Hrant Dink Shot Dead in Turkey
The assassination of Hrant Dink in Istanbul represents the latest in a long line of inhuman acts of violence by Turks against the Armenian people there. While some may use this act of murder to make a statement on Turkey's EU bid/freedom of speech issues in the news media, etc, I think it is totally inappropriate, yet topical. Instead, the focus should be on how time, and time again, the Armenian minority in Turkey is used and abused over and over again. The seemingly empathetic statements made by Erdogan fall on deaf ears because if they truly valued Hrant Dink as a unique voice in their "mosaic of nationalities", they would not have tried him for "insulting Turkishness" and would have protected him against valid death threats that Dink had received recently. While this act of madness should not reflect totally on the Turkish people, it does shine a bright light on the continuing national campaign of eradication of Armenians from that troubled country going back to as far as history will let us. Whether it is subtle or overt, the plain truth is that they just don't want Armenians there no matter what sweet words are uttered by politicians or plain-folk alike.
Hrant Dink was truly in difficult position. On one hand, he had to represent the Armenian voice in Turkey while being careful to prevent a violent backlash against his people. Thus, carefully tailored words and actions were his trademark aimed at making the Armenian situation in Turkey better known. In other cases, Dink displayed a brash personality that got under the skin of Turkish nationalists by championing free-speech from any nationality- Armenian or otherwise. At one point, Mr. Dink thought of leaving Turkey stating that he did not want to live in a place "where he was not wanted" and where Armenians were hated so much. He broke down in tears during an Associated Press interview when he spoke those words. He chose to stay.
What a true hero this guy was. He really took the hit for those who believe in freedom of speech, ethnic pride/expression, and historical accuracy. Even for those moderate Turks who believed in all of these values and fight for them on a daily basis. Unfortunately, he lived in a country where those values from the top are not respected at this time. I suppose I should say the right thing and get out my peace sign. But, I can't. Even as much as I wish I could and would be the politically correct thing to do. The fact is that most Turks believe they should have finished the job on Armenians almost a hundred years ago. Go to blogs, read comments on the internet, and imagine the hatred that Mr. Dink had to endure for years. This is all real, and Hrant Dink's assassination proves it. This was no random act, it was a message.
Watch and listen in the next few days the comments of the Turkish government. I am more than sure that they will display little or no sorrow for Dink's family, the Armenian community, or their responsibility to finally admit their past genocidal ways against their prominent ethnic minority. Instead, I am going to guarantee that the Turkish government will convey how Dink's killing will affect their IMAGE in the public eye now that EU membership is at play. In effect, a murderer just completly screwed up the nice and neat little show and tell Turkey is trying to sell to the public. And, that is why I think the focus should be on how Armenians are treated in Turkey, rather than the other issues.
What a terrible way to die, at the hands of monsters.
As published in the New Anatolian, here is an excerpt from Hrant Dink's last column:
"In the beginning I wasn't worried about the investigation of me by the Sisli public prosecutor on suspicion of "insulting Turkishness." It wasn't the first time this had happened. I was already familiar with such a case from Sanliurfa. I had faced three years of trials on the same charge, as at a conference in 2002 I said that in terms of nationality I'm not a Turk, but an Armenian and a Turkey citizen.
I didn't even know what was happening with the cases. I hadn't the slightest interest. Lawyer friends from Sanliurfa attended hearings of the trial in my absence.
When I went to the Sisli prosecutor to give testimony, I was quite unconcerned. I was confident in what I had written and my intent. When the prosecutor evaluated the entirety of my column, not only that specific sentence (which was meaningless in isolation), I knew he would understand that I had no intention to insult Turkishness and the comedy would come to an end. I was quite sure that after the investigation, there would be no charges filed.
I was full of confidence, but incredibly, charges were filed.
Still, I didn't lose my optimism.
I was so sure that, calling into a TV program one night, I told (ultranationalist) lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz, my chief accuser, not to count his chickens too soon, as I wouldn't be sentenced in this case and if I were, I would leave the country.
Just as an expert report of a commission of Istanbul University scholars presented to the court said the same.
There was no reason to worry, I thought, they would realize their mistake in this or that stage of the case.
But they didn't.
The prosecutor demanded punishment, despite the expert report.
Afterwards, the judge decided to give me six months.
Every time they made me notorious, branding me the "enemy of the Turks."
Fascists attacked me with racist curses in the courthouse.
They assailed me with insults plastered on signs.
The threatening phone calls, letters and e-mails went on for months, and their numbers kept growing.
Asking God to give me patience, I bore this burden while waiting for a verdict of acquittal.
When the verdict was announced, I thought, the reality would be revealed and these people would be ashamed of what they did.
But then the verdict was announced, and my hopes fell.
I found myself in the worst situation a person could be in.
The judge decided his verdict on behalf of the "Turkish nation," and so "insulting Turkishness" went down on my record."