Hrant Dink Commemorated 9 Years After His Death

Hrant-Dink-rally
Hrant-Dink-rally

Memorial rally in Istanbul commemorating the death of Hrant Dink. (Source: Public Radio of Armenia)

ISTANBUL (Combined Sources) — Thousands of people gathered today to commemorate the late Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink at the site in Istanbul where he was gunned down nine years ago.

The large crowd filed past the military museum in the Sisli district at around 1:30 p.m. to walk toward the Agos office building to read a statement at the site where Dink was shot dead by triggerman Ogun Samast.

Accompanied by water cannons and armored vehicles, police took intense security measures along the route of the march as well as around the office of weekly Agos in Sisli’s Osmanbey neighborhood.

“We are all Hrant Dink,” “We are all Armenians” read black-and-white placards written in Armenian on one side and Turkish on the other.

“We won’t forget, we won’t forgive” read another at the memorial rally that has become an annual event since the murder of Dink on January 19, 2007.

In 2011, the perpetrator Samast was sentenced to 22 years and ten months in prison for the murder. His accomplice, Yasin Hayal, is serving a life sentence for supplying Samast with a weapon and money.

Dink’s assassination sent shockwaves through Turkey and grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that the security forces had known of the murder plot, but failed to act.

An Istanbul court last month finally accepted an indictment against 25 public officials, including former police and intelligence chiefs, on charges of “forming a criminal organization,” as well as voluntary manslaughter and negligence.

The accused, including former Istanbul police Chief Celalettin Cerrah, may face a trial.

Every year since Dink’s murder thousands have rallied to remember the journalist, whose life-long campaign for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians won him as many enemies as admirers.

Turkish nationalists especially resented that he qualified the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, the precursor of modern Turkey, as genocide, a term Ankara has always rejected.

Almost a decade after Dink’s death, activists express growing discontent over the limits on freedom of expression under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Prosecutors last week began a vast investigation into over 1,200 academics for engaging in “terrorist propaganda” by signing a petition condemning the military crackdown in the Kurdish-dominated southeast.

Memorial rallies were also held in Ankara as well as Armenian capital of Yerevan and a few European cities on Tuesday.

Commemorating the ninth anniversary of the assassination, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović reiterated her call for a swift and transparent judicial procedure to identify the masterminds behind the murder.

“I remain hopeful that recent developments in the trial will help bring the masterminds behind the murder to justice,” Mijatović said, referring to the December 2015 decision of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office to approve an indictment by prosecutor Gokalp Kokcu to investigate 25 public officials on charges of negligence and misconduct related to the murder.

“I trust that the trial will finally serve justice to Dink’s family, friends and colleagues,” Mijatović said. “Exposing the masterminds would also demonstrate to the entire society the importance of freedom of expression, and the continued need to fight violence against journalists.”

Memorial rallies were also held in Ankara as well as Armenian capital of Yerevan and a few European cities on Tuesday.

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2 Comments

  1. Pasha said:

    Hrant Dink will always have a Very Special place in our hearts. His family & my family were neighbors in Turkish occupied Malatya Armenian. My grand mother and his grandmother were best friends. Tremendous loss not only to the Armenians but to the whole world. Hrant was a Amazing person.

  2. Sylva~MD~Poetry said:

    To Our Knight Hrant Dink
(1954 – gunned down 2007)

    To “Our Knight”,
    Hrant Dink”

    Who had no sword

    Only fingers on pens

    That carved on many
    
Khachkars 
(Cross-Stones).
    
Born a Martyr,
    
He’s still alive

    With his astrocytes,
    
For justice must prevail.

    (C) Dr. Sylva Portoian
    –––––––––––––––––––
    From my poetry collection, Syndromes of Souls, March 2012
    Nobel Prize-winning Turkish novelist, Orhan Pamuk*
    visited Dink’s family in Istanbul on January 21, 2007
    “In a sense, we are all responsible for his death”

*

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