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English: Hrant Dink Assasinated - Press Revue
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 PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:
Turkish Nationalist's after Hrant Dink's assasination [click here]
 
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 PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
Feb 3 2007
by ATOM EGOYAN

BOOK REVIEW; Pg. D15

"We are all Armenian';
The murder of a journalist in Turkey has reopened the discussion
about genocide and its denial, filmmaker ATOM EGOYAN says


The first book I ever read about the Armenian genocide was written by
an Austrian Jew. Franz Werfel's epic novel Forty Days of Musa Dagh
(Viking Press, 1934) created a sensation when it was published.
Meticulously researched and written with an astute sense of
psychological detail, the novel was intended as a wake-up call to
European Jewry. If it could happen to Armenians in 1915, it could
happen anywhere.

But what exactly happened to Armenians in 1915? The enduring value of
Werfel's great book is his ability to render all aspects of Armenian
life in the Ottoman Empire with a startlingly vivid clarity and
nuance. Very much in the tradition of the works of Thomas Mann (they
were contemporaries), every character is observed with a sense of
psychological magnification and kaleidoscopic vision.

Faced with certain death at the hands of the Turks, an Armenian
village mobilizes itself into action. Five thousand are led into the
impenetrable mountain area of Musa Dagh, where they heroically defend
themselves. The plot is linear and straightforward, yet each of the
main characters is infused with marvellous complexity. Werfel
presents the terrible events of 1915 with grandeur and scope, yet
fills every detail with precision and tenderness.

A defining aspect of the Armenian genocide is the methodical and
highly efficient denial of its perpetrators. Many scholarly works
have been published on this subject, including the Turkish academic
Taner Akcam's A Shameful Act (Henry Holt, 2006). The most succinct
and compelling explanation of this history is offered in Robert
Fisk's recent The Great War for Civilization (Fourth Estate, 2005).

Fisk has been in the forefront of the Middle East's conflicts for 30
years, and this monumental work is a passionate and heartfelt
indictment of the lies and deceit that have defined the politics of
the region. In many ways, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire - and
the subsequent dividing of its spoils by the West - set the stage for
the instability of the entire region. Fisk devotes an entire chapter
(titled The First Holocaust) to the Armenian Question.

In fewer than 50 pages, Fisk brilliantly sets out the brutal
machinery of genocide, chronicling Hitler's familiarity with the
mechanics and - just as ominously - its denial. He clearly explains
how the issue of the Armenian genocide began to fade from European
and U.S. attention after the First World War, despite the huge amount
of attention the massacres received at the time.

Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who was murdered in Turkey three
weeks ago, used this point as a way of explaining the event to his
Turkish countrymen. Turkey has been able to suppress "the Armenian
Question" because the West has allowed it to do so. Even with a
growing number of countries (including Canada) recognizing the
genocide, it still runs counter to general Western interests to
pursue the matter.

When MGM tried to make a film of Forty Days of Musa Dagh in the
mid-thirties, the Turkish ambassador filed a protest with the U.S.
State Department. If the film were to be made, Turkey would ban all
U.S. films from entering the country. After a year of exchanges
between the two governments, the State Department acquiesced to the
Turkish demand, and the project was dropped.

Peter Balakian, in his highly charged memoir Black Dog of Fate
(HarperCollins, 1997), wonders how Franklin Roosevelt's State
Department could care so little about artistic freedom, especially in
light of what was about to happen to the Jews of Europe. Like Fisk,
Balakian is obsessed with the question of how a catastrophe that
loomed so large in the U.S. consciousness could slip from collective
memory (his most recent book, The Burning Tigris: The Armenian
Genocide and America's Response, explores how and why the Armenian
crisis became for the United States, its first international
human-rights movement.

Balakian is a wonderful poet, and if I were to suggest one book that
combines carefully researched history with an emotionally charged
journey into the contemporary Armenian soul, this is certainly the
one to read.

Black Dog of Fate presents Balakian's upbringing in the optimistic
years of 1950s and '60s U.S. suburbia. With warmth and affection,
Balakian describes an adolescence of athletic seasons (football,
basketball, baseball), Sunday feasts of Armenian food and beautiful
evocations of his family and relatives. Balakian is a great lover of
carpets, and he weaves his words and highly charged imagery in a
masterful way. The unexpected discovery of how his grandmother made
an actual legal claim against the Turkish government after the First
World War is unforgettable. Balakian sets up his beloved
grandmother's fragmented dreams and whispered stories, disarming the
reader with a poetic sense of melancholic reverie.

Balakian then presents a dry legal document he discovers that lists
the family she lost to the genocide (husband, brothers, sisters,
nieces and nephews), as well as a complete itemization of the
plundered goods of the family business. The plaintive claim for
compensation is simply devastating.

Balakian's grandmother, signing this legal document on Jan. 31, 1920,
states, "The Turkish government is responsible for the losses and
injuries. . . . I am a human being and a citizen of the U.S.A. and
under the support of human and International law." Needless to say,
there was no response to this claim.

Last month, thousands of Turks poured into the streets of Istanbul
after Hrant Dink's murder, yelling, "We are all Hrant Dink. We are
all Armenian." In the face of such confusion, pain and hatred, there
is an urgent human need to find empathy. Great literature strives for
this generosity of spirit, and these three authors will leave a
lasting impression on the reader.

Atom Egoyan is working on Auroras, a meditation on the Armenian
genocide. This installation will be exhibited during Luminato,
Toronto Festival of Arts & Creativity, in June, 2007. Among his many
films is Ararat, about the 1915 massacre of Armenians in Turkey.
 
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 PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:
PanARMENIAN.Net
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph
02.02.2007 13:56 GMT+04:00

Resolution condemning Dink assassination introduced in U.S. Senate


R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) introduced legislation condemning the
assassination of Hrant Dink and honoring his legacy of tolerance and
peaceful change, reports the Armenian Assembly of America. "Hrant
Dink was a leading voice in Turkey's Armenian community and an
eloquent advocate for human rights, press freedom, and democracy,"
said Senator Biden. "His assassination was an outrage and a tragedy.
Hrant's legacy deserves the Senate's respect. His murder demands our
action."


The Senate bill is similar to H. Res. 102, which was introduced by
Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) on January 29 with the support of
the Armenian Assembly. The Biden resolution condemns Dink's
assassination and supports Turkey's pledge to conduct an exhaustive
investigation into his killing. Furthermore, the legislation urges
Turkey to take appropriate action to protect freedom of speech in
Turkey by repealing Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which
criminalizes public discussion on the Armenian Genocide. The
resolution also calls on Turkey to reestablish full diplomatic,
political and economic relations with Armenia.
 
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 PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:


(05.02.2007)
Das zweite Gesicht
Land im Krieg mit sich selbst: Der Schock nach dem Dink-Mord war kurz, dann machte die andere Türkei mobil, die nationalistische

Der Mann im beigen Regenmantel kritzelt gelangweilt auf einem Stück Papier herum. Den Mantel hat er nicht abgelegt, obwohl die Luft in der Redaktion der kleinen Istanbuler Wochenzeitung „Agos“ stickig und warm ist. Für die Telefonate und die hin- und herrennenden Zeitungsleute hat der Mann im Trenchcoat kaum einen Blick übrig. Er gehört auch nicht zu „Agos“. Er gehört zur türkischen Polizei.


„Sogar in die Toilette geht er mit“, sagt Aydin Engin, der an einem Schreibtisch neben dem Regenmantel-Typen sitzt. Der Polizist ist Engins staatlich angeordnete Leibwache, 24 Stunden am Tag, sieben Tage in der Woche sind er und seine Kollegen in der Nähe des Journalisten. Die Personenschützer sollen verhindern, dass Engin von türkischen Rechtsnationalisten umgebracht wird. Engin ist Kolumnist bei „Agos“ und seit der Ermordung des „Agos“-Gründers Hrant Dink am 19. Januar vor dem Redaktionsgebäude im Istanbuler Stadtteil Sisli so etwas wie der inoffizielle Sprecher des armenisch-türkischen Wochenblatts. Ständig ist der 65-Jährige im Fernsehen zu sehen. Das reicht, um ihn zu einer extrem gefährdeten Person zu machen.

Auch Engins neuer Chefredakteur und Dink-Nachfolger Etyen Mahcupyan sowie eine Handvoll anderer Journalisten und Intellektueller werden seit jenem 19. Januar von der Polizei geschützt. Vor dem „Agos“-Gebäude steht ein Einsatzwagen der Polizei, in der Lobby im Erdgeschoss sitzen drei Beamte in Uniform. Bevor Besucher eingelassen werden, fragen zusätzliche, von „Agos“ bezahlte Wachleute über Funk drinnen nach, ob die Redaktion jemanden erwartet.

