California Legislature Adjourns in Memory of Hrant Dink

SACARMENTO–Both houses of the California State legislature adjourned in memory of the courageous Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was assassinated by a Turkish terrorist in his hometown of Istanbul last Friday, January 19. Assemblymembers Paul Krekorian and Greg Aghazarian, along with Senator Jack Scott, made tributes in memory of Hrant Dink. "Hrant Dink was a respected editor who was known and honored throughout the world as a courageous symbol of free speech who challenged authority in Turkey. He dared to speak publicly about the Armenian Genocide, he challenged his government’s suppression of dissent, and he eloquently advocated for the rights of women and ethnic minorities and for civility and tolerance," said Krekorian. Assemblymember Greg Aghazarian joined in the memorial tribute to Dink. "Hrant Dink spoke out against the Armenian Genocide even in the face of death threats, and his commitment to truth and human rights ultimately cost him his life," Aghazarian said. "His death leaves the world a darker place, but his courage will never be forgotten, and his message of respect for humanity will never be silenced," Aghazarian said. Assemblymembers Krekorian and Aghazarian both lost members of their family in the Armenian Genocide in the early part of the 20th century. Senator Scott added, "In the historic struggle of all nations for freedom of speech, this man died for his ideas and his ideals. His death has led to an outcry from around the world by those who believe in the freedom to speak the truth. I am pleased to join Assemblymembers Krekorian and Aghazarian in honoring this courageous journalist." Thank you Madam Speaker. Members, I rise this morning because last week, freedom of speech was dealt a tragic blow by a terrorist assassin on the streets of Istanbul. Hrant Dink was a respected newspaper editor who was known and honored throughout the world as a courageous symbol of freedom who challenged authoritarian rule in Turkey. He dared to speak publicly about the Armenian Genocide, which his government continues to deny. He challenged his government’s suppression of dissent. And he eloquently advocated for the rights of women and ethnic minorities, and for civility and tolerance. As a result, Mr. Dink was subjected to unrelenting harassment, intimidation and death threats. Authorities even prosecuted him — repeatedly — under a Turkish law that makes criticizing the government a crime. And yet his principles wouldn’t allow him to be silent. Hrant Dink represented the highest standards of journalism, and he received many international awards for his courage. He was beloved in the Armenian community around the world, and he was honored during his visit to Glendale and Burbank in my District just two months ago. Tragically, though, on Friday, Hrant Dink was brutally assassinated by an extremist Turkish nationalist. A man who had been an international symbol of peaceful civility was brought down by an act of violent hatred. As the Turkish Daily News described him yesterday, Hrant Dink was a martyr to democracy. His clarion voice fell silent at the age of 52. He is survived by his wife Rakel and their three children. I ask that the Assembly adjourn today in the memory of Hrant Dink. I ask also that we draw inspiration from his steadfast devotion to truth, tolerance and freedom throughout the world, and that we redouble our own personal commitment to those values.

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