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Turkey is Typing…the Death of Hrant Dink

While normally this column focuses on what only Turkish bloggers are saying, sometimes events happen that warrant the voices of not only Turkish points-of-views but others as well. The Death of Hrant Dink is one of those moments.

As a bit of background- Hrant Dink was a Turkish-Armenian journalist and editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos. Convicted in 2005 of “insulting Turkishness”, Dink has been seen as the champion of the Armenian cause in Turkey. He was gunned down in Istanbul, in broad daylight on January 19th. According to news reports, a suspect in the shooting have been detained, but speculation on who is really to blame for this political assassination continues.

“We are all Armenians, We are all Hrant Dink.”

To much surprise (which I will show in a few more paragraphs) citizens of Turkey took to the streets chanting “We are all Armenians, We are all Hrant Dink”. Erkan's Field Diary reports of widespread Turkish condemnation of the murder and also points out that Dink is the 62nd Turkish journalist that has been assassinated since the founding of the Republic of Turkey. Metroblogging Istanbul has photos of the protests.

The Infidel writes:

Hrant Dink was murdered in a heinous and cowardly way, most likely, by some brainless and lost ultra-nationalist Turkish young man, who I hope will be brought to justice as soon as possible. I am deeply saddened by Hrant's death because I believe that he had good intentions for Turkey and the Turkish people. Although I don't agree with everything he said and wrote, it is clear that he was a peaceful activist voicing his norm-opposing views to raise awareness, which is the bread and butter of any democracy. No human being should be persecuted for his/her opinions in any country, but especially in Turkey.

James in Turkey expresses surprise and anger over the shooting:

I am angry. I am angry because there are people out there who seem to think it is perfectly justified to kill a man who speaks contrary views. I have a perfectly clear idea of who I think is responsible, but there is little use in churning out conspiracy theories now. Suffice to point out that it was in a crowded street, on a busy morning. This was no impulsive killing.

Spooky Sense by Garfucious writes a letter to Dink stating: “sorry, hrant dink. not only have they killed you, they've also choked your voice.”

Talk Turkey urges Turkey to use this assassination as a beginning point for real discussion to take place about the Armenian Genocide to better Turkey's chances of getting in the EU:

I am sick and tired of the ‘business as usual’ attitude shown by Turks and the Turkish government up to now and extending even beyond this latest assassination to silence the voices of reason. Wake up Turks in Turkey and abroad! And prepare to not only ‘debate’ this issue (but act on it as well,) of Turkey's greatest taboo, unilaterally if need be. But settle this once and for all.

Most Turkish blogs choose to show they shock and remorse by placing simple messages of solidarity and obituaries on their sites, such as Mavi Boncuk, the White Path, and Amerikan Turk.

Who Does This Belong To?

The death of Hrant Dink is not just a Turkish issue, but one of concern to many. Michael Levy writing for the Brittanica.com blog sprouts an excellent comment discussion between Turkish and Armenian bloggers with his post:

Though it’s probably asking too much, hopefully Dink’s death will cause a reexamination of the Turkish constitution’s Article 301, which makes it illegal to “denigrate Turkishness,” and the treatment of individuals who hold views that run counter to those of the majority of Turks, and lead to a real debate whereby people who hold such contrarian views–not only in Turkey but elsewhere–can make their claims without fear of prison time or death threats.

Robert Fisk from the Independent called Dink the 1,500,001st victim of the Armenian genocide. iArarat, an Armenian blog, described the situation thus:

The murder of Hrant Dink has shocked many. It did not come however as a surprise to many of us who have been closely following political and social developments in Turkey. To many of us the hand that pulled the trigger ending Hrant’s precious life is the same hand that signed the orders to put Armenians of the Ottoman Empire to death en masse. It is a metaphysical continuity, a logical outcome of an ideology that resists tolerance and bona fide towards the other, the outsider, the gavur, the Armenian. And never mind the that the murdered is an Armenian, the political opportunists in Turkey and their hired pens in the Turkish media were quick to capitalize on the tragedy of Hrant’s murder and proclaim that the murder was aimed at the identity of the Turks, their international image and prestige.

The Blogian writes about how Turkey is solely to blame for the assassination while Blogrel (another pro-Armenian blog) only speculates:

It would be interesting to find out if this teen acted alone or had ties to a group. I doubt we will ever know the authentic truth.

It’s been a very difficult news event for me to follow and reflect upon. From what I can gather, this man was very much loved and respected by not only community ethnic Armenians but by the activist/progressive Turkish community.

Blogrel further speculates:

Whilst this is a tragedy, and a great, great loss. I wonder if there are some people who may seek to use this event as both publicity for the Armenian Genocide ( lets face it, it has been on major news screens today) , and also a chance to insult Turkey. I worry that statements like that of Tigran Torosyan do nothing but agitate an already tense situation. It is naieve to consider that the assassination of Hrant Dink should make Turkey not “even dream” of European Union entry. It is also a bad reflection on the Armenian official position – and I am waiting to hear a comment that suggests this is some kind of Armenian perpertration. It is really time for our Armenian politicians to think carefully about the way they react to this murder.

The best source for information on vigils and reactions to the death of Hrant Dink in Armenia is provided by OneWorld Multimedia. The most hopeful post about the shooting and what it's future implications could be comes from Neweurasia “Hrant Dink- Bringing Armenians and Turks together?” It is an excellent question, one which I hope will be answered sooner rather than later.

