Istanbul funeral for slain editor

Tens of thousands of people are taking part in the funeral cortege of murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, following his coffin across Istanbul.

The newspaper editor, 52, was gunned down in the Turkish city on Friday, metres from his offices.

Dink wrote controversial articles about the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I.

Mourners carrying placards reading "We are all Armenians" paused and applauded as they passed the place he was shot.

Many roads have been shut to allow the mourners to proceed to an Armenian Orthodox Church five miles (8km) across the city.

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul says the mourners wish to express their sense of solidarity and horror at the murder.

Many, she says, are already beginning to consider Dink a martyr.

Turkish prosecutors said the teenager suspected of the murder of Dink, shot three times outside his newspaper's offices, had confessed.


Suspects held

Ogun Samast was arrested after he was identified by his father from CCTV images taken near the murder scene.

He was held in the Black Sea port of Samsun together with six other suspects, before being returned to Istanbul for further questioning.



Hrant Dink was one of Turkey's most prominent Armenian voices

One of the suspects was named as Yasin Hayal, a friend of Mr Samast, who has spent 11 months in jail for a 2004 bomb attack outside a McDonald's restaurant in Trabzon.

Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper reported on Monday that during police questioning Mr Hayal said that he had given Mr Samast, aged 16 or 17, the gun and the money.

Investigators say that so far they have found no links between Mr Samast and any known political group.


High security

Turkish officials have said the funeral will be held amid high police presence.

"We have cancelled all leave for police and we will have an adequate force in place," Istanbul governor Muammer Guler said on Monday.

Armenian government officials and religious leaders as well as some members of Turkey's Armenian diaspora have been invited to attend the funeral.

Officials from Yerevan will make the trip despite the fact that Armenia and Turkey have no diplomatic relations.

Dink will be buried at Istanbul's Armenian cemetery after a ceremony a religious service and a ceremony outside the Agos office.



Dink's murder shocked Turkey and Prime Minister Erdogan vowed repeatedly that his killer would be caught.

Journalists and politicians in Turkey have expressed outrage at the killing, which many described as a political assassination, while the US, EU, France, and several human rights groups also voiced shock and condemnation.

Dink had received multiple death threats from nationalists because of his views on the mass killings of Armenians during the final days of the Ottoman Empire.

He was convicted in October 2005 for writing about the Armenian "genocide" in 1915, a claim denied by the authorities in Ankara.

The issue is a sensitive subject in both Armenia and Turkey. Many Armenians have campaigned for the killings to be recognised internationally as genocide.

Turkey admits that many Armenians were killed but it denies any genocide, saying the deaths happened during widespread fighting in World War I.



A Courageous Armenian Voice is Silenced

  Photos and text from BBC

Tens of thousands of people walked silently behind the coffin of murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, in a vast funeral cortege in Istanbul.


The newspaper editor, 53, was gunned down in the Turkish city on Friday, metres from his offices.

Dink wrote controversial articles about the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I.

Mourners carrying placards reading "We are all Armenians" paused and applauded as they passed where he was shot.

From there they walked five miles (8km) to an Armenian Orthodox church, where the funeral service was led by the patriarch. Much of the city centre was closed to traffic.

Priests chanted and doves were released as Dink was buried at Istanbul's Armenian cemetery.Priests chanted and doves were released as Dink was buried at Istanbul's Armenian cemetery.

 Taken from the Gibrahayer Newspaper

 Agence France Presse-June 14, 2007 Thursday - Prosecutors called Thursday for a prison sentence of up to three years for the son of a murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist for reproducing an interview his father gave confirming the Armenian genocide. The public affairs ministry accuses Arat Dink, editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, and his colleague Serikis Seropyan, of "denigrating the Turkish national identity".

    In a July 2006 edition of Agos, they reproduced an interview Hrant Dink gave to a news agency in which he declared that the massacre of Armenians committed between 1915 and 1917 in southeastern Anatolia constituted a genocide. "Of course I say this is a genocide. Because the result itself identifies what it is and gives it a name. You can see that a people who have been living on these lands for 4,000 years have disappeared. This is self-explanatory," Hrant Dink, then editor of Agos, had said.
    At Thursday's hearing Dink accused judges of contributing to his father's death by making him a target thanks to their high-profile judicial proceedings. "I think it is primitive, absurd and dangerous to consider as an insult to Turkish identity the recognition of a historic event as a genocide," he said, quoted by the Anatolia news agency.

     Prosecutors said he should be sentenced to between six months and three years in jail. Hrant Dink, 52, was himself branded a "traitor" by nationalists for urging open debate on the massacres of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire which he labelled as genocide. He was last year given a six-month suspended sentence for insulting "Turkishness" and faced more charges before being shot dead in January outside the offices of Agos, where he was editor at the time.
    The massacre remains a major bone of contention between Armenia and Turkey and two countries and they have not established diplomatic ties since Armenia broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991.
       Ogun Samast, 17, has confessed to shooting Dink. He and 18 other accomplices will be tried from the beginning of July over the murder, believed to have been committed with ultra-nationalist motives.



turks to remember murdered Dink

By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Istanbul

A ceremony is to be held in Istanbul to mark one year since the murder of the ethnic Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink.

