DC Area Community Gathers at Turkish Embassy to Condemn Dink Murder

WASHINGTON–Some 100 Armenian Americans from throughout the Greater Washington DC area braved the snow and freezing temperatures on Sunday, January 21, to honor slain Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and call on the Turkish Government to end its 92 year international campaign of Armenian Genocide denial. The vigil was organized the ARF Washington Sebouh Gomideh, ANC of Greater Washington, and AYF Washington Ani Chapter. The crowd gathered in front of the Turkish Embassy just two days after Dink, a respected journalist and free speech advocate, was gunned down outside his "Agos" newspaper office in Istanbul, Turkey. Dink had long been persecuted by the Turkish government for his calls for Armenian Genocide recognition, and was convicted last year for "insulting Turkishness" under Turkey’s notorious Article 301 law restricting free speech. Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk, publisher Ragip Zarakolu and novelist Elif Shafak are just some of the many writers who have also been prosecuted according to the same repressive law. During remarks at the vigil, AYF Ani Chapter chairman Serouj Aprahamian stated, "Many are saying that Dink was killed by ultranationalists who considered his statemen’s to be insulting Turkey’s honor and threatening its unity. But this is not just the position of some so-called ‘ultranationalists'; it is the official position of the Turkish government which prosecuted and condemned Dink for his stance on the Armenian Genocide." Aprahamian continued to note that,"It is the shameless policy of Genocide enial perpetrated by Ankara which is the real problem and that is what we must continue to fight against." Other speakers at the vigil included ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian and Father Sarkis Aktavoukian, pastor of the Soorp Khatch Armenian Church, who led the vigil participants in prayer in memory of Dink. In a statement issued immediately upon news of Dink’s assassination, Hamparian noted that, "Hrant Dink’s murder is tragic proof that the Turkish government–through its campaign of denial, threats and intimidation against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide–continues to fuel the same hatred and intolerance that initially led to this crime against humanity more than 90 years ago." Earlier on Sunday, Fr. Aktavoukian had held a special requiem service in memory of Hrant Dink at Soorp Khatch Church.

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