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Hrant Dink

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Subject: January 2007, Taner Akçam, Armenian Genocide reparations, Armenia–Turkey relations, January 19
Collection: 1954 Births, 2007 Deaths, Armenian Apostolic Christians, Armenian Human Rights Activists, Armenian Journalists, Armenian Male Writers, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Assassinated Armenian Journalists, Assassinated Armenian People, Assassinated Turkish Journalists, Deaths by Firearm in Turkey, European Court of Human Rights Cases Involving Turkey, Istanbul University Alumni, Journalists Killed in Turkey, People from Malatya, People Murdered in Turkey, Taksim Sk Footballers, Turkish Armenians, Turkish Christians, Turkish Human Rights Activists, Turkish Journalists, Turkish People of Armenian Descent
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Hrant Dink

Hrant Dink
Հրանդ Տինք
Born (1954-09-15)September 15, 1954
Malatya, Turkey
Died January 19, 2007(2007-01-19) (aged 52)
Istanbul, Turkey
Nationality Turkish
Ethnicity Armenian
Alma mater Istanbul University
Occupation Newspaper editor, columnist and journalist
Years active ?–2007
Notable credit(s) Founder and editor-in-chief of Agos
Religion Armenian Apostolic
Spouse(s) Rakel Yagbasan
(m. 1976)
Children Delal, Arat, Sera

Hrant Dink (Armenian: Հրանդ Տինք, pronounced ) (September 15, 1954 – January 19, 2007) was a Turkish-Armenian editor, journalist and columnist.[1]

As editor-in-chief of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, Dink was a prominent member of the Armenian minority in Turkey. Dink was best known for advocating Turkish-Armenian reconciliation and human and minority rights in Turkey; he was often critical of both Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide, and of the Armenian diaspora's campaign for its international recognition.[2][3] Dink was prosecuted three times for denigrating Turkishness, while receiving numerous death threats from Turkish nationalists.[2][4][5][6]

Hrant Dink was assassinated in Istanbul in January 2007, by Ogün Samast, a 17-year old Turkish nationalist. This was shortly after the premiere of the genocide documentary Screamers, in which he is interviewed about Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and the case against him under Article 301. While Samast has since been taken into custody, photographs of the assassin flanked by smiling Turkish police and gendarmerie, posing with the killer side by side in front of the Turkish flag, have since surfaced. The photos created a scandal in Turkey, prompting a spate of investigations and the removal from office of those involved.[7][8]

At his funeral, two hundred thousand mourners marched in protest of the assassination, chanting, "We are all Armenians" and, "We are all Hrant Dink". Criticism of Article 301 became increasingly vocal after his death, leading to parliamentary proposals for repeal. The 2007–2008 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour.


  • Early life 1
    • Rakel Yağbasan, childhood friend, future wife 1.1
    • Religious beliefs 1.2
    • After university 1.3
    • Tuzla Armenian Children's Camp 1.4
  • Editor of Agos 2
    • Editorial policy 2.1
    • Armenian issues 2.2
    • Policy view 2.3
  • Prosecution for denigrating Turkishness 3
  • Assassination 4
    • Funeral 4.1
    • Trial 4.2
  • Awards 5
  • Fırat Dink, Taksim SK player 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Hrant Dink was born in Malatya on September 15, 1954, the eldest of three sons to Sarkis Dink (known as Haşim Kalfa), a tailor from Gürün, Sivas, and Gülvart Dink, from Kangal, Sivas.[9] His father's gambling debts led to the family's move to İstanbul in 1960, where they sought a new beginning.[9] Sarkis Dink's gambling continued in İstanbul, however, and one year after their move, Dink's parents separated, leaving the seven-year old Dink and his brothers without a place to live. Dink's grandmother enrolled the boys at the Gedikpaşa Armenian Orphanage; Dink often noted his grandfather, who spoke seven languages and read constantly, as the role model and father figure who inspired his love of letters.[9]

