Hrant Dink

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Birthplace Malatya
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Education Istanbul University
Profession Newspaper editor
Languages Armenian, Turkish, English
Ethnicities Armenian
Dialects Western Armenian
Ancestral villages Malatia
Spouses Rakel
Children Arat Dink

Hrant Dink (September 15, 1954 - January 19, 2007) was born in Malatya. Dink was best known for his role as editor of 'Agos' Turkish and Armenian Language weekly in Istanbul. He worked as the columnist and editor-in chief of AGOS weekly newspaper, which can be regarded as the voice of Armenian community, from 1996 until January 19, 2007 when he was shot dead outside of his office.

At the age of seven, he migrated to İstanbul together with his family. In Istanbul, his parents got divorced and he was raised by the Armenian Orphanage in Gedikpasa, Istanbul with his 2 siblings.

He got his primary and secondary education in Armenian schools. Immediately after secondary school, he got married to Rakel, a childhood friend from the orphanage. Hrant finished the Istanbul University's Science Faculty with a degree in zoology. Hrant served 8 months with the Turkish Naval Infantry Regiment in Denizli to satisfy his mandatory military service. He had three children with his wife.

He graduated from Zoology Department of İstanbul University’s Science Faculty. Then he continued his education at Philosophy Department of the same university’s Literature Faculty for a while.

He started to publish the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper AGOS on April 5, 1996 to establish a bridge of communication and understanding between the larger Turkish population and the Turkish-Armenian community which he complained was living too isolated an existence. He tried to make AGOS newspaper a democrat and oppositional voice of Turkey and also to share the injustices done to Armenian community with public opinion.

One of the major aims of the newspaper is to contribute to dialogue between Turkish and Armenian nations and also between Turkey and Armenia.

He took part in various democratic platforms and civil society organizations.

He was charged and convicted of insulting Turkishness in Turkey, charges which he denied.

After his high profile trial, he was targeted by Turkish nationalists and murdered by gunshot to the head as he left his office. His son Arat now runs Agos and is now on trial for insulting Turkishness.

Contents

Chronology of Events

People protesting Hrant Dink's murder.

Sabina is Armenian

6 February 2004 The Agos newspaper publishes the account of Hripsime Gazalyan, an Armenian from Gaziantep (south-east Turkey), who says that Turkey's first woman pilot Sabiha Gökcen was an Armenian orphan who was adopted after the events of 1915.

24 February 2004 Editor-in-chief Hrant Dink is called to the Istanbul Governor's Office, where it is said that he was threatened by two people in the presence of the vice-governor.

Poisoning effect in your blood

Dink wrote a series of articles in which he called on diaspora Armenians to stop focusing on the Turks and focus instead on the welfare of Armenia, said Karin Karakaþlý, an editor at Agos newspaper. Karakaþlý said Dink told Armenians their enmity toward the Turks "has a poisoning effect in your blood." She said the court took the article out of context, wrongly assuming it meant that Turkish blood is poison.

25 February 2004 One day later, following the complaint of one Mehmet Soykan to the Sisli Public Prosecutor's Office, Hrant Dink is accused of "degrading Turkishness" (Article 301) in another of his articles.

Public threats

26 February 2004 A group of people who identify themselves as members of the nationalist "hearth of ideals" (Ülkü Ocaklary) congregates in front of the Agos newspaper Office, shouting threatening slogans and holding placards, saying things such as "Be careful", "you will be held accountable" and "your hand will be broken".

Conviction under Article 301

On October 7, 2005 Hrant Dink was convicted under article 301 of the penal code of insulting Turkishness, charges that Dink said he would fight, adding that he would leave the country if they were not overturned. He was convicted and given a six-month suspended sentence, which means he will not be forced to serve prison time unless he repeats the offense. Dink has lived in Turkey all his life and was shown on television in tears as he denied the charges and vowed to fight them.

"I'm living together with Turks in this country," Dink told The Associated Press. "And I'm in complete solidarity with them. I don't think I could live with an identity of having insulted them in this country."

The court said Dink's article "was not an expression of opinion with the aim of criticizing but was intended to be insulting and offensive."

Dink, speaking in Turkish, said the sentence was an attempt to silence him.

"But I will not be silent," he said. "As long as I live here, I will go on telling the truth, just as I always have." Dink said he would appeal to Turkey's supreme court and to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

"If it is a day or six months or six years, it is all unacceptable to me," he said. "If I am unable to come up with a positive result, it will be honorable for me to leave this country."

