Bay Area Armenian Community Outraged Over Dink Assassination

SAN FRANCISCO–The Bay Area Armenian American community gathered for requiem services on January 21 and public gatherings over two days to express its grief and outrage over the assassination of Hrant Dink, the Armenian newspaper editor shot dead in front of his office in Istanbul, Turkey on Friday. Thousands of mourners and demonstrators are expected at Dink’s funeral on Tuesday, January 23. The editor had faced a succession of government criminal prosecutions, under a law prohibiting "insulting Turkishness," and had received personal death threats for his publications about taboo subjects in Turkey, including the Armenian Genocide. "The real murderers are in the Governor’s office," said Prof. Taner Akcam who addressed the Armenian American community at an event Saturday evening. Akcam, a professor of History at the University of Minnesota, is a Turkish citizen, who was the first Turkish academician to write about the Armenian Genocide in 1991. Over the past two days, many inside and outside of Turkey have expressed strong suspicion that the government authorities were behind the killing. Regarding the Turkish Prime Minister’s statement of dismay after the murder, Akcam said, "We don’t need his crocodile tears. This was a culmination of an ongoing campaign against Hrant by the Turkish deep state."The press, government, military…they all bear responsibility for his murder," said Akcam, pointing to the severe laws against free speech and the extreme nationalistic atmosphere, which permeates Turkey. "It was no accident. This time, Hrant was chosen as a target. He was targeted because, believe me, he was Armenian." Akcam told the crowd about Dink’s recent summons to the Istanbul Lt. Governor’s office, where he said he was warned to contain his writing, because "there were many crazy young men on the streets." After a requiem service on Sunday, the Bay Area Armenian National Committee held a public gathering at the Armenian Community Center, showing slides of the murder scene and mass demonstrations in Istanbul as well as video of Dink’s talk to Bay Area Armenia’s last year, in which he spoke of the need for democracy and free speech in Turkey. "Every day Hrant Dink was on the front lines of the battle for Armenian Genocide recognition by the Turkish government," said Roxanne Makasdjian, Chairperson of the Bay Area ANC. Having met with Dink in July, she told the crowd that he had received many death threats and that the government was opening another criminal case against him. "We cannot allow his death to have been in vain. Here in the US, we must call on our government to urge its ally, Turkey, to accept the truth of its history, as the only means by which it can begin the process of democratization," said Makasdjian. In the US Congress, a resolution commemorating the Armenian Genocide is expected to be introduced in the coming days. In previous years when similar resolutions have been introduced, they have been prevented from proceeding to a full vote, due to Turkish government lobby efforts. San Francisco Representative and House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has been a co-sponsor of previous resolutions, and pledged during her recent campaign to continue her support for Armenian Genocide recognition.

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