The Gedikpaşa Armenian Orphanage, an institution run by the Armenian Evangelical Community, was to be home to Hrant Dink for the next ten years.[10] The orphanage children spent their summers at the Tuzla Armenian Children's Camp, on the Marmara beachfront in a suburb of İstanbul, building and improving the summer camp during their stay.[11] The Tuzla Armenian Children's Camp played a significant role in Hrant Dink's life, both personally, as he met his future wife as a child and later married her at the Camp, and professionally, as the government-led closing of the Camp in 1984 was one of the factors that raised Dink's awareness of the issues of the Armenian community and eventually led to his becoming an activist.[10][11]

Dink received his primary education at the Hay Avedaranagan İncirdibi Protestant Armenian Primary School and Bezciyan School and his secondary education at the Üsküdar Surp Haç Armenian High School, working as a tutor at the same time.[12]

During his senior year, he was expelled from the Üsküdar Surp Haç, and completed his high school degree at the Şişli Public High School.[9] Hrant Dink continued his education at Istanbul University, where he studied zoology and became a sympathizer of TİKKO, the armed faction of the Maoist TKP-ML.[10][13] Around this time, in 1972, he legally changed his name (to Fırat Dink), along with two Armenian friends, Armanek and İstepan, to disassociate their factional activities from the Armenian community.[13] His friend Armanek Bakırcıyan, who changed his name to Orhan Bakır, later rose in TİKKO to membership of the central committee, took part in armed struggle in Eastern Turkey and was killed during fighting in 1978.[9] Having fallen in love, Hrant Dink parted ways with his friends and remained at the sympathizer level, completing his bachelor's degree in Zoology and enrolling in the Philosophy Department for a second bachelor's degree, which he did not complete.[10][13]

Rakel Yağbasan, childhood friend, future wife

Hrant Dink met his future wife, Rakel Yağbasan, when she came to the Tuzla Armenian Children's Camp at age nine in 1968.[14] Born in 1959 in Silopi, Cizre, Rakel was one of 13 children of Siyament Yağbasan, head of the Varto clan and Delal Yağbasan who died when Rakel was a child.[14]

In 1915, the Varto clan had received orders to relocate along with the rest of the Armenian population in the region, but they were attacked during the journey.[14] Five families from the clan escaped to nearby Mount Cudi and settled there, remaining without any contact to the outside world for 25 years.[12] Eventually they re-established contact and largely assimilated into the nearby Kurdish population, speaking Kurdish exclusively, although they retained knowledge of their Armenian origin and Christian beliefs.[12] Armenian Protestant lay preacher Hrant Güzelyan (also known as Küçükgüzelyan), who was running a program for relocating Anatolian Armenians to İstanbul, visited the clan and brought back around 20 children to the Tuzla Camp, including Rakel and two of her brothers.[15][16]

Staying at the Tuzla Camp during summers and at the Gedikpaşa Orphanage during winters, Rakel learned Turkish and Armenian, and finished primary school.[14] Because Rakel was registered as a Turk, not as an Armenian, she was not allowed to enroll at Armenian community schools and her father did not give permission for her to attend a Turkish school past then-compulsory 5th grade.[12] Not able to obtain further formal schooling, Rakel was privately tutored by instructors at the Gedikpaşa Orphanage.[12]

Rakel's father, Siyament Yağbasan, at first opposed Hrant Dink's marriage proposal since the Varto clan traditionally practiced endogamy, but eventually relented when elders of the Armenian community, including Patriarch Kalustyan, applied pressure and Rakel declared that she would marry no one else.[12] Hrant Dink and Rakel Yağbasan got married in a civil ceremony at the Tuzla Camp on April 19, 1976 when they were 22 and 17, respectively.[11][17] One year later, at Rakel Dink's insistence, the couple conducted a church wedding ceremony on April 23, 1977.[17] Hrant and Rakel Dink had three children: Delal, Arat, and Sera.[18]

Religious beliefs

Dink was baptized and married within the Armenian Apostolic Church, but was educated and sheltered at Armenian Protestant institutions and received his introduction to religion within the Protestant sphere.[19] Dink was a member of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedikpaşa, Istanbul, as well as a member by birth in the Armenian Apostolic Church.[19][20] He regarded both churches as part of his culture and said that he was not someone who dealt heavily with religious rituals.[19] Keeping the duality to the end, his funeral service was held in the Apostolic Church, by Patriarch Mutafyan, with Protestant ministers delivering eulogies at the burial.[21]

