Thousands have marched in Turkey to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist and Agos newspaper editor Hrant Dink. Angering Turkish nationalists with his outspoken position that the 1915 massacre and deportation of as many as 1.5 million ethnic Armenians as the Ottoman Empire collapsed constituted genocide, Dink was shot dead outside his office in Istanbul on 19 January 2007.
His killer, Ogun Samast, was sentenced last year, but the end this week of the trial of others involved continues to leave many questions relating to official involvement in the assassination unanswered. Writing on Critical Legal Thinking, Basak Ertür provides a comprehensive background to the case as well as the events leading up to Dink's death.
Hrant Dink’s murder was the culminating point of a persecution campaign that can be traced back to February 2004, when he published claims to the effect that Sabiha Gökçen, the adopted daughter of Atatürk and the first woman war pilot of the Turkish Republic, was of Armenian descent. Dink’s claim provoked a public statement from the Chief of Staff, the highest echelon of the Turkish army. A few days later he was summoned to the Istanbul Governor’s Office and “warned” by two people who were introduced to him as “friends” of the then Deputy Governor. Three and a half years after the assassination, the Intelligence Service admitted that these two people were its operatives.
[…] The deep state lurks menacingly behind the innumerable assassinations, disappearances, provocations, threats, disinformation campaigns, psychological operations and dirty deals of the past few decades. Though providing much fodder for what can be dismissed as conspiracy theorising, the very style and structure of deep state plots render them almost immediately recognisable to a public that has become all too familiar with them. Hrant Dink’s assassination was instantly widely recognised as one such plot.
Certain pieces of information that surfaced during the trial corroborated this view. One of the defendants testified that in his capacity as a police informant, he had repeatedly warned the security forces of the plan to assassinate Dink in the months leading to his death. Some documentary evidence supported the claim that the police was informed of the plan as early as eleven months before the assassination. Key defendants were remarkably smug during the hearings, occasionally signalling, though never disclosing their deeper connections.
This is what Fethiye Çetin, the lawyer representing the Dink family, meant when she spoke after the decision, referring to the case as a comedy: “They’ve been mocking us all along. And today, we saw that they saved the punch-line for the end.”
Nevertheless, if Dink was loathed by Turkish nationalists, he was also disliked by their counterparts in Armenia and its large Diaspora. Also calling for reconciliation and brotherhood between Armenians and Turks, it's therefore perhaps no wonder that most of those protesting the outcome of the trial as well as commemorating yesterday's anniversary were Turks, Kurds and Armenians living in Turkey.
Erkan Saka, a Turkish academic and blogger, posts some of the many updates and photos sent out on Twitter in Turkish. However, there were also updates, with some translation into English, from commemorative marches throughout Turkey.
@umitalan: Taksim'le Agos arasında müthiş bır kalabalık var. Devlete, yargıya ve tüm katillerine en ıyi cevap bu. Bu dava burada bitmeyecek.
@449981: CNNTurk 30 bin kişi oldugunu soyledi şimdi.yayını taksimden yapıyorlardı galiba,grubun en arkası gözüküyordu roportaj yaptıkları yerden.
@pinarinfanta: Belki de içimi en çok burkan ayakkabısının altındaki delikti,sessizce kaldırımda yatıyordu..suçu sadece ‘Ermeni’ olmaktı #kardesimsinhrant
@ETemelkuran: Ppl of Istanbul r gathering to protest the unjust closure of #hrantdink case for the 2nd time today. The morning march was thousands.
@techsoc: I keep thinking: This huge march symbolizes everything Hrant was. Such a shame that it was only his death that brought it about.
Başka simply posted the statement in Turkish by ethnic Armenian journalist and writer Karin Karakaşlı made at the commemoration.
19 Ocak bir anma günü değil. Hiçbir zaman da olmadı. Zaten bu topraklarda ayrı ayrı yaşatılmış ne kadar acı varsa, hiçbirinin anma günü olmadı. Herkes acısının yaşatıldığı o tarih geldiğinde, kendince, bir başına kahroldu.
Dosya kapandı diyorlar bize. Kapandı mı bu dosya? Hrant Dink dosya değil ki kapatasın, o bir yara… Artık köprüden önceki son çıkıştayız. Oradan hakkıyla geçmeden tamamlanacak ödeşme, kurulacak düş, inanılacak adalet, yaşanacak memleket yok. Öbür türlüsü sadece yalan olur ve bir gün başımıza yıkılır. Altında kalırız hep birlikte.
O yüzden gün, sadece söz söylemek değil söz vermek zamanı.
Söz verelim mi birbirimize? Bu dava daha bitmedi.
Söz verelim mi birbirimize? İnsanlık daha ölmedi.
Söz verelim mi birbirimize? Devlet daha hesabını vermedi.
Sözümüz söz olsun. Bu adaletsizlikle yaşamak hepimize haramdır. Aksi için uğraşan hepimize helal olsun.
The dossier has been closed, we are told. Is this dossier closed? Hrant Dink is not a dossier to be closed. He is a wound. We are in the one but last exit before the bridge. There is no score to settle, no hope to harbour, no justice to believe in, no country to live in until you cross it properly. Any other way would be a lie and one day will come upon us. We will stay under the heaviness of it.
This is why it is time to make a promise, not to simply say we will.
Shall we make a promise to each other that this struggle has not ended.
Shall we make a promise to each other that the humanity has not died.
Shall we make a promise to each other that the state is yet to account.
We promise. Living with this injustice is forbidden for all of us. Be blessed all who struggle otherwise.
Judging from the commemorations in Istanbul and elsewhere, as well as from prominent figures and online commentary in Turkey, many appear to agree.
Global Voices Azerbaijan author Pervin Muradli provided the translations from Turkish into English for this post.