Hrant Dink, editor of the Armenian-Turkish language weekly Agos magazine and a well-known commentator on Armenian affairs, is currently on trial for ‘insult to the Turkish state’ following remarks made at a conference in 2002. He faces up to six years’ imprisonment if convicted. He is appealing against a suspended sentence served against him under similar charges in a trial that concluded in October 2005.
The initial proceedings brought against Dink for ‘insult to the Turkish state’ began on 28 April 2005 at a court in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa, where the conference on ‘Global Security, Terror and Human Rights, Multi-culturalism, Minorities and Human Rights’ was held in 2002. Dink, who was not present at the hearing, told Agence France Press from his office in Istanbul that he believed the suit stemmed from his response to a question on what he felt when, at primary school, he had to take an oath with which elementary school days begin in Turkey. The patriotic verse which all students in Turkey have to memorize and recite begins with the lines: “I am a Turk, I am honest, I am hardworking”. “I said that even though I was honest and hardworking, I was not a Turk, I was an Armenian,” Dink explained. He said he also criticized a line in the Turkish national anthem that speaks of “my heroic race”. “I said I did not feel like singing that line because I was against the use of the word ‘race’, which leads to discrimination,” Dink said. He faces up to three years’ imprisonment if convicted. The next trial hearing is due on 9 February 2006.
On 7 October 2005, in another case, Hrant Dink was convicted to a six-months suspended sentence by the Sisli Court of Second Instance in Istanbul. He had been charged for an article published in Agos in which he discussed the impact on present day Armenian diaspora of the killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by the Ottoman army in 1915-17. Almost a century later, the issue remains a fraught one, with several countries calling on Turkey to recognise the events as a genocide. Turkey rejects this, saying that the deaths occurred during a civil war during which Turks were also killed.
The court highlighted a phrase in his article that asked Armenians to reject “the adulterated part of their Turkish blood”, and accused Dink of “insulting Turkish identity”. Dink explains that he has written a series of articles that focussed on Armenian identity and were “a special call to the Armenians in Diaspora who are getting poisoned by their anger towards the Turks”. He says that his aim is to alleviate the tensions between Turkey and Armenia. Dink is appealing against the conviction.
Please send appeals:
Protesting the decision to bring Hrant Dink to trial for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, and requesting that the charges against him be dropped.
Emphasising that the right to freedom of expression is guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory.
The Minister of Justice Mr Cemil Çiçek
Ministry of Justice
06659 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: 90 312 418 5667
Salutation: Dear Minister
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Fax: 90 312 417 0476
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/prisoners/hrantdink/