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Turkey: Remembering Hrant Dink

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the murder of ethnic Armenian newspaper editor and journalist Hrant Dink in Istanbul, Turkey. Dink was shot outside the office of the Agos newspaper on 19 January 2007. A prolific advocate for civil, human and minority rights in Turkey, Dink was killed by 17-year-old Ogun Samast. His murder shocked the world and marked one of few times when Armenian, Turkish and other bloggers spoke about an event making headline news across the world with one voice.

A year on and the conversation in the blogosphere might be less, but many people the world over — and not least in Armenia and Turkey — remember Dink. A rare voice calling for reconciliation between Armenians and Turks, Dink's message and legacy is still remembered today. A week ago, Blogian posted information on Hrant Dink memorial events to be held the world over.

Internations Musings makes a short but to the point post consisting of just two photographs taken in Istanbul with the title “I believe darkness will one day reunite with light.” Rastî simply posts various quotes and photographs, including one from the Armenian Foreign Minister, Vartan Oskanian.

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 London, Unzipped posts photographs, a video and an account of the event held outside Westminster Abbey. The event was organized by the Armenian community in England, but was also attended by representatives of the Turkish and Kurdish communities as well as others. the blogger also posts a poem by Mikael Nalbandyan which was distributed to those in attendance.

When the God of Liberty
Formed of earth this mortal frame,
Breathed the breath of life in me,
And a spirit I became,

Wrapped within my swaddling bands,
Bound and fettered helplessly,*
I stretched forth my infant hands
To embrace sweet Liberty.

All night long, until the dawn,
In my cradle bound I lay;
And my sobbing's ceaseless moan
Drove my mother's sleep away.

As I begged her, weeping loud,
To unbind and set me free;
From that very day I vowed
I would love thee, Liberty!

Across the ocean in the United States, Verbal Privilege posts an entry on the eve of a similar event in New York. The blogger mentions one of the most alarming aspects of Dink's assassination — the growth of ultra-nationalism and the involvement of individuals within government or the military in Turkey.

The teenage boy who shot Dink in the head is on trial, as are some of the nationalist agitators who handed him the gun and sent him to Istanbul. But those higher-up who may have abetted the murder or covered up for fellow police continue to enjoy impunity, despite widespread evidence of tampering with the investigation.

The same theme was taken up by Blogian a week ago. The Armenian blogger posts photographs of children making ultra-nationalist signs and a cartoon by Turkish-Norwegian designer Firuz Kutal.

The murderer, the cartoon suggests, could have been any teenager brainwashed by ultra-nationalist adults. If you look closely, the murderer is making the “Grey Wolves sign” with his left hand, a gesture of fascist Turks who also use the sign in rallies denying the Armenian Genocide.

[…]

Once Turkish columnist Gökhan Özgün said a YouTube video honoring Hrant Dink’s assassination was worse than child pornography. At that time I was puzzled with Özgün’s words. But after seeing the photos above I think I know what he felt.

Movement for a New Renaissance analyzes the rise of ultra-nationalism in Turkey.

Ceremonies have been held in Istanbul to mark the first anniversary of Hrant Dink's murder. Dink was a courageous Turkish-Armenian journalist who worked tirelessly to bridge the immense gap between Turks and Armenians. His writings on the Armenian Genocide, which Turkey denies ever happened, outraged Turkish nationalists and lead to Dink's conviction under a controversial Turkish law which bans “insulting Turkishness.” In the end, Dink's efforts to bring the Turkish people to their senses on the issue of the Armenian Genocide lead to his being gunned down by a Turkish nationalist.

The murder of Dink revealed deep fissures within the Turkish people. On the one hand, his murder shocked and angered many Turks, who spontaneously rallied in his support, chanting, “We are all Armenians!” On the other hand, many extreme nationalists seemed delighted at his death; after the arrest of the killer, 17-year-old Ogun Samast, video emerged of smiling police officers celebrating with him and giving him a Turkish flag.

[…]

The murder of Dink and subsequent events reveal how serious a problem extreme nationalism is in Turkey. […] But the rise of moderate and rational Turkish voices, illustrated by the rallies in ink's support, are a cause for hope.

