ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)—A new book released last week by journalist Kemal Goktas Goktas explores the role of the Turkish media, government and judiciary system in the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007.
Dink was gunned down in front of the Istanbul based Agos newspaper office, where he was editor-in-chief, on Jan. 19, 2007. At the time he was being tried for “insulting Turkishness” under the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.
One of the factors the book examines is the possible effect of the widespread media coverage of the trial that might have gradually led to him becoming a target. Other authors such as novelist Elif Safak and Nobel winner Orhan Pamuk have also faced prosecution under the same article and widespread media coverage of their trials forced Pamuk to seek refuge abroad fearing for his life while Safak opted for silence.
Goktas, a judiciary reporter at the Ankara office of the daily Vatan since 2002, followed the trials of Dink, Pamuk and Şafak in their entirety. Also a doctorate student at Ankara University at the time, he prepared his thesis on “The press forming public opinion in Turkey–Exemplary event: Transformation of Hrant Dink into a political target.”
He deepened the scope of his work after the murder of Dink. Goktas’s book was released by the Guncel Publishing House last week under the title: “Hrant Dink Cinayeti – Medya, Yargi, Devlet” (The Hrant Dink murder – The Media, Judiciary, State)
In the first chapter of the book, Goktas features in detail how Dink was made into a target after his news story claiming that Sabiha Gokcen–Turkey’s first female pilot and adopted child of Mutsa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic–was of Armenian origin. In this chapter, the statement by the Chief of General Staff after the story’s publication and the media’s attitude is mentioned.
The second chapter deals with the judicial process of the trial based on Article 301 and analyses on how Dink was found guilty despite the expert report commenting to the contrary.
The third chapter focuses on the ties between Dink murder’s and the alleged Ergenekon coup plot. The Ergenekon gang reportedly sought to topple the government by creating social unrest within the country.
The final chapter focuses on the state’s alleged role in the assassination. “The trial of Dink was just as important to us as those of Pamuk, Şafak and other intellectuals but that was a great mistake because Dink was an alienated name due to his ethnic background,” Göktaş told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
Goktas said Dink was expressing his views as an Armenian and a liberal. “He had an original attitude that shook common perceptions. Of course, other intellectuals and writers were also targeted for what they said but the bullets found their way to Dink, not them. We can only explain this by linking it to the values Dink stood for against the common politics and his identity. We already know that the murder was committed with the knowledge of the state.”
Goktas said the reactions that followed the publication of the Gökçen story in the daily Agos are very important ideological indicators. “The mentioned story was both bringing the historical myth into disrepute and pointing to a great danger in terms of the debate on the Armenian problem. Gokcen was both a militarist and the source of pride of modernization. A Turkish woman dropping bombs on separatists in Dersim turning out to be of Armenian origin would hurt that taboo greatly,” Goktas said.
Goktas was among the 10 Turkish journalists that traveled to Armenia last week in a joint venture by the International Hrant Dink Foundation and the Heinrich Boll Foundation. “I went to Armenia for the first time. It was a very impressive trip. The Armenians are experiencing a trauma and mourning passed on from generation to generation. Most of the people I’ve met had their roots in Anatolia; they were very friendly to us,” Goktas said.