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CRAG Condemns the Murder of Hrant Dink in Turkey - 20January 2007

London - Hrant Dink, the well-known Armenian Turkish publisher and editor of the weekly Agos bulletin was murdered in cold blood in front of his office.

Dink was not only known in his native Turkey for the weekly bulletin. He was also known for his frequent public calls for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians on the basis of recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 by Turkey and a moving forward in relations for the sake of a better future for the two peoples. As a result of this drive for reconciliation and dialogue, he faced a number of legal cases for “insulting the Turkish identity” and for openly speaking about the genocide of Armenians in 1915, and was given a six-month suspended sentence in October 2005 after writing about it.

Dink, 53, a Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, had received threats from nationalists who viewed him as a traitor, according to the last editorial he wrote in Agos where he also spoke of psychological torture against him. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Dink wept as he talked about some of his fellow countrymen's hatred for him, saying he could not stay in a country where he was unwanted.

Upon hearing of Dink’s assassination, Fatma Müge Goçek, Turkish author, sociologist, and friend of Dink, said, “[we] have lost such a warm, compassionate friend with a great zest for life who believed so fervently in the goodness of humankind. Dink spent his unfortunately short life to get Turkey to reconcile with its past and paid for his efforts with his life. The dark forces in Turkey took him out but what he has instilled in all of us will not be quenched: we all will keep him alive.”

Reporters without Borders and Amnesty International UK both expressed their shock by the murder of Hrant Dink. Reporters without Borders said that “this murder will distress and disturb all those who defend the freedom of thought and expression in Turkey and elsewhere,” the press freedom organisation said.

Today, CRAG laments the fact that the Turkish authorities did not deem it fit to provide Dink with enough security to ensure his physical and personal safety despite his repeated statements of concern. But it also laments the fact that this murder was a direct result of Turkish refusal to move away from denial of history, and an entrenchment in such denial that foments hatred, violence and even homicide against Armenians and non-Armenians who proclaim the truth about a bloody chapter of WWI that is acknowledged by the majority of self-respecting historians world-wide.

The Turkish Government is negotiating its accession to the European Union. However, its attitude seems to dismiss the fact that such accession requires a subscription to standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms that are comfortable with the normative values of the free world. Turkey is not moving forward with its reform of laws and mentalities, but staying locked in its Ottoman ideas and its rejection of the truth in favour of myths that foment hatred and more violence between Armenians and Turks alike. It is high time for the government in Turkey to cross the fine line between its dark past and the opportunity to bring democracy, freedom and Human Rights to people in Turkey as well as normalising relationship with its neighbours. Turkey’s EU aspirations are not tolerated by its ‘deep state’, using every means available they destroy the foundations upon which a democratic future may be realised. Dink is a victim to this conspiracy that is also aimed at defaming Turkey, and keeping it away from a Eurocentric environment.

“Today, with the murder of Hrant Dink, Turkey should not only express its regret for a murder that took place on its territory by seemingly nationalist elements, but equally importantly it should come clean with its past and work boldly toward the future. Once and for all, it should recognise the Armenian Genocide in order to put an end to those chapters of hatred and vitriol and normalise relations between Armenians and Turks,” added Raffi Sarkissian, Chair of CRAG.

20 January 2007

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