Nötig sind solche Vorsichtsmaßnahmen, weil der Mord an Dink die Türkei nur vorübergehend schockierte. Dieser Schock bremste lediglich ein paar Tage lang die erbitterte und zunehmend gewalttätige Auseinandersetzung darüber, was für ein Land die Türkei eigentlich sein will. Bühne dieses Streits ist die Armenierfrage. Die Feststellung, die Massaker an den Armeniern von 1915 seien ein Völkermord gewesen, wird von den allermeisten Türken auch heute noch als persönliche Beleidigung aufgefasst: Eine ehrliche Aufarbeitung dieses dunklen Kapitels der eigenen Geschichte hat es am Bosporus nie gegeben. „In der Türkei gibt es keinen Alexander Mitscherlich, der zur Trauerarbeit angestoß en hätte“, sagt der in Istanbul lehrende deutsche Historiker Christoph K. Neumann.

Schon bei Dinks Beerdigung am 23. Januar taten sich Gräben voller Ängste und Hass auf. Als mehr als 100 000 Menschen beim Trauermarsch für Dink unter dem Solidaritätsmotto „Wir sind alle Armenier“ auf die Straße gingen, machten die Nationalisten mobil. „Wir sind alle Türken“, lautet die Gegenparole. Von einem „Kreuzzug“ gegen die Nation war die Rede. Seit dem Tag des Trauerzuges treffen bei liberalen Kommentatoren per Post und per E-Mail hundertfach Gewaltdrohungen ein.

„Es gibt keinen Dialog“, sagt Engin über die beiden Lager. Das Land habe eben mehrere Gesichter: „Eines weist nach Europa und zur Demokratie, doch andere blicken in die andere Richtung.“

Dennoch wollen einige Behördenvertreter die Gefahr nicht wahrhaben, die jedem droht, der im Zusammenhang mit den Armeniern den Nationalisten öffentlich widerspricht. Das zeigt der Fall des Universitätsprofessors Baskin Oran, der durch seine Forderung nach mehr Rechten für die Minderheiten in der Türkei bekannt ist. Als Oran in den vergangenen Tagen die Staatsanwaltschaft um Personenschutz bat, weil er Morddrohungen erhalten hatte, riet ihm der zuständige Beamte, er solle doch lieber versuchen, sich mit den Absendern der Drohungen „zu einigen“. Erst als Oran mit dieser Auskunft an die Öffentlichkeit ging, erhielt er polizeilichen Schutz. Noch ist nicht eindeutig geklärt, ob das merkwürdige Verhalten der Polizei nur auf Schlamperei oder auf heimliche Sympathie für die Rechtsradikalen zurückzuführen ist. Wenn es um Linke oder Kurden geht, können türkische Polizisten jedenfalls ganz anders zulangen.

Gewollt oder ungewollt haben die Behörden dazu beigetragen, dass der rechte Rand die Bühne beherrscht. Nicht um die Gründe für den Hass auf die Armenier und auf andere Minderheiten dreht sich die Debatte – es geht um den Schutz der Nation vor angeblichen Auflösungstendenzen. Die von den Politikern gern und häufig beschworene Vorstellung, dass die Türken im Umgang mit den verschiedenen Minderheiten im Land tolerant seien, sei nur ein „Mythos“, der das Land für die Realitäten blind mache, meint der Politikwissenschaftler Dogu Ergil. Vielmehr herrsche in der Türkei eine „Belagerungsmentalität“, in der die Einheit der Nation über alles gehe. Das ist die „andere Türkei“, von der Engin spricht.

Auf diese andere Türkei trifft man schon wenige Schritte vom „Agos“-Gebäude entfernt. Da wartet der Obsthändler Mehmet Saracoglu in seinem winzigen Laden in einer Seitenstraße auf Kunden. Natürlich sei er entrü stet über den Mord an Dink, sagt er. Aber fast noch schlimmer findet Saracoglu, was sich beim Trauermarsch abspielte. „Das waren keine normalen Türken, die dort mitmarschierten“, sagt er. „Die meisten waren von der PKK oder von den Linksextremisten.“ Der Slogan „Wir sind alle Armenier“ ist für ihn Beweis genug: „Das ist doch Separatismus.“

Saracoglu steht mit seiner Meinung nicht allein. Da ist zum Beispiel der 36-jährige Nihat Acar, der vor ein paar Tagen eine Autofähre im westtürkischen Canakkale in seine Gewalt brachte, um gegen die Solidaritätsbekundungen bei der Trauerfeier für Dink zu protestieren. Als Acar nach stundenlangen Verhandlungen mit der Polizei aufgab, verließ er die Fähre erhobenen Hauptes und mit der türkischen Fahne in der Hand. „Ich hab’s fürs Vaterland getan“, sagte er dann im Verhör.

In Dinks Heimatstadt Malatya wurden vor einigen Tagen zehn Menschen bei einer Schlägerei zwischen Fußballfans verletzt. Anhänger der Gastmannschaft hatten die Heimmannschaft als „armenisches Malatya“ bezeichnet. In der Schwarzmeer-Stadt Samsun griffen Unbekannte eine protestantische Kirche mit Steinen an und warfen Scheiben ein. Respekt für die Minderheiten müsste zwar sein, kommentierte die konservative Zeitung „Türkiye“, aber: „Lasst uns die Mehrheit nicht vergessen.“

In Ankara lobte Oppositionsführer Deniz Baykal, der sich selbst als Sozialdemokraten bezeichnet, den Nationalismus als „Zement, der das Land zusammenhält“. Die größte Zeitung des Landes, „Hürriyet“, forderte den neuen „Agos“-Chefredakteur auf, sich mit Kritik an den Türken zurückzuhalten.

In der Polarisierung sehen sich viele in der Türkei aufgerufen, für die eine oder andere Seite Partei zu ergreifen. Eine rechtsgerichtete Zeitung ließ Plakate mit dem Satz „Wir sind alle Türken“ an ihre Leser verteilen. Ein Szene-Restaurant in Istanbul führte dagegen demonstrativ ein armenisches Menü ein.

Wohin führt diese Konfrontation? „Die Gefahr ist groß“, sagt „Agos“-Redakteur Aydin Engin. Ende der 70er Jahre erlebte er schon einmal, wie die Türkei ein Bürgerkrieg erschütterte. Er selbst wurde wegen seiner journalistischen Arbeit zu 15 Jahren Haft verurteilt, konnte aber nach Deutschland fliehen, wo er zwölf Jahre blieb. Kommen jetzt die schlechten alten Zeiten wieder? „Wir müssen versuchen, eine gewaltfreie Lösung zu finden, sonst fürchte ich, dass wir wieder eine bürgerkriegsähnliche Situation erleben könnten.“ Erst vor wenigen Tagen warnte das Innenministerium in Ankara die Sicherheitsbehörden in allen 81 Provinzen des Landes vor der Gefahr weiterer Gewalttaten. „Die Situation ist heiß – nicht warm“, sagt Engin an seinem Schreibtisch bei „Agos“. Der Mann im Trenchcoat rührt in seinem Tee und schweigt.
 
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 PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:


PRESS RELEASE

Tuesday 6 February 2006
TURKEY

CALL FOR FIRM ACTION FROM GOVERNMENT IN FACE OF
POLICE NEGLIGENCE AND MISCONDUCT IN DINK CASE



The negligence of the authorities prior to the 19
January murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist
Hrant Dink and the sympathy for the murderer
displayed by police in a video made public last
week call for sanctions and measures to protect
journalists in Turkey, Reporters Without Borders
says.




While eight people have been charged in the 19
January murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist
Hrant Dink, the negligence of the authorities in
this case and the sympathy for the murderer
displayed by police in a video made public last
week call for sanctions and measures to protect
journalists in Turkey, Reporters Without Borders
said today.

"As the murder investigation continues, recent
developments have made it absolutely necessary
that the Turkish authorities actively combat the
ultra-nationalist groups, including those within
the security forces, whose very existence
threatens the safety of journalists," the press
freedom organisation said."

"The video of policemen posing beside Dink's
confessed murderer, Ogün Samast, is a scandal,"
Reporters Without Borders added. "The apparent
negligence of the police as regards information
received more than a year ago about a plot
against Dink is also shocking. The government
must punish those responsible as a matter of
urgency."

On 1 February, the privately-owned TV station
TGRT broadcast footage showing Samast on the
night of 20 January shortly after his arrest in
the northeastern port city of Samsun. He is seen
holding a Turkish flag posing for souvenir photos
with police officers in the local police station.
A quotation of Mustapha Kemal Atatürk can be seen
on a calendar in the background: "The soil of the
motherland is sacred. It cannot be abandoned to
its fate."

