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Azerbaijan: Bloggers remember Hrant Dink four years on

This post is part of our special coverage Caucasus Conflict Voices.

Wednesday 19 January 2011 marked the fourth anniversary of the murder in Istanbul of Hrant Dink, the renowned Turkish-Armenian journalist, editor of the Turkish-Armenian Agos newspaper, and human rights activist who consistently advocated for reconciliation and friendship between nations, and especially estranged neighbors Armenia and Turkey. This year, however, and quite unexpectedly, the anniversary was also marked by many bloggers from Azerbaijan.

Despite a still unresolved conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, quite a few Azerbaijani Facebook users updated their status lines while Twitter updates were dedicated to the memory of the slain ethnic Armenian journalist. On Facebook, an entry posted on the Önər Blog [AZ] was shared extensively.

Hrant Dink həm Ermənistan üçün, həm Türkiyə üçün mühüm tarixi əhəmiyyəti olan jurnalist idi. Onun ölümünü bütün dünyada azad jurnalistikanin aldığı ən ağır zərbələrdən hesab edirəm.

[…]

Mən bir bloq yazarı kimi, Hrant Dinkin ölümünü Türkiyə dövlətinin azad sözə qarşı cinayəti hesab edir və şiddətlə qınayıram. Həmçinin “hepimiz Hrant Dinkiz, hepimiz ermeniyiz” də demirəm, “hepimiz özgürüz” deyirəm.

Hrant Dink was a historically important journalist for both Armenia and Turkey. I consider his death to be one of the biggest blows to free press in the world.

[…]

Speaking as a blogger, I find that the murder of Hrant Dink is a crime that the Turkish government has committed against free speech in Turkey, and strongly condemn it.

And I don’t say, “We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenians” [the chant used by protesters at Hrant Dink’s funeral]. I say, “We are all free.”

When translated into Armenian, Unzipped re-posted it. The Armenian blog noted that it was this post that caught his eye more than any other and agreed with the sentiments expressed. Meanwhile, another Azerbaijani blog, Viva El Revolucion! Viva El Libertat! [AZ], remarked that politics should not get in the way of remembrance.

Azərbaycanlılardan kim nə deyir desin, amma millətçilik etməyin mənası yoxdur. Hansısa Robertlərə və Serjlərə görə bu insanı sırf erməni olduğuna görə təqsirkar bilib, onu hər addımda alçaltmaq və onu öldürənləri qəhrəman kimi qələmə vermələri həqiqətəndə ifrat millətçilikdən o tərəfə deyil […]. Hrant Dink heç kəsin tərəfin tutmurdu. Onun peşəsi jurnalistika idi […]. Ən sonda isə yaxşı bir erməni, həmdə yaxşı bir solçu idi. […]

Whoever says whatever in Azerbaijan, there is no point in being nationalist. Because of the Roberts and Serjs [former and current presidents in Armenia] accusing this person of being an Armenian, belittling him, and considering his murderers to be heroes is nothing but extreme nationalism […]. Hrant Dink did not take the side of anyone. His profession was journalism […]. In the end, he was a good Armenian, and a good leftist. […]

Four years without Hrant

SIMASIZ QULDURLAR BLOGU… [AZ] also contemplated the issue of nationality, concluding that speaking the truth is all that matters.

Hrant Dink milliyətcə erməni ola bilər. Həqiqətin isə heç bir milliyəti yoxdur. Həqiqətin milliyəti həqiqətdir. Həqiqəti erməni də, əfqan da, türk də dilə gətirə bilər! Buna görə də insanı öldürməzlər. Hrant Dink də həqiqət axtarışında idi… Amma öldürüldü.

Hrant Dink may be Armenian by ethnicity, but the truth has no nationality. The nationality of truth is truth itself. The truth can be brought to life by an Armenian, an Afghan, or a Turk! For this reason, a person must not be killed. Hrant Dink was in search of the truth… But he was murdered.

1+1=3 [AZ] agreed.

BəLi , o erməni idi …
BəLi , o bunu etiraf edir, təkzib etmir, hər zamanda fəxrlə bunu deyərdi….
O juranlist idi …
O insan idi…

Yes, he was an Armenian…
Yes, he admitted it, never denied it, and always said it proudly…
He was a journalist…
He was human…

Other Azerbaijani bloggers writing in English also commented on the anniversary, with Flying Carpets and Broken Pipelines shares not only its thoughts, but also a link to a video. Its writer and director, Ümit Kıvanç, has since given Global Voices the necessary permissions to enable embedding for this post.