After university

Having graduated from the university, Hrant Dink completed his

  • International Hrant Dink Foundation Turkey - established by Hrant Dink's family and friends.
  • Friends of Hrant initiative- Regular update on the Hrant Dink murder case press briefings and statements.
  • Agos newspaper official web site (Turkish) and (Arabic)
  • For Hrant For Justice A documentary about the justice disaster after the assassination and short films made for Hrant
  • Extracts from Hrant Dink's last column, BBC News.
  • The New York Times News about Hrant Dink
  • Çakmak, E. Efe (February 12, 2007). "A tribute to Hrant Dink". Eurozine. Retrieved 2007-04-21. 
  • Transcribed video of the interview with TV5 with French and English subtitles.
  • Hrant Dink, "Ermeni Kimliği Üzerine" in the personal website of Baskın Oran.

External links

  1. ^  
  2. ^ a b c "Turkey: Outspoken Turkish-Armenian Journalist Murdered" (Press release).  
  3. ^ "Turkey: Murder of journalist deplored" (Press release).  
  4. ^ a b c d e f Mahoney, Robert (2006-06-15). "Bad blood in Turkey" (PDF). Dangerous Assignments Spring-Summer 2006 ( 
  5. ^ a b "IPI Deplores Callous Murder of Journalist in Istanbul" (Press release).  
  6. ^ "Turkish-Armenian editor murdered in Istanbul" (Press release).  
  7. ^ "Samast'a jandarma karakolunda kahraman muamelesi".  
  8. ^ "Turkey: Anger As Police Pose With Suspect".  
  9. ^ a b c d e f Söylemez, Haşim (2007-01-29). "Terzi Haşim'in oğlu Fırat". Aksiyon (in Turkish). Archived from the original on February 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Armutçu, Emel (2005-10-02). "Hayatı, Resmi Olmayan Ermeni Tarihi".  
  11. ^ a b c d e f Varlık, Yasemin (2001-07-02). "Tuzla Ermeni Çocuk Kampı'nın İzleri". BİAnet. Archived from the original on December 6, 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Kalkan, Ersin (2007-02-03). "Erguvanlarla başlamıştı bu büyük aşk bir caninin kurşunuyla yarım kaldı".  
  13. ^ a b c d e Uskan, Arda (2005-02-10). "Apo'ya neden 'Kürt dölü' değil de 'Ermeni dölü' deniyor? (interview with Hrant Dink)".  
  14. ^ a b c d Akar, Rıdvan (1999-12-30). "Cudi'li Rakel'in masalı". Aktüel (in Turkish). Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  15. ^ Hoffman, Tessa (October 2002). "Armenians in Turkey today" (PDF). The EU Office of Armenian Associations in Europe. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Döndaş, İnci (2007-01-28). "Tuzla Çocuk Kampı'ndan Hrantlar'ın öyküsü çıktı". Star Gazette (in Turkish). Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  17. ^ a b Oran, Baskın (2007-01-26). "Bu kadarı da yapılmaz be Hrant!".  
  18. ^ "Bu tabloda bir tek Hrant Dink'in gülen yüzü eksikti".  
  19. ^ a b c Akman, Nuriye (2005-10-17). "Dink'ten Nuriye Akman'a: Gitmek nasip olmasın, buraya gömüleyim".  
  20. ^ "Armenian Evangelical Community Mourns Dink". Armenian Weekly (Hairenik Association). 2007-01-27. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  21. ^ "Tens of thousands of citizens pay respects to Hrant Dink". Lraper. 2007-01-23. Retrieved 2007-04-01. 
  22. ^ a b c "Kumkapı'da balıkçı sepetinde bulundu, yetimhaneye verildi 'Dilim giderim dese de adımlarım gitmek istemiyor' derdi".  
  23. ^ a b "Hakkımızda" (in Turkish). Beyaz Adam. Retrieved 2007-04-03. 
  24. ^ a b Gürsoy, Defne; Hüküm, Uğur (2007-02-09). Istanbul : Emergence d'une société civile (in French). Autrement.  
  25. ^ a b c Human Rights Association Istanbul Branch (2000). Armenian Children's Camp of Tuzla, A Story of Seizure. İstanbul:  
  26. ^ Akşit, Feray; İnce, Emine (2007-01-23). "Hrant Dink's legacy".  
