Monday, 20 January 2014

Thousands turn out in Turkey to pay respects & demand justice for murdered Turkish Armenian Hrant Dink


Thousands of people gathered in Istanbul to remember Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink on the seventh anniversary of his death.Standing outside his Agos newspaper offices on İstiklal Caddesi, where he had been murdered, they demanded justice for Dink and condemned the state for failing him.

World media captured the thousands of people who had assembled at Taksim square to remember the journalist, before marching a short distance to the spot where he had been slain in 2007. A large banner hung below the Agos office window read: “Seven Years, Together They Protected [the perpetrators], Together They Remained Silent”Those waiting to address the crowds were met by a sea of placards, which bore the following messages: “For Hrant, For Justice”, “We are all Hrant, We are all Armenian”, and “We are here Brother”, while others labelled Turkey a “killer state”.

The 52-year old ethnic Armenian was shot in broad daylight outside his offices by Ogün Samast, a 17-year old extreme nationalist, who was tried and found guilty of Dink’s murder. Samast was sentenced to 23 years in jail in 2011. However, other older suspects were all acquitted, a decision recently quashed by Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. Two of the prime suspects, Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, are now being retried. Dink’s family and friends are highly critical of the state’s handling of the case and the failure to bring to justice all those implicated in the crime.

In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey had failed to protect Dink, despite being warned that ultra-nationalists were plotting to kill him. The prominent journalist had long campaigned for Turkey to recognise as “genocide” the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks and was subsequently tried for ‘denigrating Turkishness’.

Dink’s death has brought to the fore the demonization by the Turkish mainstream of such activists – in 2000 Kurdish singer Ahmet Kaya was driven into exile by a hate campaign after he announced he wanted to record in Kurdish – and the right to freely debate the Armenian massacres and other contentious issues in Turkey.

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