Source: "Dink convicted of insulting Turkish identity", Turkish Daily News, Oct 8 2005

Poisoning part 2

December, 2005 a Turkish court opened a case against an Armenian-Turkish journalist for his comments on a six-month sentence it gave him earlier for denigrating Turkish identity.

The Istanbul court was acting after a group of nationalist lawyers asked the court to file a case against Hrant Dink, editor in chief of the bilingual Turkish and Armenian weekly Agos, and three Agos journalists, saying that the journalists "tried to influence the judiciary" through their editorials.

The case was sent to the Court of Appeals.

The nationalist Lawyers Unity Association asked the court to bring the case against the four journalists, who face jail terms of nine months to 4½ years, if convicted.

"The case has been opened because Dink and the other writers of the Armenian Agos publication have criticized a former sentence of the court in an effort to prevent a just lawsuit, which is against Article 288 of the code," said the leader of the association, Kemal Kerincsiz.

Mr. Dink told the Anka news agency that it was his right to criticize the earlier verdict, adding he would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if the Court of Appeals upholds the court ruling.

Source: "Turkey Brings Another Case Against An Ethnic Armenian", Reuters/New York Times on Dec 26 2005

More threats

2 February 2006 Together with his lawyer, Hrant Dink applies to the Sisli Public Prosecutor's Office for an investigation into a threatening letter he received from one Ahmet Demir, resident in Bursa, who said "your end has come, first we will kill your son and then you".

Happy is one who calls himself a Turk

Dink was tried in 2006 for remarks he made at a human rights conference in 2002, criticizing Turkey's national anthem and an oath taken by Turkish schoolchildren each day in which they say, "Happy is one who calls himself/herself a Turk.'

Dink said then that he did not feel like a Turk but like an Armenian who happens to be a citizen of Turkey. He also objected at the time to a line in the national anthem that says "smile upon my heroic race," saying the emphasis on race was a form of discrimination.

Hrant Dink faced up to three years in prison if found guilty by the court in the southeastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa where the conference on minorities and human rights was held.

AFP worded this differently:

Dink, who was not present at the first hearing, told AFP from his office in Istanbul that he believed the suit stemmed from his response to a question on what he felt when, at primary school, he had to take an oath with which elementary school days begin in Turkey. The patriotic verse which all students in Turkey have to memorize and recite begins with the lines: "I am a Turk, I am honest, I am hardworking".
"I said that I was a Turkish citizen but an Armenian and that even though I was honest and hardworking, I was not a Turk, I was an Armenian," Dink explained. He said he also criticized a line in the Turkish national anthem that speaks of "my heroic race".
"I said I did not feel like singing that line because I was against the use of the word 'race', which leads to discrimination," Dink said.

Shot dead

Copyright AP

In his last column for Agos, Dink complained that he had become famous as an enemy of Turks and wrote of threats against him. He said he had received no protection from authorities despite his complaints.

"My computer's memory is loaded with sentences full of hatred and threats," Dink wrote. "I do not know how real these threats are, but what’s really unbearable is the psychological torture that I’m living in. I am just like a pigeon ... I look around to my left and right, in front and behind me as much as it does. My head is just as active... but I also know that in this country, they love pigeons and do not shoot them." Unfortunately, some extremist nationalists have proven him to be false.

Dink ended his last column by predicting that 2007 would be a difficult year, but that he would survive it.

"For me, 2007 is likely to be a hard year. The trials will continue, new ones will be started. Who knows what other injustices I will be up against," he wrote.

Candles burnt by mourners outside Western Diocese of the United States, the night of the murder, 1/19/07.
Assassinated

By Paul de Bendern and Thomas Grove

ISTANBUL, Jan 19 (Reuters) - A high-profile Turkish-Armenian editor, convicted of insulting Turkey's identity, was shot dead outside his newspaper office in Istanbul on Friday.

Hrant Dink, a frequent target of nationalist anger for his comments on the Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Turks during World War One, was shot as he left his weekly Agos around 1300 GMT in central Istanbul.

"A bullet has been fired at democracy and freedom of expression. I condemn the traitorous hands behind this disgraceful murder," Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said.

"This was an attack on our peace and stability."

Erdogan told a hastily called news conference in Ankara that two people had been detained in connection with the murder.

