Taking Grassroots Activism to the Next Level

Archive for January, 2007

Silence is a killer – Today’s columnist

January 25th, 2007 by

“I may see myself as frightened as a pigeon, but I know that in this country people do not touch pigeons,” wrote Hrant Dink, the beloved Armenian Turkish journalist, in his last column on Friday. Today, thousands will attend his funeral service in Istanbul, expressing their pain at his murder and their shame over losing him, the first Armenian-Turk to fall victim to a political murder. Turks have also taken to the streets to support “freedom of speech” at this magnitude for the first time in the republic’s history.

Mr. Dink believed that the mass killings of Armenians during and after World War I constituted genocide, and he angered the extreme right with his position. About a year ago, he stood trial under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which criminalizes insults to Turkey, its government or the national character. Now that law has criminalized Turkey. Now those so-called Turkish nationalists are responsible for showing the world a country that is immoderate, uncivilized and intolerant. Those marching in Istanbul feel even more shamed over the mindset of those so-called nationalists in the name of protecting Turkey’s interests. The scenes of aggressive verbal and nearly physical attacks during the trial of Mr. Dink and other prominent Turkish journalists will be remembered in history as the dark face of Turkey. [Read More]

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Robert Fisk: Award-winning writer shot by assassin in Istanbul street

January 24th, 2007 by

Hrant Dink became the 1,500,001st victim of the Armenian genocide yesterday. An educated and generous journalist and academic – editor of the weekly Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos – he tried to create a dialogue between the two nations to reach a common narrative of the 20th century’s first holocaust. And he paid the price: two bullets shot into his head and two into his body by an assassin in the streets of Istanbul yesterday afternoon.
It was not only a frightful blow to Turkey’s surviving Armenian community but a shattering reversal to Turkey’s hope of joining the European Union, a visionary proposal already endangered by the country’s broken relations with Cyprus and its refusal to acknowledge the genocide for what it was: the deliberate mass killing of an entire race of Christian people – 1,500,000 in all – by the country’s Ottoman Turkish government in 1915. Winston Churchill was among the first to call it a holocaust but to this day, the Turkish authorities deny such a definition, ignoring documents which Turkey’s own historians have unearthed to prove the government’s genocidal intent. [Read More]

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Tens of thousands mourn Turkish-Armenian editor

January 24th, 2007 by

As many as 100,000 people filed silently through Istanbul on Tuesday to pay their last respects to Turkish Armenian editor Hrant Dink, whose murder has stirred debate about the influence of hardline nationalism in Turkey.
From early morning, tearful mourners, many holding identical black-and-white signs reading “We are all Hrant Dink” and “We are all Armenians,” gathered outside the Agos newspaper office where Dink was shot three times in broad daylight last Friday.
White doves were released into the air as somber music played. Much of downtown Istanbul, a sprawling city of some 12 million set on the Bosphorus waterway, was closed to traffic. [Read More]

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L.A. Armenians denounce slaying of Turkish editor

January 23rd, 2007 by

Members of Los Angeles’ vast Armenian American community gathered outside the Turkish Consulate on Saturday to condemn the killing of prominent newspaper editor Hrant Dink, who was shot Friday on a downtown street in Istanbul after repeated run-ins with Turkish authorities.

Dink, who ran Turkey’s only Armenian-language newspaper, clashed with Turkish officials over the government’s denial of the Armenian genocide, the killing of 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey starting in 1915. The government position is that the deaths were part of a civil conflict in which Muslim Turks and Christian Armenians were killed.

“We are all here because we are shocked and outraged at the latest example of intolerance displayed in Istanbul,” Zanku Armenian, a board member of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, told about 50 people gathered outside the consulate in Los Angeles. [Read More]

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Italy’s Prodi condemns murder of ethnic Armenian journalist ahead of visit to Turkey

January 23rd, 2007 by

International Herald Tribune
Italian Premier Romano Prodi condemned the killing in Istanbul of an ethnic Armenian journalist, in comments published Monday ahead of a two-day visit to Turkey.

“It is a very serious episode on which I hope full light will be shed,” Prodi said in an interview with Turkish newspaper Sabah. An Italian transcript of the interview was circulated by the premier’s office in Rome.

The slaying of Hrant Dink outside his newspaper’s office last week shocked the nation and highlighted the precarious state of freedom of expression in a country that is vying for European Union membership. Prosecutors said Sunday that a Turkish teenager has confessed to the killing. [Read More]

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In Turkey, a year of attacks and trials

January 23rd, 2007 by

— Jan. 19, 2007: Hrant Dink, editor of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, is slain by a gunman in Istanbul.

— Dec. 19, 2006: Writer Ipek Calislar acquitted of insulting Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in a biography in which she said Ataturk dressed as a woman to escape an assassination attempt.

— Nov. 1, 2006: Archaeologist Ilmiye Cig acquitted of inciting religious hatred by claiming that Islamic-style head scarves were first used more than 5,000 years ago by priestesses initiating young men into sex.

— Sept. 21, 2006: Author Elif Safak acquitted of “insulting Turkishness” for her fictional characters’ statements about the killings of Armenians. [Read More]

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The Murder of Hrant Dink

January 23rd, 2007 by

“I feel like a pigeon,” Hrant Dink wrote in his last article. “Like a pigeon I wander uneasily amidst this city, watching my back constantly, so timid and yet, so free.” That pigeon was gunned down Friday by a young Turkish fanatic on one of the most crowded streets of Istanbul.

Few people can inspire a whole nation in their lifetime, fewer still with their death. Hrant Dink did both. He was a prominent journalist, the editor of the Armenian weekly Agos, an outspoken intellectual, a peace activist, a true citizen of Istanbul and a dear friend. When the news of his assassination broke, thousands poured into the streets, chanting, “We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenian!” People slept in front of his office, guarding the spot where he’d fallen with candles and flowers. [Read More]

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