The video has triggered an outcry in the Turkish
press. The newspaper Radikal said it clearly
showed the mentality that led to Dink's murder,
adding that all that was missing was for someone
to "come and kiss the murderer's forehead."
Radikal editor Ismat Berkan said: "This video
proves that the murderer and his accomplices are
not alone and that the support they enjoy has
penetrated all levels of the state."

The tabloid newspaper Sabah's headline was
"Shoulder to shoulder with the murderer," while
the daily Vatan said the video was "as serious as
the murder itself."

Samsun prosecutor Ahmet Gökçinar announced that
an investigation has been ordered into the
incident while the interior ministry said that
eight police officers have already been relieved
of their duties. But the high command of the
Turkish armed forces reacted by withdrawing
TGRT's press accreditation.

The video has fueled the already fierce criticism
of the police, who are accused of failing to
protect Dink although he had reported in the
newspaper he edited, the bilingual
Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, that he had been
receiving threats and hate e-mail.

On 30 January, several newspapers reported the
allegations made by a police informer, Erhan
Tucel, who has been arrested as part of the
investigation. Tuncel is said to have told the
police in the northeastern city of Trabzon
(Samast's home town) in February 2006 of plans to
murder Dink, identifying Yasin Hayal (one of
those now charged along with Samast) as the
potential murderer. The police did reportedly
begin to check out the claim but did not pursue
it.

Aside from Tuncel, Hayal and Samast himself, the
youth who gunned down Dink outside the offices of
his Istanbul-based newspaper, the five other
people charged with Dink's murder are Ahmet
Iskender, Ersin Yolcu, Zeynel Abidin Yavuz and
Tuncay Uzundal.

A well-known journalist and one who was respected
by his colleagues, Dink had been the target of
several prosecutions over his views on the
massacres of Armenians from 1915 to 1917. In
2005, he received six-month suspended sentence
for "humiliating Turkish identity." He was
prosecuted again in September 2006 over an
interview he gave to Reuters in which he referred
to the massacres in Anatolia during the First
World War as "genocide." He had been facing a
possible three-year prison sentence. Dink had
been due to appear before Istanbul courts on 22
March and 18 April.



5 rue Geoffroy-Marie - 75009 Paris (France)
Tel: 331-4483-8467 / Fax: 331-4523-1151
europe@rsf.org - Read more  www.rsf.org
 
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 PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:
http://www.latimes.com/

By Vartan Oskanian, VARTAN OSKANIAN is minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Armenia.

February 7, 2007

Turkey misses its chance with Armenia

Hrant Dink's assassination provided a key opportunity for Turkey to mend relations with its neighbor.

ANKARA HAS LET a rare moment pass. Three weeks after the assassination of acclaimed Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, it appears the Turkish authorities have grasped neither the message of Hrant's life nor the significance of his death.


In the days immediately following Dink's shocking death, allegedly at the hands of a fanatic Turkish nationalist, we in Armenia and others around the world wanted to believe that the outpouring of public grief would create a crack in the Turkish wall of denial and rejection, and that efforts would be made to chip away at the conditions that made the assassination possible. We all hoped that the gravity of this slaying and the breadth of the reaction would have compelled Turkey's leaders to seize the moment and make a radical shift in the policies that sustain today's dead-end situation.

However, after those initial hints at conciliation, the message out of Ankara has already changed. Last week, according to the Turkish media, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there can be no rapprochement with Armenians because Armenians still insist on talking about the genocide.

The prime minister is right. Armenians do insist on talking about the genocide. It's a history-changing event that ought not, indeed cannot, be forgotten. However, we also advocate a rapprochement. And one is not a precondition for the other.

Dink was an advocate of many things. Chief among them, he believed that individuals have the right to think, to talk, to explore, to debate. Dink knew that if the authorities would just allow people to reflect and reason aloud, share questions and search for answers, everything would fall into place. Eventually, through public and private discourse, Turks would arrive at genocide recognition themselves.

Equally, he also believed that there must be dialogue between peoples, between nations — especially between his two peoples, the Armenians and the Turks. He himself was a one-man dialogue, carrying on both sides of the conversation, trying to make one side's needs and fears audible to the other.

Unfortunately, Turkey's policy of keeping the Armenian-Turkish border closed has resulted in a reinforcement of animosities. Dink was one of many Armenian and Turkish intellectuals who understood that there needs to be free movement of people and ideas in order to achieve reconciliation among neighbors. But Turkey insists on maintaining the last closed border in Europe as a tool to exert pressure on Armenia, to make its foreign policy more pliant, to punish Armenians for defending their rights and not renouncing their past. Armenia, on the other hand, has no preconditions to normalizing relations.

This hermetically closed border combined with a law that prevents Turkey from exploring its own history and memory (by criminalizing truth-seekers such as Dink) have created a world in which Turks can't know their past and can't forge their future. They can neither explore old memories nor replace them with new ones.

Three weeks ago, our grief was mixed with hope. Today, Turkish authorities continue to defend Article 301, the notorious "insulting Turkishness" statute used to prosecute even novelists who depict characters questioning Ankara's official line on the genocide. And there is no mention at all of the continuing damage caused by a closed border.

If Turkey can't seize the moment, it should not be surprised when others do. Last week, a resolution was introduced in the U.S. Congress to affirm the U.S. record on the Armenian genocide.

The Turks will say such a resolution is not needed. They will say that they've called for a joint Armenian-Turkish historical commission to discuss the genocide, and they don't need third parties. But recognition of the Armenian genocide is no longer a historical issue in Turkey, it's a political one. Dink would wonder how "on the one hand, they call for dialogue with Armenia and Armenians, on the other hand they want to condemn or neutralize their own citizen who is working for dialogue."

Dink was courageous but not naive. Still, he could not have predicted this kind of "neutralization." The brutality of his killing serves several political ends. First, it makes Turkey less interesting for Europe, which is exactly what some in the Turkish establishment want. Second, it may scare away Armenians and other minorities in Turkey from pursuing their civil and human rights. Third, it can frighten into silence those bold Turks who are beginning to explore these complicated, sensitive subjects in earnest.

I prefer to think that more noble political ideals will be served. Hrant Dink will remain an inspiration for Armenians who share his vision of understanding and harmony among peoples and for Turks who share his dream of living in peace with neighbors and with history.
 
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 PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:
Report on the mission to Istanbul of 18 to 19 January 2007 to represent the European Parliament at the Funeral Mass for the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink

Rapporteur: Joost Lagendijk
Hrant Dink, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos, published in Istanbul, was shot in front of his newspaper's offices on Friday, 19 January 2007.


He died at the scene from three gunshot wounds to the head. The news spread across the world within minutes and there was a great sense of outrage within Turkey and in Europe as a whole.

The murderer was a 17-year-old youth from ultra-nationalist circles in the city of Trabzon. Although those who gave the assassination order have since been arrested, many questions surrounding this crime remain unanswered. As well as covering the Mass and visits to the family and to the editorial staff of the Agos newspaper, this report examines the ackground to the crime as well as the significance of Hrant Dink's work in the context of efforts to improve relations between Armenia and Turkey. Let us begin, however, with a brief biography of Hrant Dink:


Hrant Dink

Hrant Dink was born into an Armenian family from the town of Malayta in eastern Turkey. The Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, Mesrob II, described his development and personality in the following words:

`His life of struggle and hardship made Hrant Dink a courageous, sensitive and resolute person.
These qualities enabled him to become an advocate and a symbol of justice, freedom of belief and human rights. He stood up for his opinions and his ideas without fear of possible consequences. He was equally resolute in taking action when he was convinced that action was
needed.

Hrant had the same affinity with his native country as he had with his ethnic roots. He loved his birthplace, his country and its people without rejecting the values of his origins. His courage reflected his Anatolian attitude to people ¬ full of love, making no distinction on the basis of
religion, race or origin. In this, Hrant followed God's commandment.'

With these words, Patriarch Mesrob II expressed the joy he felt when, calling on Mrs Dink to express his condolences, he learned that Hrant believed in Jesus and honoured him as the Saviour. The fact that the Patriarch did not discover until after Hrant Dink's death that this
prominent member of his small community had been a Christian believer says a great deal about Hrant's work in Turkey. With his liberal left-wing convictions, he was not only on the side of the opposition in national politics but he also belonged to the opposition within the small
Armenian community, which is dominated by the Armenian Apostolic Church. He had been especially critical of the leaders of the community for not being vociferous enough in condemning the numerous instances of discrimination against minorities in general and against the Armenian community in particular. Nevertheless, or perhaps precisely because of that criticism and that courage, he was extremely popular within his community.
DV\651100EN

1
External Translation
Hrant Dink, whose journalism was honoured with numerous awards, had also established a firm place within Turkish society. Agos, the newspaper he published ¬ which, unlike other Armenian newspapers, also appears in Turkish ¬ was held in high regard by its Turkish readers too. His
foremost concerns were Turkish-Armenian dialogue and rapprochement, and the promotion of relations between Turkey and Armenia.

