Hrant Dink shot dead

Hrant Dink, an Armenian-Turkish journalist who won fame and notoriety for challenging Turkish nationalism, was shot dead in Istanbul yesterday.

If you’re not following events in Turkey closely, you might not have heard of Hrant Dink. Briefly: he was an ethnic Armenian but born and raised in Turkey. The genocide didn’t kill or expel all of Turkey’s Armenians, quite; there are still about 50,000 of them, mostly living in or around Istanbul. Dink was the editor of the Armenian community’s newspaper, Agos, and also its most prominent public intellectual.

Dink got into trouble with Turkish authorities for two things: he insisted on the reality of the Armenian Genocide, and he openly discussed the ambiguous position of ethnic and religious minorities in the Turkish state. Dink wrote about how, as a boy, he had to sing the Turkish national anthem every day in school: “I am a Turk, I am hard working and honest… happy is he who calls himself a Turk… great is our race.” It made him think, he wrote: who am I? If not a Turk, then what?

“As a child, I didn’t know what it meant to be Turkish or Armenian. At Armenian boarding school in Istanbul, I recited the Turkish credo every morning, but I was also told I should preserve my Armenian identity. I never came across my own name in school books – only Turkish names. As an adolescent, I heard the word ‘Armenian’ used as a swearword. As a Turkish citizen, I saw high-court decisions that referred to Armenians as ‘foreigners living in Turkey’. The Armenian orphanage that I worked so hard to establish was confiscated by the state.”

“Even if you flee from that sense of history”, he adds, “history doesn’t let go of you. In Turkey, you face so many attacks against the Armenian identity that you find yourself in a defensive position whether you want it or not. During the 1970s, there was news of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (Asala) and the killing of Turkish diplomats. My identity was always other, and often belittled. I saw again and again that I was different. Many people who were like me were leaving this country, but I didn’t want to leave – I wanted to stay and fight for what I thought was right.

“In the end, I decided that how they defined me wasn’t important. I had to define myself. I am an Armenian of Turkey, and a good Turkish citizen. I believe in the republic, in fact I would like it to become stronger and more democratic. I don’t want my country to be divided, but I want all the citizens to be able to live fully and contribute their diversity to this society – as a source of richness.”

Dink was convicted last year of “insulting Turkishness”, in a decision that most observers agree was highly dubious. His conviction received relatively little publicity, partly because he got a suspended sentence. However, in the year or so since the conviction, he had been receiving death threats almost every day. He seriously considered leaving the country but decided to stay on; it was, after all, his country.

On the plus side, there has been an outpouring of public grief and outrage in Turkey, among Turks as well as Armenians. The Prime Minister has publicly condemned the killing and there have been several large, well-attended memorial services and protests.

R.I.P. a brave man, Hrant Dink.

11 thoughts on “Hrant Dink shot dead

  1. As a Turkish christian, I believe whoever shot Dink harmed Turkey so much. It is interesting timing, just when Armenian “genocide” is about to be passed from the USA parliement -and when Turkey is to get into the EU. Maybe there really are some people in the world who really do not want to see Turkish people being well off. Living in Istanbul I was never made felt an alien or a foreigner. I believe the racism of Turks is wildly exaggerated. If Turks wanted to “ethnically cleanse” 1) I wouldnot be here, 2) thousands of Armenian-Turks, Greek-Turks and Jew-Turks would not be living in Turkey with total religous freedom 3)Armenians would be killed, not deported 4)They would not be allowed back in after the war 5)Turkey would not request an international tribunal to investigate the allegations -only to be rejected by the Armenians…
    Yes people got killed. Also the Turkish muslims were killed, when during 1st WW Armenians were given weapons by the Russians and made fight with their neighbours with a promise of land after the war. To call this tragedy a genocide is not helping anyone. Turks get more nationalistic and into the noone-loves-us mood, Armenians are brainwashed to find a common identity and believe Turks are hairy monsters. Maybe the only ones who benefit are the EU right wing who take up every chance to demoralize Turkey. We were so much mixed racially before the war that today when you put a Turk and an Armenian side by side you would’nt understand which is which. Isn’t it sad?

  2. i just wana say that it was really what happened to hrant dink it was a murder . also i wana tell u that about the armenian genoside it was not a brayn wash to the armenians it was a reall story and the ussr didnt help armenians in any way.

