating with Armenia. Azerbaijan does not allow Turkey to negotiate with Armenia using the Karabagh problem.
Any nationalistic power will solve this problem in anti-Azerbaijani way. Turkey also takes this side and does not consider Armenia as its neighboring country.
First Turkey exterminated the Armenian question, but as Armenia gained its independence the question again resurrected. Turkey suddenly saw a phantom and the same question raised how to do with Armenia. Turkey was in a desperate situation but the Karabagh problem emerged and clung to it with its four hands, rejoiced it and ran for help. Turkey thought that it would take a long time. This is the continuation of policy...
- According to you is the Republic of Turkey the continuer of the Ottoman Empire in the history...
- I do not expect apology or responsibility from anybody. I am the one who understands his nation’s pains and bears that burden. I do not think of financial compensation or returning of lands. For me it is important to repair relations broken in the past, to know who and what circumstances played role. European states may also have a positive effect, compensate their guilt and try to soften the disagreement founding economical and cultural advantageous platforms to make the two states become closer.
- May we state the role of the “Ittihat ve Terraki” is great in this matter?
- Not only one group is in charge, there were assistants who promoted and closed their eyes on it. Today, also existing people who are reluctant that reality may come into world.
If you seek responsibility there are many of them, each one has its share but I am not the one to remind of this. Presumably it sounds very romantic but every one should admit his guilt.
- Let’s try to analyze what are the main problems of the two states?
-There are disappointments, unwillingness; enmity and fear…
Today some new fears exist. The Armenians also fear we need to pay attention to them. The Armenians are subdued between Azerbaijan and Turkey. There are two states suppressing from right and left. Fear and insecurity is an important handicap it needs to be inoculated.
We need to explain fairly that Turkey may be a friend of Armenia. The Armenian side should be reasonable, should see the present situation. There is an independent Armenia with two states around carrying out an embargo. Armenia may relax only in the south but there is mullah administration which is not clear how long it may go on.
Diaspora should ponder on this. Armenia should settle good relations with its neighbors and to become a member of EU. If Armenia were a member of EU today Turkey will subject to embargo not Armenia but Europe.
Instead of passing bill in parliaments of different states it will be better for Diaspora to persuade those states to accept Armenia into EU. They should be reminded of their history, responsibilities as they have their share of guilt in today’s situation. Diaspora at least should be able to say to carry out that. This is my formula to go ahead and we should demand from the Europeans for the steps taken in the past.
Alin Ozinian Istanbul, Oct 2006
© Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute
Hrant Dink: Memory And Hope By Fatma Müge Göçek
17 - 01 - 2008
A year has gone by since you were murdered, Hrant, and the newspaper announcing your assassination is still on my desk. I decided to put it away only on the day that justice on your case is delivered. That still has not happened; so it remains.
We in Turkey and the world still await the day of reckoning. The Turkish state still seems determined to obfuscate the delivery of that justice; it still wants to protect those within who turned you into a target; it still believes that the interests of the state should come before the rights of the citizens; it still awards more respect to immoral agents of power and violence than to moral individuals who seek and deserve justice. So the newspaper is still on my desk.
The year since your murder has been filled with grief, pain and shame. Grief from your loss; pain that they targeted especially you among all of us because you were the minority member, the Armenian, and still had so much to offer everyone, enemies as well as friends; and shame that though we all had to fight against prejudice and discrimination, we members of the majority (the "white Turks") should have been with you in the frontline taking them on. In the end you shamed us in life and in death too.
I think your friend Etyen Mahcupyan captured it best when he said at your memorial in Canada: "Hrant was so genuine that he put us all to shame, and that is why his enemies could not tolerate him." I too believe that indeed was the case: among all of us, you truly were the only real Anatolian. For you were the one passionately in love with the land, with the soil itself. You still seemed viscerally connected to it in a way we did not seem to be: whenever you were away from it, you constantly talked (more than any of us) about missing it; you were always singing the songs, talking about the food, and reciting the poetry as if to constantly celebrate its existence, as if to remind and convince yourself that it was still there, that you were grateful for it in spite of all that had happened to you all in the past.
I thought that because of that awful past you might mention it less, love it less; but it was the opposite. Then, of course, you kept saying that the water would always seek the crack in the soil, and all the soil the Armenians wanted from the Turkish state was enough to be buried under. After all your yearning love, that indeed is exactly where you ended up.
Yet you were so vibrant that it is still easy a year later to construct conversations with you in my mind's eye. After all, one does not really need to articulate the response other than to think about positive energy, conceptualise things constructively, move them forward - and there is Hrant's reply for you...
It is no wonder that so many centres and activities in Turkey and around the globe have taken root around your name; even the Turkish and the Armenian studies associations in the United States shockingly came together for the first time ever at the annual Middle East Studies Association meeting in Canada and held a joint memorial panel in your honour (and deciding to boot to hold such joint panels in the future). All this is undoubtedly thanks to the way that your work and example have projected their positive energy around the world. This is just the beginning, I am told; but did it have to be at such a cost?
What now to do about what Turks' call the derin devlet - the deep, dark state? That awful, spineless government refusing to take action? The shame they all bring upon us Turkish citizens by not letting or enabling this murder case to be solved? "Come on, Müge", you would probably say, "give them time and they will."
Yes, Hrant would know, being the sage he was, that his murder case would be solved eventually, just as he would be certain that one day the nightmare in Turkey - of the lack of accountability and transparency, of the obfuscation of justice, and of the abrogation of freedom of thought - will disappear; so that Turkey will finally become a country where everyone lives happily as equals, as true genuine Anatolians like Hrant, with Hrant.
That dream, Hrant's dream, lives on because Hrant taught us to dream along with him before he was so unjustly murdered by forces that are still protected by the state. Yet dreams like his, like ours, do not die, ever. And hopes in such dreams last much longer than fear instilled through murders. Until then, the newspaper remains on my desk.