Hrant firmly believed that the past can only be addressed and understood where there are prospects of future relations. Armenia's painful history exercised his mind no less than the Armenian Diaspora. But he took a different, and perhaps more effective, approach to the debate
on the Armenian genocide of 1915 than is customary in Turkey. In his speeches and writings, he tried to avoid the term `genocide'. He informed his readers and listeners, describing the events of 1915, but left the definition to them and invited them to find the appropriate term.

Hrant was also loved by his Turkish friends because, like many other critical journalists in that country, he was persecuted on account of his work. He was the subject of several criminal trials. He was sentenced to six months in prison under Article 301 of the Criminal Code for
`denigration of Turkishness'. His last newspaper article contained a very tactful analysis of the reasons why charges against `Turkish' writers such as Orhan Pamuk and Elif afak had been dropped whereas he had been convicted. He could rebel like nobody else against exclusion and
injustice without bowing to anyone or indeed taking pleasure in his resistance. His conviction hurt him not only because he considered it unjust but also because he felt it as an affront to his deeply held anti-racist convictions. This made him a unique journalist in Turkey, a much-loved
and respected figure. His death is undoubtedly a great loss to Turkey and to the Armenian community around the world.

The funeral ¬ a political event
The funeral of Hrant Dink turned into one of the largest ever mass demonstrations in the city of Istanbul. Although it was expected that thousands would come to pay their last respects to Hrant Dink, not even the greatest of optimists could have foreseen the vast sea of more than a hundred thousand people. At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 23 January, when we
arrived in the boulevard in front of the Agos offices, thousands of people had already gathered for the demonstration, which was due to begin in one hour's time. As we waited for the start of the demonstration, which began with a speech from Hrant Dink's widow in the form of a letter, entitled Sevgilim (`My Beloved'),
2
floods of people poured into the street in front of the Agos offices from all parts of the city. Mrs Dink's speech, a declaration of love, not only moved the listening crowds to profound grief but also contained an appeal to refrain from the chanting of slogans and to accompany Hrant in silence on his final journey. This wish was respected. It was not easy to take in this mass of participants, young and old, who seemed to come from all strata of society.

It was as if we were in the midst of a sea and could only make out waves of people. It was impossible to see where the crowds began or ended.

After a few kilometres the family and guests left the demonstration to attend the Funeral Mass in the Church of the Virgin Mary. This was not easy either. The guests' path was blocked not only by the traffic, which had been brought to a standstill by the demonstration, but also by the sheer mass of people around the church. All the streets around the Church of the Virgin Mary, the seat of the Patriarch, were jammed with masses of people. The ambassadors of many countries,

1
Hélène Flautre, chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, also travelled to Istanbul for the funeral.
2
See annex.
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including the United States, the Netherlands and Germany, had travelled up from Ankara, and the Turkish Government was also represented by two ministers. The press, representatives of employers' organisations, trade unions and political parties, the Mayor of the City of Istanbul
and representatives of the Armenian community throughout the world were gathered in the church.

In his remarks during the Mass, the Patriarch was very restrained. He neither attempted to assess the political motives for the murder nor apportioned blame to the security forces for failing to protect Hrant Dink, nor did he even comment on speculation and accusations concerning these
matters. Two important demands did, however, emerge clearly: the Patriarch asked the Turkish Government to grant full freedom of expression and to ensure that people would no longer be charged or convicted, let alone murdered, for expressing their opinion. The second demand related to discrimination against the Armenian community in Turkey. The Patriarch called for recognition that `the Armenians are Turkish nationals who have lived for thousands of years in
this country, and they must no longer be perceived as a foreign body or a threat'. The removal of this prejudice, he said, should begin with the revision of school textbooks. The liturgy was accompanied and concluded by Gregorian chant and hymns. The congregation rejoined the demonstrators at the cemetery.

The family and the editorial staff of Agos
On 22 January, shortly after our arrival, we had visited the family to express our condolences and convey the condolences of the President of the European Parliament. The small modest flat in the Bakirköy district of Istanbul was crammed with family and friends of Hrant Dink.

Representatives of political parties were in the room. The youngest daughter was with her mother. Mrs Dink was outwardly composed, but her grief was evident. The constant flow of callers was surely stressful, but at the same time it helped to ease the family's pain. As we were leaving the flat, the Minister for the Interior arrived. Two days later, it was reported in the press that the Prime Minister had paid a call. Mr Erdogan spent more than an hour with the family. Some press reports seem to indicate that his visit was more than just a courtesy call.

Thanks to the bookshop that Hrant Dink established in the Bakirköy district, the family's economic circumstances seem to be stable. Before his murder, he was building a new house to reduce the burden of a high rent for the bookshop. Nevertheless, it will not be easy for the family to continue Hrant Dink's work and maintain his personal network. His children are still too young to contribute, not having yet completed their education.
The family will also have to bear his political legacy, a task made even more onerous by his murder. There is a need not only to maintain the Agos newspaper, which was partly funded from Hrant Dink's own pocket, but also to channel many initiatives designed to keep Hrant Dink's
ideas alive through the creation of foundations and other cultural and political activities, and these things are not easy to organise.

The twenty or so people who work for Agos, his political and cultural platform, showed through the organisation of the demonstration that they will continue to run the newspaper successfully.

Dink's closest friend, the journalist Etyen Mahçupyan, will take over as editor-in-chief in the meantime and will assist the family, who will be publishing Agos. The financial situation, though not particularly stable, seems to be sound enough for the newspaper to cover its costs. It
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would be a great loss for Turkey if Agos were to die with Hrant Dink. We visited the newspaper offices twice and assured the editorial team of our support.

The murderers and freedom of expression in Turkey
The murderer, a 17-year-old youth, was arrested fairly quickly, two days after the crime. The murder of an Italian priest a year before, which was also committed by a youth, aged 16, not only put the city in the spotlight but also alerted the press to the fact that fanaticised minors were
being used for political assassinations. So far seven men from ultra-nationalist circles who are believed to have been behind the crime have been arrested, and they are currently being questioned. They too are young people in their mid-twenties. Two theories are being discussed
in the Turkish press.

It is being suggested that those who give the orders are using the same methods as the organisers of suicide bombings and deliberately choosing minors to carry out their crimes. Fanaticised by nationalists and fundamentalists, these young people are sent to assassinate critical journalists, writers and politicians. After his arrest, one of the young people also made death threats against the writer Orhan Pamuk, last year's winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, who was likewise
charged with a breach of Article 301 of the Criminal Code. The theory has been advanced that the men behind these crimes are active members of political parties and also maintain links with elements of the security forces.

The second theory is that the killers are gangs of youths who have been fanaticised through the Internet. Initial indications suggest that these youths are linked in a Web network and communicate with other ultra-nationalist circles. This scenario would make the situation even
more dangerous since it may be supposed that there are hundreds of these youth gangs throughout Turkey.

Whichever is the true scenario, it spells danger for all critical journalists, writers and politicians who have been charged or convicted under Article 301. Almost all of the journalists and writers who have been charged under Article 301 are given police protection ¬ and rightly so, for the
last article by Hrant Dink,

1
which was published in two parts in Agos on 12 and 19 January,
reveals how that provision has been putting journalists' lives at risk.

In his article, Hrant bemoans the fact that, in spite of the expert reports obtained by the court and contrary to the statement made by the public prosecutor, his accusers secured his conviction, and he was sentenced to six months in prison. This judgment, he said, hurt him, because it meant
that he had been wrongly convicted of `denigrating Turkishness'. He went on to describe how the trial had made him a target for ultra-nationalist factions. This frequent pattern in cases involving Article 301 is an important factor in the present debate, and for this reason we shall
briefly focus on it.

On 6 February 2004, Hrant had stated in a newspaper article that Sabiha Gökçen, the adopted daughter of Kemal Atatürk, had been of Armenian descent and that Atatürk had adopted her from an orphanage. As evidence, he accompanied the article with excerpts from his own
conversations with members of Sabiha Gökçen's family. A report on this article made front-
1
See annex, `The "pigeon skittishness" of my soul' ¬ Agos, 12 and 19 January 2007.
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4
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page headlines in one of the major national newspapers on 21 February 2004, triggering both a chorus of praise and a hail of condemnation. The fiercest criticism came from the general staff of the armed forces, who called Hrant's article a criminal act. As a result, he was called to the
office of the provincial governor and given a formal warning. Hrant Dink tried to point out that for him, as a journalist, discovering that Kemal Atatürk's adopted daughter was an Armenian girl was a big news story. For that reason, `instead of only discussing the Armenian question
through the dead', he had sought to discuss it `through living people and survivors too'. Hrant Dink concluded that it was even more difficult to involve survivors in the discussion.