The attack is bound to raise political tensions in would-be EU member Turkey, where politicians of all parties have been courting the nationalist vote ahead of presidential elections in May and parliamentary polls due by November.

Turkey's main stock market index fell sharply on the news.

NTV television said Dink had been shot three times in the head and neck.

Muharrem Gozutok, a restaurant owner near the newspaper, said the assailant looked about 20, wore jeans and a cap and shouted "I shot the non-Muslim" as he left the scene.

Protesters outside the Agos office on one of Istanbul's busiest streets chanted "the murderer government will pay" and "shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism".

Television footage showed Dink's body lying in the street covered by a white sheet, with hundreds of bystanders gathering behind a police cordon.

"This bullet was fired against Turkey ... an image has been created about Turkey that its Armenian citizens have no safety," said CNN Turk editor Taha Akyol.

19 Jan 2007 15:44:08 GMT
Source: Reuters


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Can Dundar, Dink's friend and fellow journalist, said he wished Dink had left the country as he once promised he would in the face of the threats, protests and legal proceedings against him.

"Hrant's body is lying on the ground as if those bullets were fired at Turkey," Dundar told private NTV television.

Dink's body was covered with a white sheet in front of the newspaper's entrance. NTV said four empty shell casings were found on the ground and that he was killed by two bullets to the head.

Workers at the newspaper, including Dink's brother, who has also been put on trial in Turkey, wept and consoled each other near his body.

Fehmi Koru, a columnist at the Yeni Safak newspaper, said Dink's slaying was aimed at destabilizing Turkey. "His loss is the loss of Turkey," Koru said.

Dink had complained in a letter that he received no responses even after complaining to authorities about threats of violence made to him, NTV reported.

A colleague at Dink's newspaper, Aydin Engin, said Dink had attributed the threats to elements in the "deep state," a Turkish term that implies shadowy, deeply nationalist and powerful elements in the government.

bottom excerpt from: "Turkish-Armenian journalist gunned down", By BENJAMIN HARVEY Associated Press Writer © 2007 The Associated Press, Jan. 19, 2007, 11:37AM

Turkish television Friday showed copies of letters containing death threats that Dink said he had received in the last year. He said his pleas for official protection went unanswered.

"We will silence you in a way that you will never speak again," one of the letters said.

Writing in his weekly column Jan. 10, Dink said his computer was full of "lines containing threats and rage."

"It is clear that those who try to alienate me, weaken me and leave me defenseless have been successful," he wrote. "They managed to form a group, with a serious number of people who see me as someone who 'insults Turkishness' with the dirty and wrong information they have been funneling to society."

Suspect arrested

Police have detained the man suspected of killing journalist Hrant Dink in Turkey, Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler announced Saturday.

The suspect, identified by police as Ogun Samast, was caught on a bus in the Black Sea city of Samsun after a tip-off from his father, Guler said. He apparently was returning from Istanbul to his home town of Trabzon.

The arrest comes just 32 hours after Dink, an ethnic Armenian and editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, was killed by a gunman outside his office in Istanbul, provoking shock and embarrassment at home and outrage abroad.

Guler said police were investigating whether the suspect acted alone or had ties to a group.

Copyright AP


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2 February 2007 Pictures of murder suspect O.S. appear in the media. The pictures were taken after his capture in Samsun, and he is posing in front of a Turkish flag with an Atatürk quote. It later turns out that the Province Police Chief Mustafa Ilhan and the gendarmerie commander on duty, Captain Murat Bayrak, as well as a prosecutor were present when the photos were taken. Police and gendarmerie officers also made video recordings together with O.S. at the Samsun police headquarters. O.S. is obviously treated as a hero. Some others have taken pictures on digital and other cameras and on their mobile phones.

Reactions

Thousands of people marched Friday evening from Istanbul's central Taksim Square to the offices of Dink's Agos weekly newspaper, near the spot on a sidewalk where he was shot in the head. They held candles and posters with his picture; a somber silence was interrupted periodically with applause and chants for “the brotherhood of peoples.” and shouting "We are all Armenians! We are all Hrant Dink!" [1]

25 January 2007 Mete Cagdas, a columnist of a local newspaper in Sinop (western Black Sea), brings charges against the organising committee and participants in Hrant Dink's funeral procession for saying "We are all Armenian", claiming that this is contrary to Article 301.