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Oran, Baskın (2006-12-17). "The Reconstruction of Armenian Identity in Turkey and the Weekly Agos (Interview with Hrant Dink)". Nouvelles d'Armenie. Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  28. ^ Mercan, Faruk (2007-01-29). "Hrant Dink niçin hedef seçildi?". Aksiyon (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2007-04-27. 
  29. ^ Erdogan, M. Murat; Ünal, Derviş Fikret (March 2007). "The legacy of Hrant Dink and Turkey's EU process" (PDF). ZEI-EU Turkey Monitor (Center for European Integration Studies) 3 (1): 8. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  30. ^ Avakian, Florence (1999-05-27). "Interview with Patriarch Mesrob II of Istanbul and Turkey". Armenian Mirror-Spectator. Retrieved 2007-04-30. 
  31. ^  
  32. ^ *"Çocukluk aşkıyla evlendi".  
  33. ^ a b "Hrant Dink, an Armenian who loved Turkey and the truth". Turkish Press. 2007-01-20. Retrieved 2007-01-20. 
  34. ^ Dink, Hrant (2007-06-08). "Minorities and majorities".  
  35. ^ Dink, Hrant (2007-01-18). "Tarihin cilvesi".  
  36. ^ "Fury In Turkey At Editor's Murder".  
  37. ^ "Istanbul governor says 3 arrested in connection with murder of journalist Hrant Dink".  
  38. ^ Dink, Hrant (2006). Screamers (trailer of documentary). 
  39. ^ Sazak, Derya (2006-10-10). "Hrant'ın tepkisi".  
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ Taşcılar, Muhammet (2007-01-20). "Dava arkadaşı Hrant Dink'i anlattı". haber7 (in Turkish). Retrieved 2007-01-27. 
  43. ^ "Hrant Dink'in öldürülmesine tepkiler sürüyor" (in Turkish). Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-27. 
  44. ^ "Dink'in birlikte yargılandığı arkadaşı: 301'den beraatine şaşırmıştı".  
  45. ^ "Gazeteci Dink ve Mazlum-Der yöneticisi Ülek beraat etti".  
  46. ^  
  47. ^ """A journalist of Armenian origin faces three years jail for "insulting Turkish identity (Press release).  
  48. ^ "Turkey turns down editor's appeal".  
  49. ^ "Hrant Dink'in başvurusu AİHM'de".  
  50. ^ a b c "Turkey: Prosecution of journalist is harassment" (Press release).  
  51. ^ "PEN Alarmed by Murder of Armenian-Turkish Journalist" (Press release).  
  52. ^ a b "Two acquittals, one postponement".  
  53. ^ ECtHR 14.09.2010. judgment on applications No. 2668/07, 6102/08, 30079/08, 7072/09 and 7124/09 (French) and ECtHR Press release
  54. ^ "Türkiye'yi vurdular".  
  55. ^ "Katil zanlısı Samsun'da yakalandı".  
  56. ^ "Hrant Dink murder suspect caught".  
  57. ^ "Gazeteci Hrant Dink silahlı saldırıda öldü".  
  58. ^ de Bendern, Paul; Grove, Thomas (2007-01-19). "Turkish-Armenian editor shot dead in Istanbul".  
  59. ^ "Hrant Dink, Agos Gazetesi önünde silahlı saldırıda öldürüldü".  
  60. ^ "Dink Murder Trial Opens in Turkey".  
  61. ^ "Turkey: Sentence in Editor's Death".  
  62. ^ Arsu, Sebnem (2011-07-25). "Hrant Dink murder: Turk Ogun Samast jailed".  
  63. ^ "Haziran 2021’de dışarıda". Hurriyet (in Turkish). July 26, 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2012. Samast, Haziran 2021’de tahliye olacak. 
  64. ^ Özmen, Kemal (2005-01-31). "Ayşenur Zarakolu anıldı". BİA (in Turkish). Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  65. ^ "PEN Statement on the Murder of Hrant Dink in Turkey" (Press release).  
  66. ^ Danielian, Gayane (2008-06-18). "Kocharian Honors Slain Turkish-Armenian Editor".  
  67. ^ "Hrant Dink, Turkey: World Press Freedom Hero".  
  68. ^ Akçam, Taner (2012). The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire. Princeton University Press.  
  69. ^ Taksimspor in Super Amateur League


