Turkey: Hrant Dink shot dead

*** UPDATE:The fourth hearing of the Hrant Dink murder trial on 25 February 2008 brought its usual share of tension, as the defendants and Turgut continued to behave aggressively toward the Dink family and its lawyers. However, the court finally reacted to intolerable behaviour of the defendants and their lawyer.

One of the suspects, Yasin Hayal, was removed from the courtroom, as was fellow defendant Erhan Tuncel. According to IFEX, their lawyer Fuat Turgat also “engaged in a stream of hate speech”, reportedly stating about his client Hayal: “My client is not a murderer, unlike the rabid Armenians.” He was given a warning to desist from such comments after that remark, but later said, “Hrant Dink was from TIKKO (the illegal Turkish Workers and Peasants’ Liberation Army) and a registered traitor.” He also said, “Those defending Armenians are Devsirme (i.e. non-Muslims).” Hrant Dink’s daughter, Delal Dink, finally reacted to Turgut’s taunts, protesting to the court: “Enough! When my father was alive he was called an enemy of the Turks and killed. I cannot stand this any longer.” ***

*** UPDATE: The trial against Ogun Samast, the killer of Hrant Dink, and 17 others implicated in his murder, continues, with the next hearing set for 11 February 2008 . On 12 November, the Chief of Public Prosecutions in Trabzon announced that the two police officers who failed to act on information received prior to Dink’s murder will be tried for ‘negligence’. In another trial, held in Istanbul, a 19-year-old youth was given a two-year suspended prison term and issued a personal apology for sending threats by email to Agos after Dink’s murder. Agos lawyers told the court that these emails had been so threatening that several staff had to leave their jobs. In another trial linked to Dink’s death, which opened in early November, a nationalist singer, Ismail Türüt and a composer, Arif Sirin, were accused of ‘praising a criminal’ and ‘inciting enmity and  hostility’ for having performed a song broadcast on YouTube. The song, which was broadcast over a series of images of Hrant Dink’s murder, is accused of having celebrated the killing, praising those who carried it out, and having been an incitement to further violence. The two men face up to seven and a half years in prison. ***

***UPDATE: The trial against Ogun Samast, the killer of Hrant Dink, and 17 others implicated in his murder, continues, with the next hearing set for 1 October 2007. Lawyers representing Dink’s family have protested the decision not to prosecute other police in the Trabzon region for “neglect of duty”. These policemen had been aware of the plan to assassinate Hrant Dink as it was being planned by the group who carried out the killing, but had not taken action. After questioning the officers concerned, the Trabzon Governor’s Office concluded that the police were “not at fault”. ***

 

The respected Turkish-Amenian Journalist Hrant Dink has been shot dead today outside his offices in Istanbul.

For immediate release: Friday 19 January 2007, 18:00

PRESS RELEASE

 

ENGLISH PEN: KILLING OF HRANT DINK IS AN ASSAULT ON FREE SPEECH

English PEN is appalled by the murder in Istanbul today of the Turkish-Armenian writer and journalist Hrant Dink, and demands a full and transparent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death.

As editor of the leading Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, Hrant Dink showed unwavering commitment to resolving the status of Armenians in Turkey. He stood firm in the face of repeated prosecutions under misguided Turkish laws concerning insult to ‘Turkishness’ (such as Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code). In 2005, he was charged and convicted under these laws, and last year the conviction was upheld by a Turkish appeals court. As he left the court, Dink said: ‘I will not be silent. As long as I live here I will go on telling the truth…’ He was facing further hearings in March and April.

Dink was a bold advocate for freedom of expression as a universal human right, and was one of the first to condemn France’s attempt to outlaw denial of the Armenian genocide.

Dink’s lawyer, Fethiye Cetin, reports that Dink was receiving increasing numbers of death threats recently, and one journalist at Agos today alleged that Dink had recently received two veiled threats from people in the Istanbul ‘valilik’ (provincial headquarters).

Jonathan Heawood, Director of English PEN, said: ‘Dink’s murder represents a gross attack on freedom of expression in Turkey, and highlights the urgent need for Article 301 and related Turkish laws to be repealed. Now, more than ever, the Turkish state must signal its commitment to building a genuinely multicultural society, in which difference is tolerated and in which there is space to freely debate Turkey’s past, its present and its future. Dink’s persecution through the courts by nationalist lawyers may have singled him out as a target. Whoever is responsible must be found and brought to justice, to ensure that a new era of political assassinations does not destroy free speech in Turkey.’

Moris Farhi, patron of English PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee, said: ‘Hrant Dink was one of the bravest writers in Turkey, mainly because he was always seeking ways and means to bring Turkish and Armenians together, to redeem the past. And he paid with it for his life.’

Maureen Freely, translator of Orhan Pamuk, said: ‘Hrant Dink had a vision of a Turkey in which peoples of all ethnic groups lived together in harmony. He dared to put this dream into words, and he dared to print them. When he was prosecuted for his words, and subjected to ugly and sustained intimidation inside and outside court, he refused to be intimidated. He continued to publish his newspaper, and he continued to speak his mind. He knew his life was in danger, but he would not leave Istanbul, and those of us who knew and loved him cannot imagine him anywhere else. This is a great loss for Turkey, and for all those who hoped for a democratic future in that country.’

Nouritza Matossian, Turkish-Armenian writer and close friend of Dink’s, said: ‘Hrant Dink was the most remarkable Armenian I ever met. He was the single greatest force for peace and harmony between the Turks and Armenians, and his chief concern was always for people to live in dignity. He is irreplaceable.’

Turkish author, Perihan Magden, said: ‘We have lost a true patriot.’

  

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/turkeyhrantdinkshotdead/

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