"It is shocking but not surprising," said Raffi Hamparian of the Armenian National Committee of America, the nation's largest Armenian American political organization. "We are paying the results of a tragic policy on the part of Turkey to deny its past and, perhaps most tragically, the complicity of the U.S. in this denial." (LA Times, Jan 20)

2 February 2007 The Turkish Left magazine, which had nominated Hrant Dink in 6th place for the "fascists of the year" in 2006, continues to publish, although the campaign is subject of a court case. The same magazine continues to publish articles which show that it is not disturbed by the murder. In an article by Gökce Firat, entitled "Turkey Has Lost an Enemy", it says: "Dink does not become a martyr of the press or of democracy because he was murdered. When he was alive, he was an enemy of Turks and Turkey who defended the Armenian theses against this country".

4 February 2007 At a football match in Afyonkarahisar (central Anatolia), fans on the tribunes shouted "We are all Ogün" [the name of the young murder suspect] and wore white berets in his support.

20 April 2007 After the website of the Pelitlispor football club in Trabzon had published messages supporting the murders of Hrant Dink and priest Santoro, support for the murder of three Christians in Malatya on 18 April 2007 becomes apparent at a Malatyaspor website. The Pelitlispor internet site also speaks of the killers in Malatya as the "Malatya knights".

The water finds its crack: an Armenian view of Turkey

Hrant Dink
December 13, 2005

Europe and Turkey are locked in a relationship of mutual fear and suppressed desire. It will be opened when Turkey can face its greatest taboo, says the editor of the Armenian newspaper `Agos' in Istanbul, Hrant Dink.

The interest of foreign journalists, politicians and intellectuals in Turkey is more intense than ever. Their opening inquiries are clear and strong: `Where is Turkey going? Will nationalism increase? If it does, to what kind of a regime can Turkey slide?'

Then comes a special question, the one that people like me - a Turkish citizen and an Armenian - can always expect: `Are you minorities afraid of the way things are going?'

It is striking that those looking at Turkey from the outside are much more impatient, eager for quick answers and solutions, than those on the inside. To what degree is this impatience realistic? After all, throughout the period of the modern republic since 1923, Turkey is a country where changes have been dictated from top to bottom and thus one where inner dynamics from bottom to top are not easily activated. Turkish society is far more used to accepting change, allowing it to happen, than to initiating it.

This consistent structural character has allowed the `deep state' - the network of military and security forces that exercises real political control in Turkey - to survive the three major international developments influencing the country in recent decades.

First, the cold-war years of conflict (1940s-1980s) between the United States-led capitalist world and the Soviet Union-led socialist world. This external dynamic favoured the emergence of a radical, social left in Turkey, but the state's preference for western capitalism - aided by successive military coups d'état - crushed the left's challenge before it could become too powerful.

Second, the mullahs' revolution in Iran (1979). This external dynamic too had a harsh effect on Turkey; those in power instinctively saw its influence among religious Muslims in Turkey as equivalent to the demand for a change of regime, and thus something to be opposed by all means.

Third, the European Union (1960s-2000s). This outer dynamic is very different in its impact on Turkey than the first two. The main reason is that the EU finds nearly all elements of Turkish society and its institutions divided against itself on the issue. Political left and right, secular and religious, nationalist and liberal, state bureaucracy and military - the situation is the same in that everywhere there are internal conflicts over Europe at least as much as conflicts between the camps.

Since no part of Turkish society is homogeneously `for' or `against' the European Union, the EU process has had a singular effect: dissolving Turkey's existing polarisations and becoming itself the main inner dynamic of Turkish development. As the negotiations for Turkey's accession to the EU continue over the next decade, this dilemma will increasingly constitute the basis of Turkish politics. Every change experienced in the near future will `touch the skin' of nearly every section of society, creating widespread friction and probably a lot of annoyance.

From the inside, therefore, the questions facing Turkey are different from those posed by outsiders: `How can the oligarchic state, so accustomed to holding power, consent to share its sovereignty as a member of the European Union? Why is it so desperate to abandon the world it knows for an unknown future in Europe - is it the desire to be western, or the fear of remaining eastern?'

