Slain Armenian-Turkish journalist commemorated as case drags on into 14th year

A large crowd of people assembled on Sunday to commemorate Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink 13 years after his assassination in Istanbul.

Hrant Dink was the founder and editor in chief of the Agos newspaper, which circulates in both Turkish and Armenian languages in Turkey.

Dink was gunned down on January 19, 2007, in the front of the office building of Agos newspaper by then-17-year-old Ogun Samast, a self-defined “nationalist.”

Family members, his friends – an association called Hrant’s Friends – and thousands of people gathered in remembrance of the slain journalist to mark the 13th anniversary of his murder at the time and place where he was shot dead.

A giant banner bearing Dink’s picture and reading “It is not late to be ashamed” was seen hanging outside the Agos’s building.

The crowd chanted, “We are all Hrant, we are all Armenians” to show solidarity with Dink.

The commemoration service started at 03:00 pm local time, at the exact hour the slain journalist was assassinated.

Sezgin Tanrikulu and Ali Seker, MPs from the Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP); Garo Paylan, Oya Ersoy and Erol Katircioglu, MPs from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the CHP’s Istanbul head Canan Kaftancioglu and former HDP MP Sirri Sureyya Onder were also present, along with several prominent rights activists, opposition figures, and journalists.

Jailed pro-Kurdish politician Selehattin Demirtas and businessman Osman Kavala, both held in the infamous prison of Silivri in Istanbul, sent their messages to the service to commemorate Dink.

In a statement released by Hrant’s Friends, Sebnem Korur Fincancioglu -a well-known rights activist and an academic- was quoted as saying, “The quest for justice has never come to an end. Hrant had never given up to seek justice, even though they imprisoned those crying out the truth and cracked down on us by resorting to inhuman methods. So none of us will give up too.”

Dink was a vocal critic of Turkey’s restrictions on freedom of speech regarding the 1915 Armenian genocide. Turkish nationalist factions were heavily critical of and objected to his articles and discourse on the issue.

He was tried in a case over one of his columns on the charge of violating an article of the Turkish Penal Code, which makes it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish nation, Turkish government institutions, or Turkish national heroes. Although the parliament amended the article many times before, the interpretation by the judicial branch remained more or less the same.

Orhan Pamuk, a Nobel laureate Turkish novelist, also faced charges stemming from the same article, over an interview in which he said 30,000 Kurds and one million Ottoman Armenians were killed in Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century.

Yasin Hayal, a defendant in Dink’s murder case, threatened Pamuk, shouting, “Orhan Pamuk, be smart, be smart! [watch your step]” as he was being brought into an Istanbul courtroom, in 2007.

Throughout the court case on Dink’s murder, allegations of police and Turkish intelligence service (MIT) involvement in the plot surfaced.

Many high-ranking police officers, including the head of Istanbul’s police department, appeared in court as defendants over their alleged role in Dink’s killing.

The lengthy trial has seen over a hundred hearings in the past 13 years, with the next one set for February 18.

Turkey’s top court rejects slain journalist’s family appeal

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