Dinner for Rakel Dink at Diocese


By Taleen Babayan
Mirror-Spectator Staff

NEW YORK — Over the course of two days, Rakel Dink, the widow of
Hrant Dink, was toasted and feted here for her struggle to continue her
husband’s legacy.

More than 50 people gathered for a dinner in honor of Dink at Kavookjian
Hall in St. Vartan Cathedral on Thursday, April 4, organized by the
Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA), Essayan-Getronagan, Tibrevank,
Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), Constantinople Armenian
Relief Society (CARS) and the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America,
under the Auspices of Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.

Because Dink was in New York to receive an award at Fordham University,
these organizations took advantage of the opportunity and arranged an informal
dinner with Dink to honor her late husband’s memory. Fr. Haigazoun
Najarian, Diocesan vicar general, gave the opening prayer. Several speakers followed.

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, legate and ecumenical officer of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), said he last saw Dink in Washington, DC when he had come to meet those involved with Armenian issues in the nation’s capital.

Hagop Vartivarian spoke on behalf of the TCA. Vartivarian traveled to Istanbul last year and encouraged those in attendance to go as well because Armenians have a significant cultural center there.

While there, he made it a point to visit Dink’s grave and met Rakel Dink and her family. “The next generation is ready to continue Hrant’s work,” Vartivarian said. “Hrant has a big place in our hearts and souls.”

Hrant Dink’s life was cut short on January 19, 2007, and one more martyr was added to the 1.5 million, 92 years after the Genocide, said Berj Araz of CARS. Because of his work, Dink knew there was a risk against his life and his friends would warn him to be careful and he would do the same for them. “His death burned the hearts of his family as well as all Armenians and millions around the world,” said Araz. Touched by everyone’s heartfelt messages and kind words, Rakel Dink thanked everyone for coming to the dinner. “We need to continue Hrant Dink’s voice and not to cut off his voice,” she said, adding her children are on the same path as their father because they believed in what he did.

Barsamian made closing remarks and recalled meeting Rakel Dink in Turkey after her husband’s death. He said he went to convey Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II’s condolences.

The following evening, Dink received the 2008 Armenian American Society for Studies
on Stress and Genocide (AASSSG) Outstanding Achievement Award at Fordham Law School here.

The honoring of Dink was the highlight of ASSSG’s symposium titled “Transforming Roots of Evil: Continued Challenges for Denial of Mass Human Right Violations.” The symposium began with classical music performed by the Quartet T, who was introduced by Yetvart Majian, treasurer of AASSSG. The quartet, which consists of members Kristi Helberg, Amie Weiss, You-Young Kim and Jane O’Hara, played five folk songs by Komitas.

The eighth-graders of the Hovnanian Armenian School presented a special tribute to
Hrant Dink about his life and ideas with a slideshow presentation. They first showed this presentation on March 4, 2007 during a memorial ceremony for Hrant Dink.

Zarmine Boghosian, principal of the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School in Bayside, recited a poem she wrote herself after Dink’s assassination. Kumru Toktamis, a professor at the Pratt Institute, and a Turkish citizen and activist, also recited a poem.

Kalayjian, president of AASSSG and chair of the symposium, presented Rakel Dink with a plaque and said it was an honor to give her this award.

Dink spoke in Armenian, which was translated into English by Elvin Korogluyan. “My husband Hrant Dink was the protector of human rights. He wrote and spoke freely knowing his life was in danger,” Dink began. She said he believed in his county and paid a high price with his life.

It was indeed an emotional and sad evening, but the standing-room-only crowd was encouraged by Dink’s words and hope. She recalled that after her husband’s murder, her daughter said it reminded her of the Genocide of 1915. Dink said that was not true because they had a family, a home and a homeland. “We are gathered now. In 1915, maybe there was one person left in each family.” Dink’s courage and strength served as an inspiration to those in attendance. “If Turkey wants to have a clear and bright future, now is it chance. It has to investigate this situation,” concluded Dink.

The event was hosted by: AASSSG, Fordham Psychology Association, SPSSI NY, Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention, Fordham Psi Chi and Meaningfulworld.