In the days that followed, Agos became the target of ultra-nationalist demonstrations. Hrant Dink's speeches and writings were scrutinised. The "Great Jurists Association", another ultra-nationalist body, initiated proceedings against him on the basis of a sentence taken out of
context from an article that had appeared in Agos on 13 February 2004. The public prosecutor instituted proceedings under Article 301 of the Criminal Code. Contrary to all judicial logic, Hrant Dink was found guilty at every stage of the proceedings.

The succession of trials and appeals and the fact that he had to resort to the European Court of Human Rights weighed heavily on Hrant Dink. He felt persecuted and even threatened. He told his friends that he was afraid. His final article conveys a vivid impression of how he must have
felt during the last months of his life.

Hrant Dink's death has brought two important issues into the public spotlight in Turkey, namely the threat to freedom of expression and the Armenian question. The outpouring of sympathy and the throngs of people who paid their last respects to Hrant Dink mean that we must ensure that
these two issues are high on our agenda in the coming months and years.

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 PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 11:39 am    Post subject: Hrant Dink - Would Doves Still Flutter in Turkey Today? Reply with quote Back to top

January 31, 2007 | www.newropeans-magazine.org | Dr Harry Hagopian




Hrant Dink - Would Doves Still Flutter in Turkey Today?

Hrant Dink, the 52-year-old Armenian Turkish editor-in-chief of the bilingual weekly Agos (furrow, in Armenian) was murdered in cold blood on 19th January by the so-called ultra-nationalist teenager Ogun Samast from Trabzon. Hrant’s crime resided in his being an Armenian Turkish citizen from Istanbul who spoke out about the Armenian Genocide, pushed the boundaries of freedom of expression and often called for dialogue and reconciliation between Armenians and Turks.


Image I remember clearly how I first heard about this murder. Steve, a friend, texted me a short message in which he stated simply that “Dink was killed”. So befuddled was I that I texted back asking whether he meant “Hrant Dink”. Yes was the ominous answer, and with it came the realisation that another Armenian voice in Turkey had been muffled forever. After that initial shock, the tributes poured in from all quarters, from those who knew him or did not, from those who had liked him in the past or had not, and numerous articles were written about Dink and his mission. At his funeral, Turkish Istanbul transmogrified into Armenian Istanbul, and there was both a popular movement to show respect to Dink who had been cheated by the insidious angel of death and a rallying round his wife Rakel, their children and other members of his family.

I had met Dink twice only, so cannot claim to know him at all. For me, he was the man who had frequently ended up in Turkish courts after being indicted for “insulting Turkishness” according to Article 301 of the Turkish penal code. In fact, the last judgment against him was a suspended six-month sentence (meaning he would have been imprisoned if found guilty of the same offence again), although two more cases were pending in the Turkish judicial pipeline. It seems that just before Dink’s death, his lawyer Fethiye Çetin had also seised the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on his behalf.

So I set out to read some of his Agos editorials and listen to a couple of interviews he had given last year, including one to VEM in Armenia during the Armenia-Diaspora annual forum. My own mental portrait of this man is of someone who was embedded in his native Armenian Turkish homeland, culture, values and traditions, and who wished to stay in his country despite the ‘psychological torture’ he - and his family - were being subjected to from different corners. But there was also the winningly naïve side to this man that shone through - and possibly helped him surmount the enormous stress. For instance, in one of his vignettes, he writes that ‘my only weapon is my sincerity’, whereas in another he adds that ‘unfortunately, I am more popular nowadays and feel the look of the people telling each other: “Look, isn’t it that Armenian?” And just as a reflex action, I start to torture myself. One side of this torture is curiosity, the other uneasiness. One side is caution, the other side is skittishness.’ And with much foreboding, he concludes that ‘probably the year 2007 will be a more difficult year for me. Trials will continue, new cases will come up in court. Who knows what kind of injustice I will encounter?’

So why would a man with such a fervent wish for reconciliation who acknowledged the Armenian Genocide on the one hand whilst he also encouraged Armenians to bolster Armenia and Armenia-Turkey relations be murdered with such malice aforethought? And was Ogun Samast - besides the other six suspects who were detained, one of whom having apparently incited the killing - a lone culprit in committing this murder? Or is Turkey in its institutional sense also guilty of this crime?

What struck me most in the wake of Dink’s murder were the conciliatory gestures between Turkey and Armenia, let alone the throngs of people who gathered spontaneously in front of the Agos building or walked at his funeral. Despite the fact that Armenia and Turkey entertain no diplomatic relations, and that Turkey has kept the Armenian-Turkish border sealed since 1993, Armenia sent its deputy foreign minister, Arman Kirakosyan, to attend the funeral. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, from the eastern diocese of the Armenian Church of America, also attended the interment. Those and other gestures - the write-ups, the interviews, the popular rallies, the representations, and the statements from ordinary Turks or Armenians as well as from officialdom - together represented hopeful stations at a painful moment of history for both peoples.

For the space of one moment, I actually felt that common humanity and mutual solidarity had transcended the deep furrows cleaving both peoples’ lives. But although such decent gestures were indeed promising and healthy, I fear that they remain ephemeral in the present climate. Besides, they do not facilely exonerate Turkey. Why? Simply because successive Turkish governments - including the incumbent government of Reçep Teyyip Erdogan and his Justice & Development party - have nourished [rather than challenged] the culture of fear, intimidation and persecution within Turkey against those who protest the injustices and discrimination that are still part and parcel of everyday Turkey today. It is true that the chief culprit for the recent spate of persecutions (from which Dink suffered during his latter years, as have others like Ragip Zarakolu, Orhan Pamuk, Elif Shafak and Murat Belge) is the notorious Article 301 of the Turkish penal code. After all, this Article has incited virulent negative nationalism within some Turkish ranks and led to its judicial misapplication time and again by nationalist lawyers the likes of the ubiquitous leader of the Turkish Lawyers’ Union Kemal Kerincsiz who are hell-bent on keeping Turkey out of the EU and in the process also vilifying anybody who dared speak about the Armenian Genocide.

Following Dink’s murder, the parliamentary chairman of the ruling party Bulent Arinç stated that he would back efforts to abolish Article 301 - adding that members of Parliament were open to its total abolition or complete revision. But I would argue that such sanguine statements become redundant if they are devoid of any concrete strategy that is matched by equally concrete steps. For Turkey to move forward in its broader EU-friendly agenda, it must not only repeal this article or - more likely - tinker with it in order to make it harder for courts to apply it. Rather, Turkey must invest in this grassroots wave of goodwill to push through a reformist and forward-looking agenda that tackles a host of issues (defined in the Chapters under negotiation with the EU) and create a suitably EU-friendly legal environment. Otherwise, how could it aspire toward accession when its standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms, for instance, do not subscribe to the normative values of the free world? To take one simple illustration, how is it that Hrant Dink (alongside other Armenians in Turkey) was disallowed from using his first name in his passport, but had to use his designated official Turkish name of Firat instead?

One elegiac reflection to Dink came from Dr Fatma Müge Goçek who wrote In Memoriam: Hrant Dink, 1954-2007:

* How had Hrant Dink achieved, how he had managed to overcome that ever-consuming, destructive, dangerous anger to fill himself instead with so much love and hope for humanity, for Turkish society, for Turkish-Armenian reconciliation? How could he have done so in spite of the memory of 1915 and in spite of the subsequent prejudice and discrimination he faced in Turkey?

* It was for me that particular quality which made Hrant Dink a great human being and a great role model: his unwavering belief in the fundamental goodness of all humans regardless of their race, ethnic origin, regardless of what they had personally or communally experienced; his unwavering vision that we in Turkey were going to one day be able to finally confront our past and come to terms without faults, mistakes and violence as well as our so brandied about virtues; his unwavering trust that we all would manage to live together in peace one day.