See also

He played professional football with Taksim SK which is Armenian Community team in 1982-83 season. His name was written as Fırat Dink in his licence.[69]

Fırat Dink, Taksim SK player

Taner Akçam's 2012 book The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity is dedicated to Dink and to Vahakn Dadrian.[68]


On July 25, 2011, Ogün Samast was convicted of premeditated murder and illegal possession of a firearm by Istanbul's Heavy Juvenile Criminal Court. He was sentenced to 22 years and 10 months in prison,[61][62] and could be eligible for parole in 2021,[63] after serving two thirds of his sentence. Another suspect Yasin Hayal, was convicted of ordering the murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Dink murder trial opened in Istanbul on July 2, 2007. 18 people were charged at Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No 14 in connection with the journalist's assassination.[60] Since the main suspect, Ogün Samast was younger than 18 the hearing was not public. Reportedly the defendants Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel repeated their testimonies given to the security forces and prosecutor. The court decided to release the defendants Osman Altay, Irfan Özkan, Salih Hacisalihoglu and Veysel Toprak to be tried without remand and adjourned the hearing to 1 October.


A panorama from Halaskargazi Boulevard in the Şişli district of Istanbul. One hundred thousand mourners marched in Dink's funeral, protesting his assassination. The office of the Agos newspaper, where Dink was gunned down, is near the right edge of the image; it is the first building to the right of the one with the large black banner.

Dink's funeral service was held on January 23, 2007 in the Surp Asdvadzadzin Patriarchal Church in the Kumkapı neighborhood of Istanbul. Dink's funeral ceremony developed into a demonstration at which a hundred thousand citizens marched in protest of the killing.[16]


Dink was assassinated in Istanbul around 12:00 GMT on January 19, 2007, as he returned to the offices of Agos.[54] The killer was reported to have introduced himself as an Ankara University student who wanted to meet with Mr. Dink. When his request was rejected, he waited in front of a nearby bank for a while.[55][56] According to eyewitnesses, Dink was shot by a man of 25 to 30 years of age, who fired three shots at Dink's head from the back at point blank range before fleeing the scene on foot. According to the police, the assassin was a man of 18 to 19 years of age. Two men had been taken into custody in the first hours of the police investigation, but were later released.[57] Another witness, the owner of a restaurant near the Agos office, said the assassin looked about 20, wore jeans and a cap and shouted "I shot the infidel" as he left the scene.[58][59] Dink's wife and daughter collapsed when they heard the news, and were taken to the hospital.


In September, 2010, the European Court of Human Rights found that Turkish authorities have violated Dink's freedom of speech (Article 10 ECHR) by criminal proceedings against him for alleged denigration of Turkish identity and in reality, for criticizing the state institutions' denial of the view that the events of 1915 amounted to genocide.[53]

The charges were also leveled at Serkis Seropyan and Dink's son Arat Dink, as the holder of Agos's publishing license and executive editor, respectively.[52] On June 14, 2007, the case against Hrant Dink was dropped due to his death, though proceedings for Serkis Seropyan and Arat Dink were scheduled for July 18, 2007.[52]

"Of course I'm saying it's a genocide, because its consequences show it to be true and label it so. We see that people who had lived on this soil for 4,000 years were exterminated by these events."[50]

In September 2006, another case was opened against Dink on charges of 'denigrating Turkishness' under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which Amnesty International considered to be "part of an emerging pattern of harassment against the journalist exercising his right to freedom of expression."[50] The charge was brought against him by the Istanbul Prosecutor's Office after he referred to the 1915 massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide during a July 14, 2006 interview with Reuters:[50][51]

