LA Armenian Community Unites to Mourn Slain Journalist March 11 tribute commemorates Hrant Dink; Archbishop announces requiem service at Prelacy churches

GLENDALE–The Armenian community of greater Los Angeles will convene at the Glendale Civic Auditorium on March 11 for what promises to be an emotional tribute to the life, work and tragic death of Hrant Dink, the 52-year-old Turkish-Armenian journalist who was assassinated in Istanbul, Turkey, on January 19. The scope of the event is unprecedented, as it features the participation of all of the 300,000-strong community’s churches, leading political organizations, as well as professional, cultural, educational and social service associations, which have all united for the commemoration. To coincide with the tribute and mark the forty days since Dink’s tragic death, the Western prelacy announced that all prelacy churches will hold a special requiem ceremony during regular church service on March 11, to be held under the auspices of Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian. The founder and editor-in-chief of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, Dink was an outspoken proponent of democratic values, human and minority rights in Turkey, and of a dialogue and reconciliation between Turks and Armenia’s. For his statemen’s, Dink was prosecuted three times under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for "denigrating Turkishness", which Amnesty International denounced as "part of an emerging pattern of harassment against the journalist exercising his right to freedom of expression." Dink’s assassin, allegedly Ogun Samast, a young ultra-nationalist Turk, fired three shots at his head from the back at point-blank range in front of his office building. Dink is survived by his wife Rakel and three children. The death of the well-liked journalist and human rights activist unleashed a barrage of international condemnation against the Turkish state for breeding an atmosphere of intolerance and terror. At Dink’s January 23 funeral, more than 100,000 Turks poured into the streets of Istanbul to mourn Dink and protest his assassination. Many carried placards declaring "We are all Hrant" and "We are all Armenian". "Hrant Dink personified the noble and civilized pursuit of justice and reconciliation against an edifice of falsehood and deception," said Armen K. Hovannisian, a founding member and former chair of the Armenian Bar Association. "His reward for delivering truth to power was three bullets to the head. One can only conclude that the Turkish Government is scared out of its mind that the day soon approaches when it will have no choice but to come clean about the Armenian Genocide." Organizations sponsoring the event run the gamut of the large community’s organizations. They include the Western Diocese and Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Armenian Missionary Association of America, the Armenian Catholic community, Armenian National Committee, Armenian Assembly, Armenian Council of America, Armenian Rights Council of America, Armenian General Benevolent Union, Armenian Relief Society, Nor Serount Cultural Association, Armenian Youth Association of California, Armenian Bar Association, Armenian Studies Program at UCLA, Armenian Students’ Associations, Organization of Istanbul Armenia’s, Kessab Educational Association, and Friends of Armenia, among others. "This is truly an historic occasion," said Lucy Varpetian, Senior Assistant City Attorney of the City of Glendale. "Just as a national tragedy makes us forget our differences, even if temporarily, so has Hrant Dink’s death caused Turks and Armenia’s to express solidarity in fundamental values." The tribute will take place on Sunday, March 11, 5:00-7:00 p.m., at the Glendale Civic Auditorium.

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