Today marks a first, well for me at least! Today's article is written in direct response to your wishes, dear reader.
Last week, Turkey is Typing focuses on the Death of Hrant Dink by using both Turkish and Armenian sources, and sparked an avid debate on the comments section. Many questions were raised: is this the continuation of Turkish and Armenian animosity? Is Article 301 of the Turkish penal code to blame? Is it Turkish nationalism, ultra-nationalism? Or is it Muslim extremism? I personally doubt that an answer will ever be found, but I stand in awe of the healthy dialogue that this tragic event has given birth too.
Prior to his death, no one in the blogosphere was taking about Mr Dink. Now Technorati rates hundreds of blog posts devoted to this man.
Google News reports almost 3,000 news stories. And the controversy found in the blogs over this issue is just as strong as in the regular news media. For instance, the LA Times ran an editorial that sparked a grassroots letter campaign to the paper's editor. However, even with Post Global setting up a discussion board, the blogosphere is where the REAL discussion is at. I will cover Hrant Dink's funeral and commentaries from the Turks, the Armenians, and a few others; and I invite you all to weigh in on the discussion here.
The Funeral and the Turkish Blogs
Thousands of mourners took to the streets for the funeral of Hrant Dink last Tuesday. Metroblogging Istanbul has photographs of the crowds, as well as the Armenian blogs iArarat and OneWorld Multimedia.
One of the most disturbing things for several Turkish bloggers was the absence of Turkish government officials at the funeral itself.
The Infidel wrote:
This was it. The funeral of Hrant Dink, a kind and loving family man who stood taller amongst giants than most others in his profession, was attended by tens of thousands of people. And the Turkish leadership missed a true opportunity to show the world that politics can be put aside. Erdogan did not attend “due to his pre-determined program that included hosting Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi”…. That's a bunch of bullshit. How about you take Prodi with you, who I'm sure would not have minded Hrant_funeral5 seeing you show your solidarity? Even an appearance of five minutes would have proven this, for God's sake.
From Talk Turkey:
Today was a historic day in Turkey. A prominent Turkish-Armenian shot to death united the voices of reason during the funeral procession in Istanbul. The people spoke through their silent march down the streets. Thousands of Muslims, Christians, Turks, Armenians, Kurds, and Greeks attended the walk of pride to show the shameless few loudmouths a thing or two about resolve and reconciliation.
However, the leaders of the country were exempt from this happy gathering. They missed another grand opportunity to show the world how real they are. Instead they chose to remain politicians for the day. Coward politicians hoping to cash in on the ‘nationalistic’ wave of votes they chose to sell out for. Or even worse they really did not want to be there out of personal ideals too distant for the display of affection. Too hard to explain, too difficult to understand.
Do you feel let down
because I do. By the Government of my country especially. Not because I think they should have been represented at Dinks funeral although I believe their presence would have sent a more powerful message than all the cheap and meaningless words they spouted but because of the lack of accountability and responsibility. After all the words spoken this was followed up by no actions.
Turkish Torque points out another issue of contention from the funeral:
Did you know that there is a very specific manner in which a Muslim is supposed to mourn after another Muslim versus a non-Muslim?
If a Muslim is mourning after another Muslim, he is supposed to say (in Turkish) “Allah rahmet etsin,” or, “May God's grace be upon him.”
But if the deceased is a non-Muslim, then the tradition does not allow the mentioning of “God” and “grace.” Instead, the accepted formula is to simply say (in Turkish) “Topragi bol olsun,” or “May his soil be plenty.”
This distinction is sometimes lost even on some Turks, especially those from a younger generation or those who are not steeped in Islamic traditions.
The issue came to a head after many condolence statements appearing all over the Turkish media that wished “Allah rahmet eylesin” for the late Hrant Dink.
The reaction was swift and strong. An indignant chorus of voices insisted Hrant should be accorded only a “Topragi bol olsun,” but definitely not “Allah rahmet eylesin” since he was not a Muslim. So unfortunately the controversy about Hrant Dink's identity (is he an “insider” or an “outsider”?) still continues even after his murder.
Many Turkish blogs expressed hope for the future while others mourned for their country. Ignore Me If You Can put it thus:
Is having an opinion in this country dangerous? Will anyone who thinks differently than certain individuals or officials be shot down? Hrant Dink tried all his life to build a bridge between two wounded nations, he never deserved what he got. All those who thrive and beg for peace are being forced into silence. Rest In Peace Hrant Dink.