  3. I’m also turkish, from a muslim family. since yesterday, i cried my heart out, still crying… he’s not the first journalist that was murdered, but hopefully he’ll be the last one.

    right now, i don’t care about the Turkey-EU-genocide triangle or the turkish image in the international arena. what i care is freedom of thought. what i see on the news is the dead body of a honest man, not politics. This issue is a huge taboo for both sides, turks cannot stand hearing “it WAS” and armenians got crazy when they hear “it was NOT”. technically, there is no solution: because we have no diplomatic relations with Armenia! few people who try to create a platform for discussion are murdered.

    8,000 people marched yesterday, protesting and calling for “brotherhood of nations”. when did we lose this brotherhood? i dont know. all i know is that if this freak murderer checks his family tree, he’ll end up with either armenian, greek, jewish or kurdish relatives – there is no pure “turkishness”. this was not an individual action, it goes deeper, so deep that it is out of reach. these fascist brains are cursed by thousands, but the case will not be solved.

    as the poem goes: “they may kill us once today/ but we’ll be reborn in thousands tomorrow”.
    RIP Hrant…

  4. A Turkish Christian will never understand us Turkish ARmenians. We have always been treated differently. Turks anomocity for ARmenians is much greater than anyone cares to understand. I havent stopped crying for nearly 2 days.

  5. Ave is wrong. Non-muslims in Turkey do not have total religious freedom. Greeks aren’t allowed to run their monasteries – the state has forcibly closed them. They can’t train people in the faith in many cases. It’s hard for them to renovate places of worship and build new ones. Turkey does not comply with the UN standards on religious freedom.

    The problem in Turkey is that if you aren’t Muslim of a specific kind, you are foreign, a “dangerous element”, someone who wants to break up Turkey, etc. Even Muslim Alevis have problems. Until Turkey learns to get rid of its cult of “Turkishness” and accept that the country is diverse, many people aren’t culturally Turkish, and that this is not a problem, things like this will continue.

    The problem in Turkey has always been that there aren’t enough liberals. The main groupings are secular nationalists who lean toward hyper-nationalim, militarism, and horrific human-rights abuses and religous fundamentalists who are more accepting of national differences but do not accept secularism or democracy. Until liberalism gets more power in the country, there will continue to be murders, death squads, censorship, judicial persecution, and all the rest.

    Luckily, the trendlines these days are mostly in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go.

  6. Hektor says it right. BUt as an aside, plese not the BBC news pages use quotation marks around the word genocide. Mustn’t upset anyone, must we? Especially not a decidedly iritable and largely Muslim country trying to enter their (The BBC’s) beloved EU.

  7. I think Hrant Dink is a real hero. He knew he could be killed, but he continued talking about truth=Genocide. He will live forever , even with his death he will help the recognition of the Genocide by Turkey.

    One day Turkey will have no choice but to accept it.

    And thanks to God now it is not 1915, that again Turkish government can kill 2 million Armenians and nobody will know about it….

    Times are changed, it is better for Turkish nation to change as well and accept the Genocide and live with peace with its neighbors.

    how can you explain the fact Turkey doesn’t open its borders with Armenia.

    Turkey Are you afraid of that small country Armenia, or you afraid of the Truth, you afraid of Hrant DinkS …??/?

    Wake up…Turkey…you cant do more Genocides….STOP…..

  8. As a person born as a Turkish Muslim, I am appalled and saddened by Hrant Dink’s killing. Every person living in Turkey should be ashamed, as I am. And I know many are, but not enough. Free unhateful speech is not something negotiable in the modern world and modern humanism. We need to wake up before others wake us up rudely. To confront history honestly whatever that may be. Even if it isn’t today’s Turkey who killed or fought Armenians, it will be today’s Turkey who is still living and judged for the past. As for the conspiracy theorists, even if the killing was a provocation, it is still Turkey’s responsibility to address and move beyond the Armenian issue. The day when Turkish comedians joke about things the same way Americans blushingly joke about the “treaty room” might be proof.

  9. Hrant Dink was an honest intellectual,a man of dignity , a father of three children, a man who has been raised in an orphanage and endured the difficulties of life in an early age.

    As a Turk I do not view him from his ethnic origin but as a dignified man who put his views bravely( some of which I disagree)

    We are all deeply affected by his death. I happened to be in istanbul that day and witnessed many people with tears in their eyes.

    Let his soul lie in rest.

  10. As a Turkish citizen living in the US, I am deeply troubled by the assassination of Hrant Dink, especially at a time when Turkey should be the example of a democratic state in the Middle East. I grew up in Bursa and had several Armenian and Jewish friends in high school. We never viewed each other as kids from a different religion or an ethnic background, but as friends who we attend school with.

    I hope this will be a sign for all of us as Turkish citizens to come forward and use the democratic process to voice our opinions.