The great taboo

But the questions are not all one way. When the European Union is asked why it wishes to include Turkey, with its lower economic and democratic standards, the answer suggests an uncomfortable truth - that the relationship between Turkey and the EU is governed less by reciprocal desire than by fear. The military elite of the Turkish republic probably calculates that a Turkey unable to enter the European Union is in danger of becoming a strategical irrelevance, while the European Union's power-brokers must consider that a Turkey remaining outside of Europe might become a combatant on the other side of a `clash of civilisations'.

As long as the engine of fear pushing from the back is stronger than the engine of desire pulling from the front, the dynamics of Turkish-European Union relations will be uneasy and contested on all sides - not just in Turkey.

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.

In this atmosphere, a guiding watchword can be found in the first words of our national anthem. Indeed, I concluded my presentation to the conference at Bilgi University, Istanbul on `Ottoman Armenians During the Decline of the Empire: Issues of Scientific Responsibility and Democracy" on 24-25 September 2005 with these very words: `Do not fear'.

The real desire

The best contribution to the understanding of modern Turkey I can make at this stage is through a theme I developed at that Istanbul conference.

The relation between every living being and its area of existence is contained within it and (in the case of human beings) embodied in its very name. The animate is present, together with its area of living existence, inside and not outside this being. If you take this animate away from its area, even on a golden plate, it means that it is being cut at its very root. Deportation is something like that. People who lived on this territory for 3,000 years, people who produced culture and civilisation on this territory, were torn from the land they had lived on and those who survived were dispersed all over the world.

If this axe to the root dominates the psychological condition of generations of this people, you cannot simply act as if the rupture does not exist. The experience is already internalised, recorded on its people's memory, its genetic code. What is its name? The discipline of law can be preoccupied with this question, but whatever it decides we know exactly what we have lived through. It can be understood, even if I should not use the word genocide, as being a tearing up of the roots. There is nothing to do at this point, but this should be understood very well.

I would like to illustrate this internalising of experience with a personal anecdote from several years ago. An old Turkish man called me from a village in the region of Sivas and said: `Son, we searched everywhere until we found you. There is an old woman here. I guess she is from your people. She has passed away. Can you find any relative of her, or we will bury her with a Muslim service'.He gave me her name; she was a 70-year-old woman called Beatrice who had been visiting on holiday from France. `Okay, uncle, I will search', I said.

I looked around and within ten minutes I had found a close relative; we knew each other because we are so few. I went to the family's store and asked: `Do you know this person?' The middle-aged woman there turned to me and said `She is my mother'. Her mother, she told me, lives in France and comes to Turkey three or four times a year, but after a very short time in Istanbul prefers to go directly to the village she left many years earlier.

I told her daughter the sad news and she immediately travelled to the village. The next day she phoned me from there. She had found her mother but she suddenly began to cry. I begged her not to cry and asked her whether or not she will bring her body back for burial. `Brother', she said, `I want to bring her but there is an uncle here saying something', and gave the phone to him while crying.

I got angry with the man. `Why are you making her cry?', I said. `Son', he said, `I didn't say anything... I only said: `Daughter, it is your mother, your blood; but if you ask me, let her stay here. Let her be buried here...the water has found its crack'.'

I became thrown away at that moment. I lost and found myself in this saying produced by Anatolian people. Indeed, the water had found its crack.

A lady at the Istanbul conference implied that remembering the dead meant coveting territory. Yes, it is true that Armenians long for this soil. But let me repeat what I wrote soon after this experience. At the time the then president of Turkey, Suleyman Demirel, used to say: `We will not give even three pebblestones to Armenians.' I told the story of this woman and said: `We Armenians do desire this territory because our root is here. But don't worry. We desire not to take this territory away, but to come and be buried under it.' very bad http://www.opendemocracy.net/home/index.jsp


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The website of Agos is replaced with a black page with his photo, and its editorial staff stated: "there are no words to express our pain".[6] Thousands of people marched in Istanbul from the Agos newspaper's office to the Taksim Square in a spontaneous protest of the assassination. According to the BBC protestors chanted "We are all Armenians, we are all Hrant Dink."[32][33][34] People marched in other cities (including Ankara, Antalya, Bursa, İzmir, and Trabzon) as well to protest the assassination. [35] [36] All press outlets expressed outrage over the killing.[32] Some headlines: "The Murderer Is a Traitor" (Hürriyet), "Same Bloody Scenario" (referring to assassination of prominent journalists in the past) (Akşam), "It Was Turkey That Was Shot Dead" (Milliyet) Columns in Turkish newspapers included Armenian in transliteration: Ahparik, Ahparik! [Armenian for "brother, brother!"] by Hadi Uluengin in Hurriyet, Tsidesutyun Paregamis! [Farewell My Friend!] by Can Dunar in Milliyet. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer: "I am deeply saddened by the assassination of Hrant Dink in front of the Agos newspaper. I strongly condemn this ugly and shameful act.[32] Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: "The dark hands that killed him will be found and punished."[37][32] Armenian Patriarch of Turkey, Mesrob Mutafyan, declared 15 days of mourning for the Armenian community in Turkey

