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Turkey
Hrant Dink case, day by day
“We have killed a man whose ideas we couldn’t accept” - Orhan Pamuk

The trial, hearing by hearing

-  12 February 2009 - Interior ministry reopens investigation of Hrant Dink murder
-  29 January 2009 - Dink trial hearing criticised as undignified
-  17 October 2008 - Hrant Dink murder trial resumes, two police witnesses refuse to answer questions
-  8 July 2008 - In first open hearing in Hrant Dink murder trial, court rejects merger with parallel cases implicating police officers
-  6 May 2008 - Little progress in latest Hrant Dink trial hearing, but press to be admitted to next one
-   29 February 2008 - Disappointing court decisions in Hrant Dink murder trial
-  12 February 2008 - Third hearing in Dink murder trial increases doubts that it will identify all those involved
-  28 September 2007 - As Dink murder trial resumes, authorities urged to prosecute all those who knew about murder plot
-  3 July 2007 - As Hrant Dink murder trial opens, court is urged to show it is protecting no one


Follow developments in the Hrant Dink murder investigation

-  Read 25 July 2008 press release - Colonel denies involvement in Dink murder as parliamentary committee accuses security forces of neglicence

-  Read 6 June 2008 press release - Security camera footage ignored by police shows editor’s killer had accomplices

-  Read 21 March 2008 press release - Two Trabzon gendarmes accuse superiors of doing nothing to stop Dink murder

-  Read 6 March 2008 press release - Trabzon police accuse Istanbul police of failing to prevent Hrant Dink’s murder

-  Read 13 November 2007 press release - Two Trabzon police officers who knew about plot to murder journalist are charged with “abuse of authority”

-  Read 5 October 2007 press release - Call for all relevant evidence to be incorporated into Hrant Dink murder file

-  Read 18 July 2007 press release - Six months after editor’s murder, authorities warned that incomplete trial will not be accepted

-  Read 11 July 2007 press release - One of Hrant Dink’s alleged murderers revives questions about police role

-  Read 4 July 2007 press release - Police say Hrant Dink’s killers were just a group of friends acting on their own initiative

-  Read 27 March 2007 press release - Call for action against suspected masterminds of journalist’s murder

-  Read 19 March 2007 press release - Murdered journalist’s family want proof of government’s intention to punish all those responsible

-  Read 8 March 2007 press release - Police negligence and nationalist tensions at centre of probe in Hrant Dink’s murder

-  Read 6 February 2007 press release - Call for firm action from government in face of police negligence and misconduct in Dink case

-  Read 30 January 2007 press release - Despite reassuring statements from government officials, journalists continue to be threatened and prosecuted

-  Read 19 January 2007 press release - Deep shock over Turkish-Armenian editor’s murder today in Istanbul


Who was Hrant Dink?

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Turkey’s journalists are mourning the death of Hrant Dink, 52, a newspaper editor of Armenian origin who was gunned down on 19 January. The barbaric action of Ogün Samast, a 17-year-old Turkish ultra-nationalist, silenced an advocate of peace and democracy. Throughout his career, Dink fought passionately for acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide, and was awarded the Henri Nannen Press Freedom Prize in recognition of his efforts. His death has exacerbated the divisions between nationalists and the more progressive sectors of Turkish society. Tirelessly committed and always controversial, Dink never lost faith in the possibility of national reconciliation.

“I have the right to die in the country where I was born”

Born on 15 September 1954, Dink grew up with his two brothers in a Protestant Armenian orphanage in Istanbul. A zoology and philosophy graduate, he founded Agos, the country’s first bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly, in 1996. Endowed with a bold and acerbic style of writing, he waged an unflagging battle for better relations between Turks and the Armenian minority. He regarded Agos as “a bridge between the Turkish and Armenian communities (...) The only way to combat the deep-seated prejudices in Turkish society.”

(JPEG) Dink was subjected to administrative harassment and judicial intimidation throughout his career. In October 2005, he was convicted under article 301 of the criminal code, which protects Turkish identity. There have been serious violations of free expression since this article’s adoption in June 2005, and around 65 writers and journalists have been prosecuted. This law, which Reporters Without Borders has repeatedly condemned, allows the Turkish authorities to maintain their harassment of the media, journalists and intellectuals. The targets have included Nobel literature laureate Orhan Pamuk, journalist Umur Hozatli and of course Dink.

Dink’s comments about the Armenian genocide were called an “offence to Turkey.” In 2005, he received a 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,” and he had been facing a possible three-year prison sentence.

(JPEG) Regarded by nationalists as a traitor, Dink became a target of groups on Turkey’s far-right. Despite all the threats and accusations, he always refused to leave Turkey. In his last interview he said: “It is here that I want to pursue this struggle. Because it is not just my struggle, it is the struggle of all those want the democratisation of Turkey. If I surrender and leave the country, it will be a disgr[ace for everyone. My ancestors lived in this country, it is here that I have my roots and I have the right to die in the country where I was born.”

In his last column, which appeared in the 19 January issue of Agos, on the day he died, he expressed his feelings about the prosecutions that had been brought against him. He sp[[ oke movingly about a man who was afraid: “I see myself like a scared pigeon but I know that in this country, the people do not attack pigeons (...) Pigeons can live in the cities, even in crowds. Nervous, certainly, but free.” Dink’s young murderer confessed to shooting him in order to put an end to what he considered to be insults to Turks.

(JPEG) Dink is survived by his widow, Rakel, and their three children. As she stood beside his coffin, covered by yellow and red carnations, his widow told a silent crowd of 100,000 mourners: “We say a finally goodbye to my beloved, the patriarch of our family and the half of my body.” She also described the passion that burned in her husband, for whom “there were no taboos and nothing was untouchable.”

A life of struggle

The victim of his struggle against the Turkish state’s revisionism, Dink was one of the figureheads of the battle of Turkey’s Armenians for recognition of the 1915 massacres. His murder highlights a disturbing situation in Turkey in which rampant nationalism continues to contaminate the younger generations. Dink’s murder has been a rude awakening for the political and civic consciousness, and many are now pressing for reform of article 301.

(JPEG) The presence of senior Armenian and Turkish officials at Dink’s funeral has been seen as a sign of improvement in relations between the two countries. Although it recognised Armenia when it obtained independence in 1991, Turkey has never accepted its responsibility for the 1915 genocide.

The silent procession of around 100,000 people on 23 January is evidence that a significant part of the Turkish population is committed to the defence of freedoms. All the communities taking part shared in brandishing banners that said: “We are all Armenians. We are all Hrant Dink.” The slogan was all the more surprising in a country where “Armenian”is still sometimes used as an insult. Dink today rests in Istanbul’s Armenian cemetery, but his struggle goes on.

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