A Spooky Sense by Garfucious offered the following:
in a sense, hrant dink was being prophet like, fearlessly pounding into our pathetically dwindling vocabulary that “different” is not necessarily “other”. because the poorer the vocabulary, the blunter the mind, the more primitive the thought process, we killed him, too, because we refused, chose not to understand. and no, we were not magnanimous enough to protect that we could not understand. we feared him for ignorance is also cowardice.
then we walked behind his coffin, letting out spiritual gases out of our conscience… we walked behind what put us to shame by dying because living and writing, he could not reach us.
the shameless shunned even the walk. there was a thankful absence of politicians. what few there were, were there apparently more for the protocol than the funeral. during his service hrant once more did a service to his countrymen, showed them how much better things can be without the state as we know it. even the security forces belonged to the people during the procession, not to the state.
so we laid hrant to rest. silent but still spreading meaning to life. we were ashamed of his death but we can't lay shame to rest…
funeral for Mr. Dink was held yesterday with an estimated number of more than 100 000 people attending. Even though i dont approve the very slogan “We are all Armenians”, i fully support the crowd who went there to ask for one simple thing: a better turkey with a more democratic governing.
Yesterday people of Turkey showed that they dont want any more assassinations, they dont want any black days. i just hope this wish will get true in the near future, which i dont feel very optimistic about it. Funeral also showed one more thing. People of Turkey is mature enough to accept everyone as a brother of soil no matter if they are Turkish, Kurdish, or Armenian ethnically. This is something all the turks tried to tell all the time with no one seeming to believe, but i think this incident clearly shows that turks dont see the matters from a racist point of view.
Others expressed more hope, like this from Turkey & My Foreign Perspective:
I believe it has shown that the people of Turkey want something different to come from Dink's death and lurking inside is the catalyst to bring about more positive changes in Turkey and shaping her society.
It may not be as bleak as some currently hail. Instead what has been revealed is that thousands took to the streets in Turkey to honor a man that since his earlier years has stood for freedom of press rights and speech in Turkey; but more so, they recognize that they deserve real answers about many pressing issues facing their community. It is the Turkish people who are beginning to stand up and speak out more for their own rights, and with it brings some dissension in their questions to the government, and sometimes, the dubious answers.
How many times was this man prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for allegedly insulting Turkishness (not a real word)? And, how many death threats did he receive and even wrote about, yet the government provided no protection to him. Who else has shared in his prosecution under this article that repeatedly in 2006 embarrassed Turkey? Oh, yes, Orhan Pamuk, a 2006 Nobel Prize Winner! Well, Turks are finally finding their voice and I applaud them for it!
And in a further vain of reconciliation between Turks and Armenians, this from Turkish Diary:
A very popular online networking site called Facebook has rivaling groups such as ‘Recognize the Armenian Genocide’ group and ‘The Armenian Genocide is a Huge Lie’ group. A much smaller group exists called ‘Peace for Armenia and Turkey.’ But its participants skyrocketed since the murder of Hrant Dink.
The Funeral and the Armenian Blogs
Sometimes someone can manage to do something much better than yourself, and in those instances it is always best to admit that. OneWorld Multimedia has done a phenomenal job covering the death of Hrant Dink, not only in a round-up of the Turkish blogs, but the Armenian blogs and giving coverage of the ceremonies in honor of Hrant Dink in Yerevan Armenia.
The Blogian has a translation of the eulogy given by Hrant Dink's wife at the funeral:
I am here today full of immense grief and dignity. We are all here today with our sorrow. This silence creates within us a sorrowful contentment.
Today we send off half of my soul, my beloved, the father of my children. We are going to actualize a march without any slogans and without any disrespect. Today we are going to generate immense sound through our silence.
While many Armenian blogs expressed joy over the show of Turkish solidarity during the funeral, there were still suspicions. From iArarat:
Only days after Hrant Dink’s funeral the reality seems to have set in in Turkey. While the funeral was filled with sympathizers who carried signs proclaiming “We are all Armenians” those who beg to differ are letting their voices be heard oh so soon.
Naturally I am a believer in the human goodness, but as it happens I am just as skeptical about human nature, reality being much more complex, than a simplified bifurcated whiteness and blackness. And if we are to believe in the new AP report about the mood on the Turkish street then my initial fears seem to have born out, only it will not command such extensive coverage as did Dink’s murder and funeral. Extraordinariness has a way of attracting cameras and TV crews that ordinariness lacks. It is extraordinary that a hundred thousand or more came out in support of Dink, it naturally made a good story. But how many of the same readers struck by the seeming rapprochement of the Armenian and Turkish communities will want to know about the real state of affairs after the dust has settled, or will even want to care? My guess is not many. How many of them will even remember this after a Turkish charm offensive?