Hrant Dink's last column in Agos

The irony of history

Let's first repeat the news: The opening date of the Surp Haç Armenian Church of Ahtamar Island in Van, which was restored last year but remained unopened, has been postponed for the third time. In a written statement from the governor of Van it was announced that Ahtamar Church, the restoration of which is complete, will be opened to tourism on April 11. It was also said that the opening ceremony, which will be attended by international guests, will be organized by the governor of Van and the Ministry of Tourism.

Ten years ago, I addressed public officials in Van with my piece, "The Ahtamar workers battalion," and said: "Instead of creating 'monsters' to attract tourists note the historical sights in front of your eyes. Why does one need such mistaken steps? Van is a heaven of historical heritage. Why don't we sit down and think about how to restore this region? 'Armenians will come' they say. So what? Let them come and see the places of their ancestors. What's wrong with that?" And I added: "If you need help, we are ready to help. O history! O future! The youth in Turkey, Armenia and the diaspora are volunteers. 'The Ahtamar workers battalion' is ready for your orders... Know this. "Come, let's not restore the Ahtamar Church merely as a building. Let's also restore our frayed souls."

At last, after 10 years, the restoration of Ahtamar is finally done. We would love to see Turkey and Armenia cooperate in this restoration. But, unfortunately it wasn't the case.

Anyhow, one needs to mention and give thanks for the meticulous work of the project manager Cahit Zeydan, who tried to bring experts from Armenia for consultation, and was able to add the Turkish-Armenian architect Zakarya Mildanoğlu to the project. They did their best and a great job. However the bureaucrats and the politicians messed it up. They weren't able to realize the opening of the church. First they postponed the opening, which was announced as Nov. 4, 2006, to April 2007 because of "weather conditions." Then Atilla Koç, the tourism minister, announced that the ceremony will take place on April 24. Then came the reactions to Koç's timing. Armenian Patriarch Mutafyan declared "no Armenian, including himself, would join the ceremony if it was held on April 24."

Last week the subject was discussed in Parliament. CHP İzmir deputy Erdal Karademir asked whether holding the opening ceremony on April 24, the anniversary of the Armenian genocide, was the result of a specific AKP policy.

The nationalist press, on the other hand, carried the opening of the church into its headlines as "The treasonous opening in Van."

And now the date is announced as April 11.

It could only be possible to put a right job on a wrong course so successfully. The impossible-to-hide hidden motive could not be more revealing.

A real comedy… A real tragedy…

The government hasn't still been able to formulate a correct approach to the "Armenian question."

Its real aim is not to solve the problem, but to gain points like a wrestler in a contest. How and when it will make the right move and defeat its opponent. That's the only concern.

This is not earnestness.

The state calls on Armenian historians to discuss history, but does not shy from trying its own intellectuals who have an unorthodox rhetoric on the Armenian genocide.

It restores an Armenian church in the Southeast, but only thinks, "How can I use this for political gains in the world, how can I sell it?" The shifting of the opening of the Ahtamar Church to April 24 is a clear indication of this dishonest thinking.

And now pay attention!

While the rejection coming from the nationalist camp and even from the Armenian patriarch to the date of the opening creates a chance to correct the mistake, an irony of history appears on the scene.

The irony says, "Since you have shown irresponsibility, let me add to it," and reveals that the newly chosen date, April 11, is indeed April 24!

The April 11 of the year 1915 is exactly the April 24 of today, due to the difference between the old and new calendars.

No wonder the date April 24 is a later addition to the Armenian literature, with the coming of the new Turkish calendar. That date, on which the Armenian intellectuals and leaders were sent to oblivion, was indeed April 11, 1915.

