Hrant Dink, editor of the Armenian-Turkish language weekly Agos magazine and a well-known commentator on Armenian affairs, was shot dead outside his offices in Istanbul on Friday January 19, 2007. For more information, go to: Turkey: Hrant Dink shot dead.
The prosecution Dink had been facing at the time of his murder, for ‘insulting Turkishness’, was continued after his death, with his son Arat Dink and a colleague from Agos convicted and handed suspended sentences under Article 301 of the Penal Code. To read English PEN’s reaction to these convictions, please see our bulletin.
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.
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 explained that he had 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 said that his aim was to alleviate the tensions between Turkey and Armenia. Dink appealed unsuccessfully against the conviction.
Click here to read Hrant Dink’s speech to the International Publisher’s Association/International PEN panel discussion on Freedom of Expression in Turkey held at the UN Commission on Human Rights in April 2004.
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/honorarymembers/turkey/hrantdink/