Addressing issues of ethnicity, Dink often emphasised that identities need not be mutually incompatible. As an Armenian from Turkey, he considered himself a good Turkish citizen, believed in the republic and strove to make it stronger and more democratic. He also encouraged people to keep the dialogue between Armenians and Turks going, just as he sought to redress Turkey’s amnesia about its role in the slaughter of over one million Armenians in 1915. In promoting freedom of speech, even when it came to a subject as sensitive as the genocide, he was still even-handed and stressed that legislation in Western European countries outlawing the denial of this holocaust was also an affront to free speech. Yet, his liberal philosophy antagonised those who adhere to the belief that nationalities are hermetically sealed and mutually opposed.
Addressing issues of ethnicity, Dink often emphasised that identities need not be mutually incompatible. As an Armenian from Turkey, he considered himself a good Turkish citizen, believed in the republic and strove to make it stronger and more democratic. He also encouraged people to keep the dialogue between Armenians and Turks going, just as he sought to redress Turkey’s amnesia about its role in the slaughter of over one million Armenians in 1915. In promoting freedom of speech, even when it came to a subject as sensitive as the genocide, he was still even-handed and stressed that legislation in Western European countries outlawing the denial of this holocaust was also an affront to free speech. Yet, his liberal philosophy antagonised those who adhere to the belief that nationalities are hermetically sealed and mutually opposed.

In Turkey today, there is clear pressure for reform from the EU as well as from some intellectual resources within Turkey. In my opinion, this battle for reform - and that would include historical memory in my own thinking - has not yet seriously impacted Turkey’s stance toward the genocide. In fact, I am not even sure that Dink’s murder would lead to more openness for recognition. Whether it is due to rabid nationalism, a fear of facing up to the past with its gruesome conclusions, or even possible reparations and restitution, Turkey today is still entrenched in a denial that is fomenting hatred, violence and homicide. Dink, who described himself as an optimist, often voiced the opinion that such recognition would happen - but later rather than sooner. However, he also thought that the pressures for reform, just like those for recognition, should come from the bottom up, rather than imposed from the top. This is perhaps why it is vital to try and encourage ordinary Turks to come face-to-face with their history, wrestle with it, and liberate themselves - and Armenians - from its debilitating hold. As the prize-winning Turkish author Kemal Yalçin stated once, I bow to the memory of Armenians and Assyrians who lost their lives on the road of deportation through planned killings. This is the great pain of our century, the stigma on the face of humanity. Your pain is my pain. I beg forgiveness from you and from mankind. This will not be easy, or quick, especially when the country and its press are still muzzled by noxious laws that oppose transparency. But it must be facilitated - or at least not opposed - by the top echelons. This is where Turkey today is also failing: denialist groups, such as the Association on Struggle Against Armenian Genocide Acknowledgement, should no longer be permitted to control the future agenda of civil society so the legal and political cultures of Turkey would transform gradually and Armenians, let alone Assyrians, Kurds and other minorities, could move forward in their legitimate quest for fundamental freedoms, rights and claims.

In an editorial, Dink described himself as a restless dove, adding that he was confident the people in Turkey would not touch or disturb doves. But a criminal hand both touched and disturbed this dove. Still, once the immediacy of his murder wanes from our short memories, we should not lose sight of the fact that he lost his life for his peaceful but insistent quest for inclusiveness, dialogue, recognition and reconciliation. I therefore suggest it is the duty of every Armenian and Turk to follow the optimistic path he charted in order to exorcise the ghosts of the past, build bridges for the future and pave the way toward mutual understanding. We witnessed an unusual glimpse of such optimism last week, so could we possibly try to help recreate it? Could we perhaps prove that doves would still flutter in Turkey today?

Dr Harry Hagopian
International Lawyer & Political Analyst
London (UK) © harry-bvH 31/01/2007
 
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 PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 8:21 pm    Post subject: Hrant Dink and the Armenians in Turkey Reply with quote Back to top

March 13, 2007 | AZG Armenian Daily | Cambridge | Hratch Tchilingirian

By Hratch Tchilingirian, associate director of the Eurasia Research
Programme at the Judge Business School, Cambridge University


Hrant Dink and the Armenians in Turkey

The assassination of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink on 19 January 2007 and its aftermath highlighted both change and resistance to change in Turkish society. To understand how far Turkey has traveled in the past generation, Hratch Tchilingirian examines the role of Hrant Dink himself in the context of the Armenian community of which he was voice, critic, and emblem.

On 18 October 1994 a press conference called by the then Patriarch of the Armenian Church, Karekin Kazanjian, was held at the Armenian patriarchate in Kumkapi, Istanbul. It was organized to correct what the church saw as misinformation amounting to a slander campaign against the Armenian Church in particular and the Armenian community in Turkey in general. The "highlight" of this campaign was an attempt by the patriarchate to voice protest against false, even lethal, accusations in Turkish media and political circles that Armenian clergymen were supporting Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists in their secessionist struggle against the Turkish state.

A photograph allegedly depicting an Armenian priest in the company of PKK leader Abdullah ¦µcalan, widely distributed on posters, was a key instrument of these accusations. Indeed, shouted slogans such as Apo, Ermeni pici ("Apo [¦µcalan's nickname], Armenian bastard") were at the time commonly heard during nationalist demonstrations and street protests.

The patriarchate's communiqu¨¦ on the matter categorically denied the existence of any ties between the Armenian community in Turkey and any terrorist organization, and explained that the priest in the relevant photo was not a cleric of the Armenian Church. The document went on to condemn such anti-Armenian insinuations in both print and broadcast media, expressing the serious concern that such false rumors, assumptions and misrepresentations were endangering the Armenian community in Turkey and making the lives of individual Armenians difficult.

The press conference - attended by some seventy Turkish and foreign journalists - was a tense affair.

Several journalists harassed the patriarch with presumptuous questions laced with innuendo about contentious issues, including the PKK and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (Asala) - a small, Lebanon-based terrorist group that had killed thirty-four Turks (mainly diplomats) between 1975 and 1983, mainly in Western Europe. (Asala had no presence, links or any type of backing among Armenians in Turkey, and minimal support even among Diaspora Armenians).

As the interrogators became increasingly belligerent, a tall figure forced himself into the heart of the journalistic m¦Êl¦Ee. "As a member of the patriarchate's press office, I would like to answer that question", Hrant Dink announced. He continued:

"Respectable representatives of the press, we are trying to shake off from our shoulders a discomfort which causes pressure. It is for this reason that we are trying to voice our protest against a false claim.

Apart from that, all your questions have been answered many times before. The Armenians of Turkey are not terrorists and they have never provided aid to terrorism, from whichever direction that may come.

>>From now on too, this is the way it is going to be.

Armenians will never support terrorism. As citizens of this country, we would like to live in peace and tranquility. This is the message of this press conference. ... The Armenians, all Armenians in the world, especially Armenians in Turkey, at this moment have only one preoccupation: peace, peace, and peace" (see Marmara [Istanbul], 19 October 1994).

This was the moment Hrant Dink fully entered public life. The occasion, the pressure, the times themselves were such that he chose - publicly, confidently and courageously - to address the "discomforts" and "burdens" put upon his community by the state and a highly politicized media. It was the moment Hrant Dink openly began to deal with the dilemma of being simultaneously a citizen of one country, Turkey, while being part of another nation, Armenia.

A time of silence

It was never going to be easy, for the challenge was at once institutional, legal, and political.

The Armenian community, like that of other minorities in Turkey, experienced shame, humiliation, harassment and intimidation across the long decades from the 1950s to the 1990s without being able to speak up in its defense - and in a very different atmosphere to later controversies over Article 301 and even minimal debate about the genocide of 1915. The Armenian community in Turkey in this period was characterized by its reclusive existence and collective silence.

The defining institutions of the Armenian community in Turkey were and are the church and the school. Both faced (and face) perennial problems that kept Hrant Dink and his colleagues awake at night. The interference and heavy-handedness of the Turkish government in the Armenian community's process of electing a patriarch (in 1990, and again in 1998) were among the arduous legal problems enmeshing this key Armenian body. On the second occasion Hrant wrote:

"We are sad ... The (Armenian) community is deeply hurt by the uncertainty created by the escalation of the senseless crisis about the election of an acting patriarch. These are trying days ... We are observing with shame" (see "Uzgunuz", Agos, 21 August 1998).

The situation with the Armenian schools was (and is) no better. Hrant wrote many columns about the state of Armenian schools in Turkey, and took special interest in their administration. While criticizing his own community for its shortcomings, he also berated the Turkish government for imposing numerous administrative restrictions on minority (and not only Armenian) schools.

Hrant passionately recorded the constant indignities experienced by Armenian educators. In August 1998 he wrote:

"If I am not mistaken, it was three years ago ... One of the vice-directors of the ministry of national education's Istanbul office - who was later convicted of corruption and bribe-taking - said the following to the "vice-principals" he appointed (whom the minority schools call "Turkish vice-principals"): "You are our eyes and ears ... You are to inform us of even the minutest mistakes that these people make." He said this in the presence of the minority school principals, with total disregard for their dignity and common courtesy.