Now a question remains:

Will those who have found April 24 problematic and have opted for April 11 instead choose to change the timing again?Or one could ask it this way: Are you sure? Is this your final decision?

http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=64438

Turkish Policemen Cleared Over Pictures Of Dink’s Killer

AFP

Two Turkish policemen were Wednesday acquitted over a scandal in which security forces posed for pictures with the suspected killer of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, the Anatolia news agency said.

The court verdict will be a disappointment for Dink's family who say police protected the self-confessed killer, Ogun Samast, when he was seized in the northern city of Samsun a day after Dink was shot dead in Istanbul last year.

Footage and photos leaked to the media at the time showed officers, some in uniform, posing with Samast, aged 17 at the time, as he held a Turkish flag, triggering accusations that some officials secretly approved of the murder. Eight police officiers were given disciplinary sanctions at the time, but only Metin Balta, the deputy head of the terrorism department, and Ibrahim Firat, a police chief in the same office, were brought to court.

At the end of a trial which lasted a little over a year, the court in Samsun ruled that Balta was not guilty of "abusing his office by allowing acts unbefitting state officials and leading to the impression that there was sympathy" for Samast's action, the report said. The court also acquitted Firat on the ground that there was no "solid and convincing" evidence to convict him of "violating the secrecy of the investigation" by leaking the images to the media, it added.

Dink, 52, hated by Turkish nationalists for calling the World War I massacres of Armenians a genocide, was gunned down on January 19, 2007, outside the offices of his Agos newspaper in central Istanbul.

Samast and 18 accomplices went on trial in Istanbul last year. The charge-sheet says police received intelligence as early as 2006 of a plot organised in the northern city of Trabzon, Samast's hometown, to kill Dink. Two soldiers -- members of the Trabzon gendarmerie intelligence department -- were put on trial in January on charges of covering up intelligence about the murder plot.

They testified in court in March that they had passed on to their superiors information of a plot to kill Dink, but said no action was taken. They also accused their superiors of fabricating documents after the murder to create the impression they had no prior knowledge of the plot.

The trial is seen as a test of Ankara's resolve to eliminate the "deep state" -- a term used to describe security forces acting outside the law to preserve what they consider Turkey's best interests.

Family Boycotts Retrial For Murder Of Turkish-Armenian Journalist

Al-Monitor Sept 20 2013

By: Yavuz Baydar for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse Posted on September 20, 2013.

It was an assassination that left an extraordinary mark on the Turkish judiciary, justice and public conscience. So did the tragedy it symbolized. With the case of Hrant Dink returned to ground zero six years after the murder, the victim's family lost its patience in an open letter.

Hrant Dink, editor of the weekly Agos, the voice of Turkey's Armenian community, was gunned down on Jan. 19, 2007, in a busy Istanbul street by a young man named Ogun Samast. The murder reverberated beyond Turkey's borders in a matter of hours.

Dink was the 62nd journalist to be killed in Turkey since a libertarian constitution was introduced in 1908. Yet, because of his Armenian background and much-admired courage, along with the reform process Turkey was undergoing, his murder trial, which opened in July 2007, became the most significant litmus test for Turkish justice.

Exasperated by a spate of murky political murders in the 1980s and 1990s, and encouraged by government statements, the Turkish public saw in the trial a "threshold of hope."

The Dink family hoped that the judicial process would uncover the assailant's links to "shady deep state" mechanisms - a "terrorist organization" structure - that they believed was behind the murder.

In the months leading up to the assassination, Dink stood trial three times for "insulting Turkishness," under the infamous Article 301 of the penal code, and was convicted in two of the cases. He was summoned to the Istanbul governor's office, where members of the intelligence service, MIT, "cautioned" him over Agos stories. Shortly before his murder, far-right types were spotted around the Agos office, and the newspaper was flooded with threats to "shut up."

The case of his murder gradually transformed into a tussle between the judges and the Dink family's legal team as evidence was presented and rejected and the process dragged on. Many of the requests by the Dink lawyers were either turned down or lost in the labyrinth of red tape.

After six years, the case wrapped up with 18 convictions for "ordinary murder."

The Supreme Court of Appeals has now deepened the family's tragedy, overturning the lower court's rulings and ordering a review of the case. It rejected the argument that a "state-harbored terrorist organization" was behind Dink's murder, holding that the suspects should be retried on charges of belonging to an ordinary criminal organization, that is, a mafia-style enterprise.

In a dramatic move, Dink's devastated wife and children released an open letter to the Turkish public and international audience.

