ISTANBUL (Combined Sources) — Thousands of people gathered in the Sisli district of Istanbul to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the assassination of Hrant Dink, a Turkish journalist of Armenian origin on January 19.
The crowd stood in homage at 3:05 p.m., the exact time of Dink’s death, in front of the Agos newspaper building where he was killed. Hidayet Sevkatli Tuksal, a daily Taraf journalist, American linguist Noam Chomsky and Rakel Dink, Dink’s widow, spoke. The crowd also listened to a recorded speech Dink had given prior to his death.
Dink was murdered on January 19, 2007, in front of the offices of Agos, the paper where he worked, by Ogün Samast, a 17-year-old Turkish nationalist. After a two-year trial, Samast was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to 22 years and 10 months in prison.
The court also ruled that Dink’s murder was not an organized crime despite serious claims that some civil servants linked to the “deep state” were “indirectly” involved, to the dismay of Dink’s family.
The Friends of Hrant Dink organization, established in memory of the late journalist, called the event “Buradayiz Ahparig!” (We are here, brother). Following the commemoration, the crowd walked to Taksim square, shouting slogans such as, “We all are Hrant, we all are Armenian.”
Police reportedly intervened in the march, where some people were at risk of being crushed due to the large crowds, and used pepper gas against some demonstrators.
The Friends of Hrant Dink claim that almost all the civil servants who were involved in the death of the journalist have been protected and promoted by the government.
A number of exhibitions, panel discussions and live performances have also been displayed at the Tobacco Warehouse (Tütün Deposu) since the beginning of the week in memory of Dink.
“I feel like a dove in this society, which has to be very vigilant, so I handily swirl my head up and down, right and left, to avoid the danger, but I am not afraid, cause doves are not being shot in this society,” wrote Dink in his last article.
Hrant Dink was posthumously rewarded in 2007 by Armenian President. Dink was among 18 writers, artists and scientists awarded that year from a special presidential endowment set up with the help of French-Armenian philanthropist Robert Bogossian in 2001.
“Armenia is the greatest motherland, and the diaspora is its islands”, Dink once said. Turkish upper circles were well aware of the initiative of Dink’s murder.
The representatives of the civil society of Armenia addressed a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with regard to the possible transfer of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) European Regional Office from Bratislava, Slovakia, to Istanbul. They complained that the country “has committed genocide – the genocide against Armenians living on their own historic motherlands, and parts of the Ottoman Empire, that started in Istanbul on April 24, 1915. Turkey committed also massacres of other national minorities, including Greeks and Assyrians.
All of these crimes are until today blatantly denied by the Turkish authorities, despite the fact that the Armenian Genocide of 1915 has been recognized and condemned by a number of UN member states.” In addition, they noted that it had blockaded Armenia for two decades.
In Turkey, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) submitted a proposal to open a parliamentary inquiry into the murder of Dink. The proposal, submitted to the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office on January 21 by a group of BDP deputies led by deputy parliamentary group chair Idris Baluken, said public servants who neglected their duties deliberately or unintentionally were not investigated at all. (Hurriyet and Armenpress contributed to this report.)