In a wider context, extreme nationalism is a virus that significantly holds back the human race. […] If we are to survive the 21st Century, we must learn to see ourselves as humans first and foremost, with all other affiliations being secondary and well down the list.

While not agreeing with much of what Hrant Dink said or believed in, PoliGazette also comments on the issue of ultra-nationalism, but says that Turkey has changed as a result.

Today marks the one year anniversary of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink’s violent death. He was killed by an extreme nationalist, who murdered this hero of free speech because of his opinion on the Armenian issue.

[…]

His opinions and outspokenness made him an enemy of Turkish nationalists and of the Armenian Diaspora, because he basically told them to get a life (he wasn’t fond of the diaspora, which he considered to be obsessed and extreme).

[…]

Hrant Dink’s death could have accomplished what the murderer wanted to accomplish – silence Dink and everyone else who agree with him – but instead, his crime had the opposite effect: yes, Dink was murdered and that was horrible, but it made Turks more determined to protect and expand the freedom of speech.

Many would disagree with the blogger on that last point, but the Turkish blogger at Erkan's Field Diary certainly symbolizes the shock and outrage which spread among many Turks by posting the text of an announcement detailing the memorial event held yesterday in Istanbul.

We, the citizens of this country,
do not want to get inured to
living in a dove's skittishness,
among unresolved assassinations.
As dignified crowds that do not breed
hatred from this inconceivable murder,
to illuminate the darkness
that creates assassins from babies,
to claim a bright future for our country,
to together carry the load of our deep grief,
as the victims and watchers of the Hrant Dink case […]

One of those attending the Istanbul rally was local Armenian blogger, The Armenian Observer, who posts an account of the day. Given that many Armenians here and in the Diaspora still do not quite comprehend Hrant Dink's message of peace and reconciliation, it is encouraging to read the words of one who now perhaps does.

Today I took part in a rally in Istanbul, marking the 1 year anniversary of Hran’t Dink’s tragic assasination. There was very little I understood, but the atmosphere was sad and angry. The wave of people – perhaps 80-100,000 was flowing like an endless river, blocking the street in front of the AGOS newspaper office. People were demanding justice and uncovering the true motives of the organizers of the assasination.

[…]

As an Armenian taking part in the rally, I was there only because Hrant Dink is Armenian, and was killed, from what I understood, exactly for his nationality.

However, for those thousands of people protesting in the street, he was much more then an Armenian. Yesterday I also I found out, that he is one of the symbols of Turkey’s future. Yesterday I also understood, that Turkey’s future is bright, if it could trigger such a major rally a year after the murder of the Armenian journalist, because people really care about what’s happening with their country and their citizens – regardless of their nationality.

Hrant Dink – brave man – farewell to you. Rest in peace.

In Memorium,
Hrant Dink 1954- 2007

7 comments

  • […] full post is available on Global Voices Online. Posted by Onnik @ 1:33 pm. Filed under: Armenia, Politics, Armenian Diaspora, Freedom of […]

  • […] the first anniversary of the murder of Hrant Dink in Istanbul, Turkey, Unzipped: Gay Armenia remembers the slain newspaper editor and journalist […]

  • . . . but it made Turks more determined to protect and expand the freedom of speech.

    If Dink’s murder had created such determination, the state would have gotten rid of Article 301 instead of continuing to use it as a shield to protect the very ambiguous crime of “insulting Turkishness.”

  • […] and other champions of the freedom of the press congregate Hrant is being remembered. Online bloggers are voicing their own opinions on the slain journalist and Reporters Without Borders published an […]

  • […] Taner Akçam this past January. He was the guest of honor at a memorial service and dinner on the first anniversary of the murder of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in Istanbul. He is a small man, with […]

  • […] materializing in the modern-day Republic of Turkey. However, it also notes that such approaches are fraught with dangers for the ethnic Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish writers and journalists who attempt to do so. [A] Turkish newspaper, Taraf, […]

  • Roamer

    Here is an interesting article by a friend of Mr. Dink’s. A very good read.

    The legacy of Hrant Dink

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