"As the Dink Family, we will no longer be a tool in the game of state structures that insults us and will not attend the hearings of the review of the murder case," the letter stated. It further read, "Since the slaying of Hrant Dink on January 19, 2007, the system in Turkey - with its judiciary, security forces, military and civilian bureaucracy, and political institutions - has all but mocked us. While pretending to pursue justice, the criminal alliance called the state re-committed the murder day by day, hearing by hearing, over and over again. This alliance is the very crime syndicate that planned the murder and then covered it up. ... No effective investigation was conducted at any stage of this case. The biggest insult, however, came from the court when it ruled that no organization was involved in the murder."

The Dink's letter leveled harsh criticism at the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP): "In this case, political will was the only thing necessary to uncover the state's murder mechanisms and the criminal alliance. Despite all its public statements and pledges, the government persistently refrained from displaying political will.

Far from pursuing the case as a 'matter of honor,' the government chose to use the murder - perpetrated during its own rule - as a trump card to prosecute offenders only when the gun was pointed at itself.

It boasted, 'No murder has remained unresolved during our term,' ignoring the slaying of the only Armenian in republican history who had waged a vocal struggle for human rights. We are no longer part of this show. We have no expectation from anything in which the state is either in front of or behind the curtain."

Last week, one of the Dink family's attorneys, Fethiye Cetin, published Utanc Duyuyorum (I Feel Ashamed), a book recounting how the case proceeded. She argues that it is extremely unlikely that justice will prevail unless public pressure cranks up.

Cetin complains of apathy on the part of the powerful Istanbul Bar Association because of Dink's Armenian heritage. She also argues that the prosecutor, Zekeriya Oz, known for investigating coup networks, such as Ergenekon, was hampered by the "deep state" and that collusion between the state and the elected government was instrumental in covering up the murder. The book provides a detailed accounting of these arguments.

An analysis published Sept. 19 by Radikal, which has closely followed the case, contained a startling assessment: "All public servants suspected of involvement or negligence in the murder have been promoted. [Former Istanbul governor] Muammer Guler became interior minister, while [former Istanbul police chief] Celalettin Cerrah was appointed governor of Osmaniye. The then-Trabzon police chief, Ramazan Akyurek, and Engin Dinc succeeded each other in ascending to the helm of the police's intelligence department. Avni Usta, who had filed the criminal complaint against Dink under Article 301, became the police chief of Sirnak. Nihat Omeroglu and Muhittin Mihcak, who were instrumental in the Appeals Court's decision to uphold Dink's conviction under Article 301, were elected public ombudsman and deputy public ombudsman, respectively. The head of the appeals court, Hasan Gerceker, ascended to the Arbitration Board, and Hasan Erbil to the chief prosecutor's office. ... The [implicated] policemen never appeared before court. And the investigation into public servants continues under the veil of secrecy."

Dink devoted his life to trying to improve the conditions of Turkey's 70,000-strong Armenian minority, the normalization of ties between Turkey and Armenia, Ankara's recognition of the great Armenian tragedy in 1915 and rapprochement between Turkey and the Armenian diaspora.

With the seventh anniversary of his murder approaching, there is no visible progress in any of these areas. Similarly, there is no mention of Armenians in ongoing speculation about the prospective democratization package, whose official announcement has been postponed until late September. The only positive development so far has been the return of about one-fourth of the properties the state had seized from non-Muslim minorities.

The Armenians are divided over AKP rule. Some complain about the slow pace of reform, while others refrain from criticizing the government on the grounds that they are better off compared to in the past. On the political front, Turkish-Armenian normalization remains "on the shelf." The issue has moved down on Turkey's foreign affairs agenda, now overwhelmed by the Middle East, and there is no sign of when it will be taken up again.

In the meantime, the 100th anniversary, in 2015, of the Armenian deportations is approaching. The current inertia is of no help in dispelling the mistrust of the Armenian diaspora. One does not have to be clairvoyant to see that the course of the Dink murder case will be of crucial significance for those who expect a multifaceted opening in Turkey's ossified Armenian problem.

Yavuz Baydar is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor's Turkey Pulse. A journalist since 1979, he has been a radio reporter, news presenter, producer, TV host, foreign correspondent, debater and, in recent years, a news ombudsmen for the daily Sabah. His opinion pieces can be followed in the English-language daily Today's Zaman.

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/09/family-slain-journalist-boycotts-trial.html


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