Blogrel had this to say about the unification of relations between Turkey and Armenia:
At any rate, today, of all times, both sides have everything to gain: politically, economically and morally above all, from the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations. Armenia can once again ask for Turkey to lift the blocade, but do it with dignity – associating it with the life-cost of Hrant Dink, whearas Turkey can make a pretty face in front of the whole wide Europe by making the noble gesture and simultaneously solving a couple of other problems of its own, including that of economically developing its eastern regions and thus somewhat stabilizing the Kurdish situation on the mentioned area. And the fact is – when I concider the economic benefits that the open border can bring to thousands of Armenian and Turkish people in newly created jobs and gains resulting from reduced transportation costs of basic goods, I do not care anymore who gains what – for this is what Hrant Dink’s fight was all about – reestablishment of trust and relations between the people of these two countries. Face it – we are here, in this region, with this neighbor countries – and we have nowhere to go!
Cilicia has this to say about the Turkish treatment of Hrant Dink after his death:
How this relate to Hrant Dink is fascinating. In reading Turkish blogs and newspapers on the net, I keep seeing that the reason that Dink was revered in Turkey was because he took a “reasonable approach” on the Genocide. That, or course, it utterly false. Because the insinuation is that Hrant Dink wavered on the facts of the Genocide. In truth, Dink never questioned that there was an Armenian Genocide and certainly worked toward gaining recognition for it. It's what eventually got him killed. However, where most Turks are missing the point is that he was “reasonable” in how he did not accuse modern day Turks of doing the killings. And, that he was fairly comfortable in his status as a Turkish citizen and professed a great love for the country he lived in. Yet, it can be debated whether he was really that comfortable given his death threats and his recent essay on living like a “scared pidgeon”. The “pyschological torture”, as he put it may seem to refute whether he was really that comfortable. Lastly, he was “reasonable” in challenging the mindset of Diasporan Armenians, as well as Armenian citizens not to equate the Turks of today, with those of 1915. This, I believe, was his boldest act within his Armenian community. And I believe that it was this ideal that endeared him to Turks the most. Of at least, those who knew of him.
Hrant Dink in other blog forums
Cerebrosus World labeled Hrant Dink a victim of “Mind Terrorism”:
Intellectuals think to write, paint and compose to express what their internal ideas while mind terrorists reply them by sending bullets to their chests to shut their mouths and cut their hands. They can't understand that by their actions they turn their victims to heroes and immortalize their work. Hrant Dink assassinated by someone who shot him dead in front of his newspaper offices In a frequent scene happened to several intellectuals and writers all over the time since the time of the first philosophers since the execution of Socrates , Halage, the failure assassination of the Egyptian novelist Najeb Mahfoze and the assignation of Anna Politkovskaya, who reported the violations of the Russian army in Chechnya . Hrant dink was a controversial man in turkey in the last years. Who established an armeninian-turkish newspaper called Agos which was defending the rights of Armenians who live in turkey . He was an outspoken man who tried to remind the Turk by the massacres and deportations which their grandfather did to the Armenian people. Once he said “There are Turks who don't admit that their ancestors committed genocide. If you look at it though, they seem to be nice people… So why don't they accept it? Because they think that genocide is a bad thing which they would never want to commit, and because they can't believe their ancestors would do such a thing either” . Hrant dink wasn't an anti-nation Turkish. One of his beliefs that he often underlined the fact that a stronger Turkey would be achieved through the elimination of discrimination. He concentrated on the mismanagement of community institutions, tried to promote obtaining rights through legal means, and was always open to compromise, once noting, “After all, Turkey is very reluctant to concede rights to its majority as well.
Kurdish blogger Rasti writes about the lack of Turkish officals at the funeral:
Who had better things to do? Turkish president Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who doesn't “do” funerals on some kind of principle known only to him. Besides, he had better things to do with the Polish president and the Parliament speaker of Turkish-occupied Cyprus. Who else was missing? Parliament speaker Bulent Arinc, Prime Minister Erdogan, and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. Apparently they did send the Interior Minister, and that must have served a two-fold purpose: to make sure no more Deep State assassins showed up to further damage Turkey's international image by blowing away a few more “undesirables,” and to take notes on anyone displaying too much “brotherhood,” so that they could receive a discreet warning later. . . like a bullet in the mail from a non-existent return address.
It's kind of odd, isn't it? In the US, the Department of the Interior is in charge of stuff like national parks, water resources, rocks, trees; while in Turkey, the Interior Ministry is in charge of stuff like the state's assassins.
Where do we go from here?
I'm sure that I have left more questions than answers with this post….and that was my intention. Is the assassination of Hrant Dink enough to foster real dialogue within Turkey about the past? Or a dialogue between Turkey and Armenia? What are the implications of Turkish government officials being absent from the funeral? Do they represent the majority of popular thought in Turkey? Or is this the sign of a dangerous rise of nationalism in Turkey? These questions I leave to you.