40 comments

  • I think if we allowed the Turks and the Armenians (without the politicians, and political lobbyists,) create the right referendum for dealing with the issues between the Turks and the Armenians, I am sure that they can come up with an honoroble and face saving solution(s) for both parties in the interest of future generations of both parties. And I for one am ready to discuss what needs to happen going forward and not rehash old memories and stories of what went wrong. Let’s discuss what’s needed and how can we get there. I honestly believe there are binds that hold us together greater than any that separate us. This must be proven in civility and humility, followed by acceptance and resolution. The ‘hate’ machinists will probably be made obsolete and therefore do not want this to take place but we must take actions to push for reform and dialogue both of our representatives but more importantly ourselves as individuals.

  • dogan

    to all parties around the HATE THE OTHER issue,

    Please read the articles by HRANT DINK on his newspaper AGOS on the subject of ARMENIAN IDENTITY. There are 8 articles. You can find it on http://www.agos.com.tr/ermenikimligi.html
    The articles are in TURKISH, I believe the newspaper can supply the english version if you need.

    Understanding his ideas would help all extremists in both sides, OF COURSE IF THEY CAN BE MATURE AND SMART ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND.
    It would help to see the other side of the medal.

  • Bolsa Hye says: “This law is used to breed ethnic hatred against minorities in Turkey. There is not one shadow of doubt about that.”

    I beg to differ. It’s undeniable that it serves a purpose, but breeding ethnic hatred is not one of them. What is regrettable is the term used to decribe what it’s violators are accused of, because it really leads people into the weeds: “insulting Turkishness”… I believe a more fitting term for Article 301 defendants might be: “Inciting rebellion”. In my view, Article 301 serves to keep certain radical elements from clashing with other more benign elements. Erasing it will cause the majority of Turks (nationalists) to clash violently with “hyphenated-Turks”. Keeping the minority in check keeps the majority from assaulting the other, by way of deterring provocation. Do you deny that this is possible? Is it so far fetched that at present, Article 301 is necessary? Most seem to be too myopic to understand that Article 301 didn’t appear out of thin air, that it was created by lawmakers.. who were elected as democratically as you can presently find in the middle east. Does this explanation, right or wrong, mean that I believe it’s a good thing, however necessary? No, absolutely not. The fact that the majority of nationalist Turks are too immature or insecure to even fathom tolerating something spoken against the state, is not anything for Turks to be proud of. Hopefully, we’ll live to see the day when Turks do not feel threatened by a difference in thinking, and a day when hyphenated-Turks refrain from deliberate provocation.

    Bolsa Hye says: “Yet you continue to defend it; not only that, but at a time like this when the Armenian and Turkish people have a real chance to show solidarity and build bridges, you continue to pepper your responses with information designed to incite hatred between our peoples.”

    I am not defending it, I am giving an explanation for it’s existence which I believe has some merit. It’s okay if everyone reading this disagrees with me, really. Furthermore, I am not inciting hatred.. simply answering your previous remark about “how many more must die?…”

    Yes Article 301 MUST GO.. one day, when the majority is ready, willing and able to bear the tsunami of thinking which is completely incompatible with what they have been taught from birth. Maybe the many nationalist Greeks and Armenians I’ve encountered are right.. Turks are just a bunch of barbaric mongol savages, not yet ready to join the civilized world..

    How’s that for a “wacky rant” from left field??

  • Bolsa Hye

    I’ll have to read your post two or three more times before I understand it, but I have a feeling that somehow we are in agreement on this 301 thing.

    By the way, couldn’t the “provocations” caused by hyphenated Turks (again seems very racist for you to generalize like this as if they are the only ones “provocating”) just as easily be addressed with current laws that are directed to real crimes, not thought crimes? I’m assuming it’s still illegal to conspire to commit a murder, or a bombing, for example. So I guess I still don’t get why we need 301, but I’ll read your post again to try to figure it out.

  • I have published an article re Hrant Dink. Please visit above mentioned web site to know more about Mr. Dink.
    Mr. Dink visited Glendale, CA. on November 2006 and gave a very interesting speech about democracy and its development in Turkey.He was a very resourceful penman and advocate of peaceful solution for Armenian Genocide.How long should we wait for another Dink or should not?

  • Kafr

    From what I’ve seen, I do not think the death of Hrant Dink was a point of much sadness for the majority of Turks. These people who marched in protest to his death were the minority in Turkey. That is secular minded intellectuals primarily made up of those of Armenian and Kurdish ethnicity. Those majority of Turks seem, especially since the Invasion of Iraq by the United States, to reject Western values (even though most nationalist Turks can not seem to define exactly what that means). The E.U. should demand that Turkey put to a vote whether they wish to reject multi-culturalism. If so, then Germany and all of the EU should vote to follow suit and pass extremely strict laws on Turkish immigration. It is hypocritical in the extreme to demand that nations like Germany tolerate Turkish culture and lack of willingness to assimilate into German culture, while at the same time refusing to do the same themselves in their homeland.

  • kafr: you should look up the meaning of assimilation and integration to see if the invasion of iraq by the U.S. represents the whole of Western values. Or does the West have a problem with such an invasion? Which West are we alluding to?

    Or that a demand is made upon Germany to ‘tolerate’ Turkish culture?? I thought toleration was in the makeup of the Germans. Why does it need to be limited to Turks alone? Can they or shouldn’t they also tolerate the Kurds, or the Armenians, or the Greeks, or the Jews amongst them? And I think the German soccer coaches who frequent the Turkish football league in musical chairs fashion seem to think they would rather call Turkey their second homeland may disagree with your assessment as insinuated by the last part of your last sentence. Facts anyone?

  • Bolsa Hye

    I’m worried that this is going to turn into a boomerang that causes a great deal of harm to the minorities, particularly Armenian minorities, in Turkey.

  • the powers of positive thinking bolsa hye. you gotta believe. are you always this optimist?

  • Deborah Ann Dilley

    Just a question for you all, would you like me to do a follow-up article on this for the next installment?

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