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Turkey is Typing…the Death of Hrant Dink

While normally this column focuses on what only Turkish bloggers are saying, sometimes events happen that warrant the voices of not only Turkish points-of-views but others as well. The Death of Hrant Dink is one of those moments.

As a bit of background- Hrant Dink was a Turkish-Armenian journalist and editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos. Convicted in 2005 of “insulting Turkishness”, Dink has been seen as the champion of the Armenian cause in Turkey. He was gunned down in Istanbul, in broad daylight on January 19th. According to news reports, a suspect in the shooting have been detained, but speculation on who is really to blame for this political assassination continues.

“We are all Armenians, We are all Hrant Dink.”

To much surprise (which I will show in a few more paragraphs) citizens of Turkey took to the streets chanting “We are all Armenians, We are all Hrant Dink”. Erkan's Field Diary reports of widespread Turkish condemnation of the murder and also points out that Dink is the 62nd Turkish journalist that has been assassinated since the founding of the Republic of Turkey. Metroblogging Istanbul has photos of the protests.

The Infidel writes:

Hrant Dink was murdered in a heinous and cowardly way, most likely, by some brainless and lost ultra-nationalist Turkish young man, who I hope will be brought to justice as soon as possible. I am deeply saddened by Hrant's death because I believe that he had good intentions for Turkey and the Turkish people. Although I don't agree with everything he said and wrote, it is clear that he was a peaceful activist voicing his norm-opposing views to raise awareness, which is the bread and butter of any democracy. No human being should be persecuted for his/her opinions in any country, but especially in Turkey.

James in Turkey expresses surprise and anger over the shooting:

I am angry. I am angry because there are people out there who seem to think it is perfectly justified to kill a man who speaks contrary views. I have a perfectly clear idea of who I think is responsible, but there is little use in churning out conspiracy theories now. Suffice to point out that it was in a crowded street, on a busy morning. This was no impulsive killing.

Spooky Sense by Garfucious writes a letter to Dink stating: “sorry, hrant dink. not only have they killed you, they've also choked your voice.”

Talk Turkey urges Turkey to use this assassination as a beginning point for real discussion to take place about the Armenian Genocide to better Turkey's chances of getting in the EU:

I am sick and tired of the ‘business as usual’ attitude shown by Turks and the Turkish government up to now and extending even beyond this latest assassination to silence the voices of reason. Wake up Turks in Turkey and abroad! And prepare to not only ‘debate’ this issue (but act on it as well,) of Turkey's greatest taboo, unilaterally if need be. But settle this once and for all.

Most Turkish blogs choose to show they shock and remorse by placing simple messages of solidarity and obituaries on their sites, such as Mavi Boncuk, the White Path, and Amerikan Turk.

Who Does This Belong To?

The death of Hrant Dink is not just a Turkish issue, but one of concern to many. Michael Levy writing for the Brittanica.com blog sprouts an excellent comment discussion between Turkish and Armenian bloggers with his post:

Though it’s probably asking too much, hopefully Dink’s death will cause a reexamination of the Turkish constitution’s Article 301, which makes it illegal to “denigrate Turkishness,” and the treatment of individuals who hold views that run counter to those of the majority of Turks, and lead to a real debate whereby people who hold such contrarian views–not only in Turkey but elsewhere–can make their claims without fear of prison time or death threats.

Robert Fisk from the Independent called Dink the 1,500,001st victim of the Armenian genocide. iArarat, an Armenian blog, described the situation thus:

The murder of Hrant Dink has shocked many. It did not come however as a surprise to many of us who have been closely following political and social developments in Turkey. To many of us the hand that pulled the trigger ending Hrant’s precious life is the same hand that signed the orders to put Armenians of the Ottoman Empire to death en masse. It is a metaphysical continuity, a logical outcome of an ideology that resists tolerance and bona fide towards the other, the outsider, the gavur, the Armenian. And never mind the that the murdered is an Armenian, the political opportunists in Turkey and their hired pens in the Turkish media were quick to capitalize on the tragedy of Hrant’s murder and proclaim that the murder was aimed at the identity of the Turks, their international image and prestige.

The Blogian writes about how Turkey is solely to blame for the assassination while Blogrel (another pro-Armenian blog) only speculates:

It would be interesting to find out if this teen acted alone or had ties to a group. I doubt we will ever know the authentic truth.

It’s been a very difficult news event for me to follow and reflect upon. From what I can gather, this man was very much loved and respected by not only community ethnic Armenians but by the activist/progressive Turkish community.

Blogrel further speculates:

Whilst this is a tragedy, and a great, great loss. I wonder if there are some people who may seek to use this event as both publicity for the Armenian Genocide ( lets face it, it has been on major news screens today) , and also a chance to insult Turkey. I worry that statements like that of Tigran Torosyan do nothing but agitate an already tense situation. It is naieve to consider that the assassination of Hrant Dink should make Turkey not “even dream” of European Union entry. It is also a bad reflection on the Armenian official position – and I am waiting to hear a comment that suggests this is some kind of Armenian perpertration. It is really time for our Armenian politicians to think carefully about the way they react to this murder.

