[OPE-L] The Life and Death of Hrant Dink

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Fri Jan 19 2007 - 15:23:51 EST

The Armenian activist Hrant Dink, who resided in Istanbul, was
murdered there today.  He was only 53-years-old.  The following,
while reporting on the his death, is also a biography.

In solidarity, Jerry

Hrant Dink - from <http://www.Armeniapedia.org>

Hrant Dink

Hrant Dink was shot dead on the 19th of January 2007 aged 53, outside The
Agos Newspaper offices in Istanbul.

Hrant Dink (September 15, 1954 - January 19, 2007) was born in Malatya. He
was best known for his role as editor of 'Agos' 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.

He got his primary and secondary education in Armenian schools.
Immediately after lyceum, he got married.

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

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.

        a.. 1 Legal battles for insulting Turkishness
        b.. 2 ==
          a.. 2.1 Poisoning part 2
          b.. 2.2 Happy is one who calls himself a Turk
        c.. 3 Shot dead
        d.. 4 The water finds its crack: an Armenian view of Turkey

Legal battles for insulting Turkishness

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.

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
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

"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

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.
[edit]Shot dead

Copyright APBy 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
mass killings of Armenians 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.

Last year Turkey's appeals court upheld a six-month suspended jail
sentence against Dink for referring in an article to an Armenian
nationalist idea of ethnic purity without Turkish blood.

The court said the comments went against article 301 of Turkey's revised
penal code, which lets prosecutors pursue cases against writers and
scholars for "insulting Turkish identity".

The ruling was sharply criticised by the EU.


Dink was one of dozens of writers who have been charged for insulting
Turkishness, particularly over the alleged genocide of Armenians by Turks
during World War One.

Turkey denies allegations that 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a
systematic genocide. It says both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks
were killed in a partisan conflict that raged on Ottoman territory.

But the government has repeatedly promised to revise the much criticised
article of the penal code amid EU pressure. Improving freedom of speech in
Turkey is a priority in Ankara's efforts to join the 27-member bloc.

"Hrant was a perfect target for those who want to obstruct Turkey's
democratisation and its path towards the European Union," Agos writer
Aydin Engin told Reuters.

Dink was editor-in-chief of the bilingual Turkish and Armenian weekly and
one of the most prominent Armenian voices in Turkey.

"I will not leave this country. If I go I would feel I was leaving alone
the people struggling for democracy in this country. It would be a
betrayal of them. I could never do this," Dink said in an interview with
Reuters last July.

Tensions have been growing ahead of presidential elections amid a rise in

Turkey's powerful secularist establishment fears the ruling AK Party,
which controls parliament and has roots in political Islam, will elect
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as president.

Secularists, including powerful army generals and judges, fear Erdogan --
a former Islamist -- would try to erode Turkey's strict division between
state and religion if elected president.

Erdogan denies he or his party have an Islamist agenda. (Additional
reporting by Ercan Ersoy, Daren Butler, Selcuk Gokoluk and Emma

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 [edit]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

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

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

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

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

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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