"... And what was I fantasizing all these years ...

With my 45-year-old brain, I was thinking: 'would, one day, a minister of national education start the ceremony for the new school year in a minority school?' Sweet thoughts ... My na¦Ïvet¦E ... Sorry ..." (see "Kinkel ve Valilik", Agos, 21 August 1998 - translated excerpts posted on www.groong.com).

A voice of dignity

Hrant Dink and his colleagues were symbols as well as agents of change in relation to the Armenian community in Turkey. They were determined to express the indignation and resentment they experienced as citizens of the Republic of Turkey. If society and the political system did not allow them to voice their fears, concerns, and hopes for their community and for Turkey, the silence surrounding them - they believed - must be made audible.

It was to a large extent this combination - of the hunger to speak and the desire to address the "existential" problems surrounding the Armenian church and educational establishments - that sparked the creation of the bilingual weekly newspaper Agos in April 1996.

The five colleagues who founded Agos were: Diran Bakar, a lawyer; Luiz Bakar, also a lawyer and (since 1994) the spokesperson of the patriarchate; Harutiun Sesetian, a businessman; Anna Turay, a public-relations professional; and Hrant Dink, who at the time owned a bookshop.

The founding members - as is the case with any equivalent innovative project - were to have their differences in subsequent years. But at its heart, Agos (and Hrant in particular) remained consistent in the effort to open channels of communication and dialogue between the reclusive - and at times isolated - Armenian community and Turkish society.

Hrant defined one of the newspaper's purposes as "(trying) to identify and explain our problems to the government and to Turkish society", while acknowledging that "because of this, we sometimes have problems" (Armenian International Magazine, 11/3, March 2000). His core belief was that prejudices could be overcome by education and dialogue.

The target of this education and dialogue was not just misunderstanding and prejudice in Turkish society, but the Armenian community itself. Hrant's critical discourse about the Armenian community, and especially the Armenian patriarchate, was unpopular, costing him supporters and even friends.

In June 2001, for example, on the occasion of the 1,700th anniversary of Armenian Christianity, he wrote: "The Armenian Church has suffered divisions throughout history and it is evident that it has not learned from its own history. The 'one nation - one church' rule, which has been repeated almost everywhere during these last years, is nothing but a slogan void of content" (see "Spiritual Chess", Agos, 1 June 2004 - translated from Turkish by Anahit Dagci).

At the same time, many found his passion, genuine concern and sincerity disarming. Most people in the Armenian community saw Agos as a courageous publication where issues related to Armenian identity and community were discussed with refreshing openness, reason and a genuine desire to build bridges across large divides - whether within Turkey, with Armenia or with the Diaspora.

In the course of this work, Hrant came to a profound realization: that the resolution of the problems of the Armenian community in Turkey was intimately related to the progress of tolerance, democracy and freedom in Turkey.

Armenians, here and there

Dogu Ergil observed after Hrant's death that he had "aimed to promote the idea that there are other ethnic-cultural groups in Turkey than Turks and Muslims, and (that) they can very well blend into the nation cleansed of stereotypes and biases". Hrant wanted, said Ergil, to "defend Armenians against majority fanaticism in Turkey and to defend Turks/Turkey against the fanaticism and hypocrisy of foreigners and Diaspora Armenians" (see "Hrant Dink: Requiem to a Lesser Turkey", EU Turkey Civic Commission, 25 January 2007).

In recent years, the "Armenian issue" - as the problem of the genocide is referred to in Turkey - had indeed become a central theme in Hrant's public discourse.

The centrality of the "Armenian issue", in fact, has come to cast a shadow over the other problems of the Armenian community in Turkey: ownership of property, community foundations, education of clergy, school administration, and church elections among them. (Why, for example, should the affairs of minorities in Turkey still be "administered" by Turkey's council of ministers, interior ministry, the security and intelligence agencies, and the foreign ministry?).

If the central, heated question of genocide came to dominate discussion of Armenians and Turkey, it is one that Hrant Dink and a considerable segment of the Armenian Diaspora could not agree on. On the eve of the 24 April commemorations in 2002 , for example, he addressed members of the Armenian Diaspora in France in an interview with L'Express newspaper.

"Do not seek Armenian identity among the 1915 graves", he advised. "I am ready to discuss all issues with you ... I am proud to be a Turkish Armenian. I want to represent, with my newspaper, the rebirth of this society. Armenia will never be safe unless Turkey achieves democratization. I believe Turkey may be a chance for that young state which is on the brink of drowning. Tomorrow, thanks to Turkey, Armenia will get the chance to become neighbors with the European Union. Turkey is Armenia's only chance" (Turkish Daily News, 23 April 2002).

More than the semantics of the issue, Hrant's approach to the issue of 1915 and Turkey-Armenia relations focused on the substance of reconciliation. "I know what happened to my grandparents", he told AFP. "It does not matter what you called it: genocide, massacres or deportation" (Agence France Presse, 8 October 2000). Hrant strongly believed - to the dismay of many in the Diaspora - that the more essential thing was to influence Turkish public opinion. "The winning of the empathy and compassion of the Turkish population is far more important than the adoption of Armenian resolutions in hundreds of parliaments elsewhere".

Hrant spent considerable time and energy in seeking to persuade the Diaspora that there is a new dynamic and a new openness in Turkey, involving an unprecedented interest in and discussion of Armenian issues. He said that "this process has been developing very slowly, just like the democratization of Turkey", in a way that encouraged him to believe that "the taboo (of 1915) too will be broken".

Yet anyone who is familiar with "breaking taboos" in Turkey knows the extreme dangers involved in such a process. Hrant himself was well aware of the possible consequences: "We never deny our own history. But Armenians (in Turkey) are unable to discuss it for fear it will harm the community's existence" (see Ayla Jean Yackley, "Turks confront dark chapter of Armenian massacres", Reuters, 26 April 2005).

In his response to this predicament, Hrant displayed one of his largest virtues: courage. As he wrote in open Democracy in 2005:

"Where fear is dominant, it produces symptoms of resistance to change at all levels of society. The more some people yearn and work for openness and enlightenment, the more others who are afraid of such changes struggle to keep society closed. In Turkey, the legal cases against Hrant Dink, Orhan Pamuk, Ragip Zarakolu or Murat Belge are examples of how the breaking of every taboo causes panic in the end. This is especially true of the Armenian issue: the greatest of all taboos in Turkey, one that was present at the creation of the state and which represents the principal "other" of Turkish national identity" ("The water finds its crack: an Armenian in Turkey", 13 December 2005).

Hrant Dink "was Turkey in its complexity", wrote Dogu Ergil. "He was a Turk against Armenian extremism and an Armenian against Turkish extremism."

The day of Hrant Dink's funeral was the evidence of how far Turkey had traveled since that press conference at Istanbul's Patriarchate in 1994. More than twelve years on, the Ermeni pic epithet hurled by nationalists was overtaken by the cries of Hepimiz Ermeniz ("We are all Armenians!") in the throats of tens of thousands of Turks. Hrant himself , in his life as much as his death, had played an enormous role in bringing about that change. He opened the door to a future that Armenians and Turks must find together.
 
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 PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:
PanARMENIAN.Net
16.03.2007 15:15 GMT+04:00

Dink family lawyers accuse Turkish police of complicity in journalist's murder

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The lawyers of Dink's family demand a legal
investigation against those officials who were accessories to the
crime, said lawyer Bahir Bayrams Belen. Another lawyer Fetye Cetin
submitted a copy of the document in which the Trabzon police informed
their Istanbul counterparts of the planned murder.


Furthermore, 17 analogous applications were addressed to the Istanbul
police as well. `All this proves it was not neglect or forgetfulness
but direct complicity of the authorities in the crime,' she said,
reports RFE/RL.
 
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 PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 3:26 pm    Post subject: Rakel Dink Adresses the Court Reply with quote Back to top

July 3, 2007 | BIA News Center | Istanbul


Rakel Dink Adresses the Court
Rakel DINK - Your Honour the President of the Court and the Honorable Judges,


My story begins with the Armenian Varto tribe which is one of the 1915 leftovers. I was born in 1959 into the Armenian Varto tribe which was in Mardin borders; in Sirnak district now. Today the town is called Yolagzi. The name Varto omes from my grand grandfather's name, Vartan. The remaining of the tribe migrated to İstanbul in 1978. Until migration, their life in the village, and then in the city was spent by struggling at the courts against the fraud deeds that the landlords of the neighboring villages manufactured. These neighbor villages were built on our lands.

