Editor of Turkey's Armenian Paper Is Killed

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Fri Jan 19 21:56:55 UTC 2007

>>From the NYTimes, January 19, 2007
Editor of Turkeys Armenian Paper Is Killed

ISTANBUL, Jan. 19  The editor of Turkeys only Armenian-language newspaper

was assassinated today on an Istanbul street. The editor, Hrant Dink, 53,
was convicted last year of insulting the Turkish state and identity
because of comments he made about the mass deaths of ethnic Armenians
before World War I in what is now Turkey events that Armenians and many
foreign historians say was genocide by the Ottoman army, but the Turkish
government denies took place. Mr. Dink also criticized ethnic Armenians
abroad for trying to make official Turkish recognition of those events a
precondition for Turkish entry into the European Union, but that stance
attracted less attention.

Mr. Dink was leaving the office of his newspaper, Agos, in the Sisli
district of Istanbul early in the afternoon when he was gunned down in
front of the building by one or more assailants, the semiofficial
Anatolian News Agency reported today. Nuran Agan, 47, a colleague of Mr.
Dinks at Agos, sounded shaken as she described an ordinary day before he
left the office. I heard three gunshots after he left, but never
associated it with him, Ms. Agan said. When she rushed downstairs to find
out what had happened, she saw Mr. Dink lying in a pool of blood on the
ground with a bullet wound in the back of his head. He received lots of
threats, and had requested protection. Ms. Agan said.

Television images broadcast live from the scene of the incident showed
large crowds gathered nearby behind police cordons, and Mr. Dinks body
lying on the ground, awaiting the arrival of ambulances delayed by the
traffic clogging the busy commercial district around the office. The
Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a written statement condemning the attack.
Later in the day, the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in a
broadcast news conference that the killing was a direct attack on Turkeys
peace and stability. A bullet was fired at freedom of thought and
democratic life in Turkey, Mr. Erdogan said.

Witnesses told the police that they saw a young man in a white cap running
away immediately after the shots were fired, according to a news report on
NTV television. The police said they had detained two suspects in central
Istanbul in connection with the attack. Mr. Dink was prosecuted late last
year under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, a controversial
provision that makes negative remarks about Turkishness or the Turkish
state a crime. It has been used to try several prominent intellectuals in
recent years, and has been criticized by the European Union as an
infringement on free speech. An Istanbul court interpreted several
comments Mr. Dink made as an insult to the Turkish identity. It sentenced
him to six months in jail and then suspended the sentence.

In a recent article in Agos, Mr. Dink complained that extreme nationalists
opponents were casting him as an enemy of Turks, and said the increasing
threats against him were weighing on him. I do not know how real these
threats are, but whats really unbearable is the psychological torture that
Im living in, he wrote. Like a pigeon, turning my head up and down, left
and right, my head quickly rotating. Haluk Sahin, a columnist for Radikal,
a newspaper that has strongly supported Mr. Dinks legal struggle as an
intellectual, said that Turkey had been hit right in the heart by his

Those who wanted to harm Turkey couldnt have chosen a better target, Mr.
Sahin said. As opposed to other killings in the past, Turkish public
reaction against this murder will show us where Turkey stands in the
world. Shortly after the shooting, crowds gathered in front of Mr. Dinks
office and chanted Shoulder to shoulder against fascism and We are all
Hrant, we are all Armenians. NTV reported that the police are reviewing
surveillance-camera videotapes from retail shops in the block in the hope
that they recorded images of the suspects described by witnesses.


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