Hrant Dink campaigned for his country to confront one of the darkest chapters of its past: the mass killing of Ottoman Armenians in 1915.

He was convicted of "insulting Turkishness", which many say labelled him a traitor to extreme nationalists.

Despite EU pressure on Turkey to change or abolish the law under which he was convicted, Article 301 still remains.

Thousands of people are expected to gather close to the spot where Hrant Dink was murdered.

It was 1457 local time (1257 GMT) - and at that time exactly, one year on, the crowd will mark a moment of silence.



At a short ceremony led by Hrant Dink's close friends and family, they will remember a man who dared to speak out about one of the most sensitive issues there is here - the killing of hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians.

Modern-day Turkey denies it was genocide. Hrant Dink's stance made him a hate figure for extreme nationalists.

But his friends believe it was his conviction under the controversial Article 301 - for "insulting Turkishness" - that singled him out as a target.

The government has long pledged to amend that law, which is a major obstacle to free speech here, and to Turkey's ambitions of EU membership.

Its critics say the revisions it has proposed are superficial at best, but even those have not been agreed on officially, or unveiled, yet.


Dink murder still divides Turks

A year after the killing of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul finds that the Turkish nationalism he challenged remains a potent force.

"Why was I chosen as a target?"

That is the now prophetic-sounding title of an article written by Hrant Dink some time before his murder.

The Turkish-Armenian writer was referring to his trial and conviction for "insulting Turkishness".

A year later Hrant Dink became a physical target, when he was shot and killed in the street. A teenage nationalist, now on trial, has admitted killing him.

To mark the first anniversary of his murder on 19 January, 19 Turkish celebrities have recorded a selection of his articles onto tape.

They are now part of an audio exhibition in an Istanbul side-street, where photos of Hrant Dink gaze down from all the walls.

"The best way to make people know about Hrant Dink is to let him talk himself, with his articles," explains Sibil Cekmen.

She is one of a group of young Turkish Armenians who organised the event.

"I think what's most important is that we remember Hrant Dink not only by crying every 19 January, but by remembering why he was killed and what he was saying. By taking his legacy and carrying it to the future," she says.

'We're all Hrant Dink'

It was Hrant Dink's stance on the mass killing of Ottoman Armenians by Turks in 1915 that led to his murder.

Armenia and more than 20 other countries say it was genocide; Turkey - equally adamant - denies that.

Hrant Dink believed - and wrote - that Turkey must confront and examine that chapter of its past for the sake of all its citizens, including the Armenians.

To some Turks, that was intolerable.

Hrant Dink was shot from behind in broad daylight, just a few metres from the office of his Turkish and Armenian language newspaper, Agos.

A teenage boy from northern Turkey is on trial for murder.

The writer's killing provoked a mass protest in Istanbul.

Tens of thousands of Turks took to the streets. As the coffin passed they shouted "We're all Hrant Dink, we're all Armenian!"

It was an unprecedented act of solidarity with Istanbul's tiny Armenian community.

Hrant Dink's close friend, Karin, calls that a miracle in the current nationalistic climate in Turkey.

But she does not feel that spirit has since spread.

"Let's look. There are more trials; there was a song praising the murder. There are all these attacks against Christian clergy. Do we have anything to be positive about?" Karin asks.

"It was one of the darkest years, but what can we do? We have to go on. But I have no reason to be hopeful."

Like many, Karin believes Hrant Dink was singled out for murder after his trial for "insulting Turkishness", under the now notorious Article 301 of the penal code.

"It was the beginning of the end," she says. "It was a sign - this man is a target, do what you want. That was the message, and the message was understood."


Scars of history


Under pressure from the EU to guarantee free speech, the government has pledged repeatedly to amend the law.

So far it is just talk. Article 301 was used against at least 55 more people in 2007, according to a new report from the organisation Bianet, which monitors press freedoms.

"In Turkey everyone knows they can talk about sensitive issues, but they also know they will probably end up in court," says Bianet editor Erol Onderoglu. "It's a high price to pay."

"We want just to speak and write freely. If people like Hrant Dink want to say what happened in 1915 was genocide, then it's not necessary to stop the debate with a stupid article of law," he adds.

But Hrant Dink has not been silenced.

At the exhibition where his articles are displayed this week there is a notebook in one corner.

Inside, visitors have written him messages.

An Armenian man describes how he was taught to keep quiet about the events of 1915.

"Now I am clear in my thoughts, but I can't voice them," he writes. "When will I be able to speak out?"

And a couple of pages on, there is a message from a Turk.

It is addressed to "Brother Hrant".

"They can kill you, but they cannot kill your ideas - your thoughts," Onur writes. "They can't stop those of us who agree with you expressing your views, unless they kill each and every one of us.

"We miss you. Sleep in peace."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/01/19 05:36:17 GMT