2007 Turkey Hrant Dink2007
Hrant Dink – Turkey

Hrant Dink was born in September 1954 in Malatya, Turkey, to an Armenian family. He gained his degree at Istanbul University where he became involved in left-wing political activities.

After leaving university he ran a bookshop and a camp and orphanage for Turkish-Armenian children. After the camp was shut down by the Turkish authorities he helped found the weekly newspaper Agos in 1996 and became its editor. Agos featured articles in Turkish and Armenian (as well as an online English language edition) and focused its coverage on human rights abuses, minority rights and Turkish-Armenian relations. From its inception, the magazine and its staff suffered death threats from extremist nationalist groups.

Dink was among a number of high profile writers charged under Article 301 of the Penal Code, accused of ‘insulting Turkishness’ for his writings that challenged the Turkish government’s refusal to acknowledge that there had been a Armenian genocide in 1915, and called for reconciliation. He was one of the few to be convicted. (One of the most high profile cases was that of writer Orhan Pamuk, subsequently granted the Nobel Prize for Literature, who also was charged for his comments on Armenia, to international outcry. His case was dropped in early 2006.) In October 2005 Hrant Dink was given a six-month suspended sentence for a 2004 article entitled ‘The Armenian Identity’. In 2006 he was again charged under the same legislation after referring to the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as ‘genocide’ in an interview with Reuters.

Despite receiving numerous death threats – threats that the Turkish police reportedly refused to take seriously – Dink continued to live a public life. On 19 January 2007 he was shot dead while walking to the offices of Agos. His murder inspired large marches, with over 100,000 protestors carrying banners saying ‘We are all Armenians’, ‘We are all Hrant Dink’ and ‘301 Murderer’. Dink’s murder has sparked debate on revision or repeal of Article 301, which many believe marked Dink out as a target for ultra nationalists. Ogun Samast, a 17-year-old youth, was arrested on accusation of manslaughter, affiliation to an armed group and possession of illegal firearms. In March 2007 it was reported that 30 people had been interrogated in connection with Dink’s murder, 20 of whom were subsequently brought to trial that opened in July 2007 and is still ongoing.

Writing sample:

It is obvious that those wishing to alienate me and make me weak and defenseless reached their goal. Right now they have brought about a significant circle of people who are not low in number and who regard me as someone ‘insulting Turkish identity’ due to the dirty and wrong information.

The diary and memory of my computer is full of messages from citizens of this circle full of rage and threats.
(Let me note that I regarded one among them posted from Bursa as a close threat and submitted it to Public Prosecutor’s office in ?i?li but got no result.)

To what extent are these threats real and to what extent unreal? In fact it is impossible for me to know this.
What is the real threat and what is unbearable for me is the psychological torture of myself.
What I have always in my mind is the following question: ‘What do these people now think of me?’
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.
I am like a dove…
Like a dove I have my eyes everywhere, in front of me, at the back, on the left, on the right.
My head is as moving as the one of a dove… And fast enough to turn in an instance.

From: A Dove’s Skittishness in My Soul. Istanbul – Agos – 22 January 2007, Monday

For more click here:

The Guardian obituary

Hrant Dink website

Agos article