They were beaten, wounded and miraculously survived murder attempts. My father lived an honorable life without denying his roots and religion. He passed away in Brussels three years ago, with his mind and soul worried about his land, of which the trials still continue. His children promised him that they would continue the struggle. He never acted cowardly, was never lazy, never laid an evil eye on other's work and never imposed us with animosity.

I met with my beloved husband, whom I used to call Çutag, Hrant Dink in a boarding school we grew up together we got married. They stripped up our boarding school from us. With the help of Jesus Christ we overcame all the obstacles, hardships. We were worried at the problems of our country together. And now, I cry with a deep sadness.

Until today we were treated humiliated, insulted for being Armenians; we heard people use Armenian as a curse. We heard it and we still hear it from the newspapers, TVs, birth registration offices; from public servants to the highest authorities. Sometimes we were treated as if we were not citizens of this country, but migrants from somewhere else. We still witness all these and this structuring and this understanding; this darkness continues to create murderer from babies.

Verse 21:3 says "God wishes rightfullness and justice rather than sacrifices. Today, we see the babies who became murderers here; where is the darkness that created them?

The darkness I point to is not anyone unknown. You can find pieces of this darkness in Governorship, in Gendarmarie, in Armed Forces, in National Intelligence Agency, in Police, in Government, in Opposition Part, in parties that do not have a seat in the parliament, and even in the media and the non-governmental organizations. Their names, their positions are known. They continuously create murderers from babies and they do it to serve Turkey.

We have seen them in front of AGOS right after the Sabiha Gokcen article and in front of the court houses where my husband was being tried. But for some reason, justice and judiciary cannot reach to them, do not want to reach to them. Because, they know that if they dig further they will see that this darkness exists in them also.

Therefore, if you are not from this darkness and do not approve it, do not agree with them be courageous enough to go deeper and pull down all the barriers that was put on this case. Be the instrument of the God's justice; so that Turkey can be happy and this becomes the starting point of bright days for Turkey.

Your Honor, my husband was tried for he wrote, for he thought and spoke. As an innocent man, due to this understanding of the state he was found guilty. I believe that the expressions of the state bears separatism, insult, degradation; it encourages and multiplies the baby murderers. In short, the source of this spring is the perception and discourse. I am compliant against this discourse and the to the ones who speak it out.

I, as a member of the people who live on this soil since Noah, want to feel and see my children and myself as Armenian Turkish citizens, as equal citizens.

Our proverb says "One who denies his origin is a siner". What would you expect from the one who denies or hides his origin? How can you establish a strong building, a good character over a faulty base? I ask you, can you trust him? Does it mean that we are enemies for not denying our origin?

My beloved husband worked hard, never lied, never acted unjustly, never said a word against his country either here or abroad. He was a defender of truth and he lived as a true son and a true citizen. In return, he received the traitors bullet.

Whatever the justice you will see fit, it will not bring my husband back. None of the rulings will be as equal as my loss of my husband. If the justice is the foundation of the land, then I am in search of this justice. I want Turkey to build upon this base. I want to see it not in words, I want to see it in daily life, in discourse. Therefore, I demand that all the responsible ones and the authorities declare: "we could not, we did not want to protect your husband, our citizen. We knowingly committed a crime, we apologize."

I demand from honorable court which is the representative of the state that all the criminals receive the punishment they deserve. I feel no hatred to any of them; on the contrary I find all of them miserable and I feel pity for them. I pray mercy for them with the love and justice of Jesus Christ, one who knows all, sees all. I wish that with the help of the Holy Spirit, they can feel that they need this mercy. And I request that you act and decide in line with your responsibility.

With my due respect, (RD/ÖD/EÜ)

* Translated from Turkish by Özlem Dalkıran.
 
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 PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:31 pm    Post subject: Dink's Murder Was 'Planned by a Bigger Network' Reply with quote Back to top

July 9, 2007 | Spiegel Online



Dink's Murder Was 'Planned by a Bigger Network'

Etygen Mahcupyan, the editor-in-chief of the Armenian-Turkish weekly Agos, spoke to DER SPIEGEL about the trial of the alleged killers of his predecessor Hrant Dink.

The Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was gunned down on Jan. 19 this year. Now, six months later, the trial of his alleged killer and 17 other suspects has started. The trial is being carried out behind closed doors because the accused gunman, Ogün Samast, is a minor.

Dink was hated by ultranationalists for describing the mass killing of Armenians in the early part of the 20th century as genocide. He was prosecuted for his comments under Article 301 of Turkey's penal code, which bans insults to Turkish identity.

Critics have accused the authorities of failing to act on reports of a plot to kill Dink. Two of the suspects, Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, even claim they were working for the security forces. The current case is seen as an important test of whether the Turkish judiciary is capable of investigating claims of official negligence.

DER SPIEGEL spoke to Etyen Mahcupyan, Dink's successor as editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos about the trial.

SPIEGEL: The trial against Dink's alleged 17-year-old murderer and his accomplices has started. But now the investigation is to be continued. Were there other people involved?

Etyen Mahcupyan: This type of attack must have been prepared by a bigger network than just the gang that is currently on trial. There had to be political connections, people who pulled strings, paid money or laid the ideological groundwork. So far only two members of the nationalist Great Unity Party (BBP) have been charged.

SPIEGEL: One of the accused claims that they were controlled by a group within the police force.

Mahcupyan: A number of police officers knew what was going to happen. But they didn't prevent the murder. Were they acting of their own accord, or did someone give them orders? That is unclear.

[image]People demonstrate near the court in Istanbul where the Dink murder trial is being held.

SPIEGEL: What was the perpetrator's motive?

Mahcupyan: There is a link here between ultra-nationalism and criminal gangs. The aim was probably to cause unrest in the election year with the intention of torpedoing Turkey's chances of joining the European Union. Presumably a whole series of attacks was planned, but the public reaction was too strong to go ahead with them.

SPIEGEL: In general, politically motivated crimes are seldom solved in Turkey. Will it be different this time?

Mahcupyan: In the past the judges were usually afraid to take risks. None of them wanted to expose the links between the military, the government and the judiciary. But in this case there is the potential to really get to the bottom of things. The judges are flexible and are working with the lawyers.

SPIEGEL: You are Dink's successor as editor-in-chief at Agos. Are you and your colleagues still being threatened?

Mahcupyan: Yes, but that is the usual hatred that we have to face. The Armenian community and their patriarch often receive threats from the nationalists as well.

SPIEGEL: Dink was pulled up before judges on several occasions because of his articles. Have you also been hampered in your work?

Mahcupyan: Not at the moment, but if it were politically desired then someone could find an old article and file charges. I have already been put on trial for allegedly insulting state institutions.

Interview conducted by Annette Grossbongardt
 
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 PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:01 am    Post subject: Parliament committee confirms neglect in Dink murder Reply with quote Back to top

July 24, 2008 | Turkish Daily News | Ankara

Parliament committee confirms neglect in Dink murder

A parliamentary subcommittee investigating the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink confirmed that there was negligence and a lack of coordination by both the gendarmerie and police, in a report released yesterday.

“Hrant Dink was killed due to negligence of authorities at every level in introducing measures to prevent the threat,” said the committee's long-awaited report, which was presented yesterday in a press conference at parliament. Thus, Article 17 of the Constitution regulating “right to life” and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights were violated due to negligence, the report concluded.

The chairman of the subcommittee, Mehmet Ocaktan, Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Istanbul deputy, said the committee only investigates if there is some wrongdoing in the administrative process, but they are not responsible for solving the murder.

Ocaktan declined to respond to questions regarding a recent decision by an Istanbul court disallowing any investigation of the police officers, including Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah. “Our report does not contain allegations against persons. The judicial process is going on. At this stage, we do not have the right to ask questions on who was accused of what,” Ocaktan argued.

The subcommittee pointed to controversies related to Dink's assassination and argued that intelligence received prior to the murder was not taken into consideration despite the seriousness of the threats. Trabzon police were accused of sending a document dated Feb. 17, 2006 that included intelligence on possible effective action against the Armenian community and a violent threat against Dink's life.

Noting that there was still an ongoing investigation into the case, the sub-committee said it is too early to reach a conclusion about whether an effective official investigation has been carried out or not.

The 180-page report proposed a list of measures to counter possible future threats in situations similar to Dink's. “Degree of confidentiality and urgency of the documents must be clearly noted. All intelligence regardless of the content should be reported and inserted to the central data bank. A system to record all supportive intelligence sources needs to be established,” the report noted.

The report also underlined that civilian authorities must be notified of all intelligence and any activity by security forces in their jurisdiction. Increasing the number of police officers in Istanbul and granting special duty benefits to junior office staff were also among the recommendations.

© 2008 Dogan Daily News Inc. www.turkishdailynews.com.tr
 
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