The best source for information on vigils and reactions to the death of Hrant Dink in Armenia is provided by OneWorld Multimedia. The most hopeful post about the shooting and what it's future implications could be comes from Neweurasia “Hrant Dink- Bringing Armenians and Turks together?” It is an excellent question, one which I hope will be answered sooner rather than later.

  • Pingback: Oneworld Multimedia

  • http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/author/joria/ Jordan & Maria Seidel

    The Eurocrats will be watching how Turkey handles this I suspect, but really it seems that Turkey can do a lot of good here…do you know what the EU is saying about this? Personally, I don’t think calling Dink another victim of the Armenian genocide will help at all, it comboines two separate issues. I hope that responsible journalists will add some distinctions. Don’t you?

  • Hamid Tehrani

    One thing that many ignore is the rise of ultra nationalism in Turkey.

  • http://ditord.blogspot.com/2007/01/my-only-weapon-was-my-sincerity-hrant.html Observer

    Despite the restarted propoganda wars on the internet I still belive in the Turkish people. No people can be classified as “bad”, “fascist”, or one with “poisonous blood”, or “race of murderers” – it is simply NOT ACCEPTABLE. The Turkish people, thousands of them went on streets saying: “We are all Hrant Dink…We are all Armenian..” in an amazing act of solidarity to Hrant Dink, Armenian, their follow citizen. We [Armenians] must be stong now and not give way to provocation.

  • http://www.blogian.net Blogian

    My “pro-Armenian” post “about how Turkey is solely to blame for the assassination” was a republished article by a Turkish journalist, Ayse Gunaysu.

  • http://www.talkturkey.us metin

    Turks should not have the exclusivity on ‘Turkishness!’ And as such, insulting ‘Turkishness’ should alarm even those who may benefit from a culture of civility and tolerance, whether they are Kurds, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, and/or Christians, (as well as Muslims,) without borders.

    A rise in ‘nationalism’ should not result in a racial divide. Instead, if it involves the inclusion of ease of restrictions and the removal of ethnic borders when it comes to critical thinking, it may be a unifying factor. But first, article 301 must be abolished, and voices of reason must be heard, even at the expense of the abusers of freedoms who might suffer from such a feat in their own divisive aspirations.

  • http://oneworld.blogsome.com Onnik Krikorian

    I have to agree with Simon at Blogian. Why use the term “pro-Armenian blog” when “Armenian blog” is what it is. Besides, I’ve yet to see any international media report on Dink’s murder that couldn’t be termed “pro-Armenian” or should I say “factual.” Anyway.

  • Deborah Ann Dilley

    The “pro-Armenian” term is my fault really. I was dealing with unfamiliar territory with some of the newer blogs I was looking at for my article…and wasn’t sure which would be a better term.

  • http://www.talkturkey.us metin

    Has anyone researched the existence of any relationship between Armenian minorities in Turkey and Turkish minority in Armenia (if there are any?) Are there any examples of tolerance and civility shown by either or both sides on this interesting relationship that has existed between the two for hundreds of years. Are there any truths to inter-relationships and inter-marriages between the two groups that would suggest Armenian blood flowing in Turkish veins and vice versa? Is differing religious affiliation really the key to understanding Turkey’s indifference toward the Armenian argument, and if so, why is the same indifference shown to Muslim Kurds? Is the same true in reverse? Should the religious ‘figureheads’ on each side be held accountable for their political actions or inactions? And should we allow politicians to destroy what can be a fruitful relationship between the two sides who may be able to settle their passionate standings by a forced debate of the issues on their own and without intervention by the hate mongers?

  • http://www.americanturk.blogspot.com Murat Altinbasak

    Metin: Settle what?? There are no black and white resolutions here.. More like a labrynthe of smoke and mirrors to navigate through.
    Reading some of the more militant blogs of those who clearly hate everything which Turkey stands for, and for which Turks died and continue to die for, I can’t help but feel as if the sudden dissipation of Article 301 will have a very high price. It will define the positions of those who now conceal themselves. Like turning on a light switch during a nightmare and revealing all of the demons which were hidden by the darkness. Chaos? Anarchy? Civil war? It frustrates me that nationalism is classified as a dirty curse word when it comes to Turkey, and it’s called “patriotism” when it comes to others. I’ll repeat myself from a previous blog entry: Love for one’s country isn’t a symptom of Nationalism. It’s the other way around.
    To me, nationalism is a unification of ethnicities under one flag. Those who refuse to salute Turkey’s flag and pledge allegiance to it, would do better to relocate to the United States. Then again, the Patriot Act enables the US government to secretly screen for and identify and eliminate threats to national security.. Sure you can burn flags and criticise the government to your heart’s content, but chanting ‘death to America’ here in the US has about the same effect as “insulting Turkishness”, it would seem. How many Muslims are now imprisoned in the US’ secret prisons without charges? without legal rights or representation? Sorry to digress, but the Patriot Act and Article 301 have a lot in common, at least in terms of purpose. That doesn’t make either of them correct, just possibly necessary, for now.

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