[…] He was a man with ideas and dreams. He was a fighter. But what happened to things that Hrant Dink was fighting for so passionately- looking at relations between Armenia and Turkey, the two are more distant than ever and prospects for reconciliation are stuck somewhere between Turkey's and Armenia's weak foreign policy, Nagorno Karabakh and the rest of the world that talks so much […] but does too little to have any effect if any on the process.

From 19 January to 19 January from ümit kıvanç on Vimeo.

Another Azerbaijani, writing in English on Fuck Yeah, The Caucasus!, simply posted lyrics from a traditional folk song with a brief commentary.

Hrant Dink wasn’t Caucasian, he was truly and utterly Anatolian, but he is relevant to the ongoing conflicts in the Caucasus in terms of what he put forward during his life and what came out of his death. […] Hatred is taught everywhere, it makes people blind, and in their blindness people shed their reason and their conscience, their humanity. I want to think that hatred can be unlearned, not as easily but just as well.

Allah rəhmət eləsin. May he rest in peace.

Although there were likely many more posts from Turkish bloggers, what was interesting about this year's remembrance was that it was Azerbaijani blog posts, and specifically in Azerbaijani with the exception of the Armenian translation on the Önər Blog, that were shared more widely than in English, Armenian or Russian.

Meanwhile, in Turkey itself, thousands of people gathered in front of the Agos newspaper demanding justice for Hrant Dink and exclaiming “Hepimiz Hrantiniz, Hepimiz Ermeniyiz” (All of us are Hrants, All of us are Armenians).

This post is part of our special coverage Caucasus Conflict Voices.

3 comments

  • BTW: Flying Carpets and Broken Pipelines received a negative reaction to its post about Hrant Dink (quoted above) from mainly those based in Turkey:

    http://flyingcarpetsandbrokenpipelines.blogspot.com/2011/01/reaction-to-my-post-on-hrant-dink.html

  • Those negative reactions you mention remind me of some of the insults I’ve had from Armenians, but I think it’s worth pointing out that nationalists exist everywhere. In fact, it’s also interesting to note that Dink is remembered more by those who believe in democracy and tolerance in Turkey, as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan, than those who don’t.

    Perhaps his greatest gift to the world was bringing those people together, a process which continues even four years after his death.

    Meanwhile, it’s also interesting to note that upon checking various metrics, the Azerbaijani posts, particularly the ones in Azerbaijani, were shared more on Facebook and Twitter compared to a significantly lesser number of posts that I saw from Armenian bloggers whether in English, Armenian or Russian.

    Indeed, one prominent nationalist blogger in Armenia who recently had his LiveJournal account suspended and is engaged in many anti-Azerbaijan, anti-Turkish and anti-Georgian activities online and off, even attacked Dink’s memory on his new blog to mark the anniversary.

    Still, at least that’s honest. Many Armenian nationalists who actually despised and ostracised Dink when he was alive, now even seek to exploit his memory in ways totally at odds with everything he represented and stood for. But, like I said, there will always be such people. Unfortunately.

    This year, however, we can at least be encouraged that like-minded progressive people in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey could be brought together by his legacy. That is quite unprecedented and incredibly important. That Dink’s life could do that is amazing in itself. It’s just a pity that it only really happened after his death.

    In time, I can only hope the moderates outnumber the nationalists. Perhaps the anger of the latter, and they way they seek to threaten and intimidate, is because they fear that day coming sooner rather than later. In that context, the posts from Azerbaijan were very encouraging indeed…

  • Gibbons

    Onik, you are traitor, Dink was a traitor, I follow what you write and comment, you are traitor, your existence is shame for Armenian nation. To see why I ask you two questions:
    1. should Mount Masis (Ararat)-the heart of the Armenian Highland belong to the Republic of Armenia (broadly speaking, do you support the idea that the aboriginal nation of the Armenian Highland wiped away in 1915 should go back and has a right to establish a sovereign state of Western Armenia or just get united with the Republic of Armenia)?
    2. Do you think that Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) should be independent or be united with the Republic of Armenia?
    Just answer this two questions and if you sincerely say “yes”, I am ready to apologize many many times and allow you to call me jerk, but I guess from your earlier posts and your photos that the answer at least for one of this questions is “no” , that is why I start my comment with insults……
    Davatchan…..

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