His appeal of the ruling that found him guilty was rejected by a Turkish court in May 2006.[48] Having exhausted internal appeal mechanisms, Dink appealed to the European Court of Human Rights for an overturn of the ruling on January 15. The appeal suggests that Article 301 compromises freedom of expression and that Dink has been discriminated against because of his Armenian ethnicity. Dink's family has the right to decide whether or not to proceed with the appeal after his death.[49]

"The prosecutions are not a surprise for me. They want to teach me a lesson because I am Armenian. They try to keep me quiet."[4]

In the same CPJ interview, he explained that while he had always been a target of Turkish nationalists, the past year had seen an increase in their efforts:

"This is a political decision because I wrote about the Armenian Genocide and they detest that, so they found a way to accuse me of insulting Turks."[4]

In a February 2006 interview with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Dink spoke about his 2005 conviction for denigrating Turkishness in a criminal court:

"This trial is based on a total misunderstanding," Dink told Reporters Without Borders. "I never meant to insult Turkish citizens. The term in question was taken out of context and is only symbolic. The real subject of the article is the Armenian diaspora who, once they have come to terms with the Turkish part of their identity, can seek new answers to their questions from independent Armenia.[47]
Dink defended himself vigorously against the charges:

The second charge under 301 was pressed for Dink's article called "Getting to know Armenia" (February 13, 2004), in which he suggested to diaspora Armenians that it was time to rid themselves of their enmity against Turks, a condition he considered himself free of, keeping himself emotionally healthy while at the same time knowing something of discrimination. His statement, "replace the poisoned blood associated with the Turk, with fresh blood associated with Armenia"[46] resulted in a six-month suspended sentence.[13]

[45]On February 9, 2006, Hrant Dink, and Şehmus Ülek, who stood trial for another speech at the same panel, were acquitted of all charges.
"Since my childhood, I have been singing the national anthem along with you. Recently, there is a section where I cannot sing any longer and remain silent. You sing it, I join you later. It is: Smile at my heroic race... Where is the heroism of this race? We are trying to form the concept of citizenship on national unity and a heroic race. For example, if it were Smile at my hard-working people..., I would sing it louder than all of you, but it is not. Of the oath I am Turkish, honest and hard-working, I like the 'honest and hard-working' part and I shout it loudly. The I am Turkish part, I try to understand as I am from Turkey."[44]
In the speech, Dink had stated: [43] Speaking at the "Global Security, Terror and Human Rights, Multiculturalism, Minorities and Human Rights" panel, Dink and another speaker, lawyer Şehmus Ülek, faced charges for denigrating Turkishness and the Republic.[42]The first charge under the previous version of Article 301, then called Article 159, stemmed from a speech he delivered at a panel hosted by human rights NGO Mazlum-Der in Şanlıurfa on 14 February 2002.

Dink was prosecuted three times for denigrating Turkishness under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.[2][4][5] He was acquitted the first time, convicted and received a suspended 6-month jail sentence the second time, which he had appealed at the European Court of Human Rights. At the time of his death, the prosecutor's office was preparing to press charges in a third case.

Prosecution for denigrating Turkishness

In his latest conference, held in Malatya Association of Entrepreneurs, Dink claimed that the Kurds were now falling in for the traps that the Armenians fell in the past. He stated that "English, Russian, German, and French are playing the same game again in this land. In the past, the Armenian people trusted them, thought they would rescue them from the cruelity of the Ottoman. But they were wrong, because they finished their business and they left. And they left brothers of this land as enemies". He claimed that the US is now playing the same game, and this time Kurds are falling for it. He said "That is America. Comes, minds its own business, and when he is done, leaves. And then people here, scuffle within themselves".[40][41]

Hrant Dink promoted a policy of wider integration of Turkish-Armenians into the wider Turkish society. Critical of state injustices, he often underlined the fact that a stronger Turkey would be achieved through the elimination of discrimination. Even after his conviction for speaking of the Armenian Genocide, Dink continued to value his community, city, and country, noting often that his analysis and criticism was in the interest of strengthening the country. He concentrated on the mismanagement of community institutions, tried to promote obtaining rights through legal means, and was always open to compromise, once noting, "After all, Turkey is very reluctant to concede rights to its majority as well."[27]

Policy view

According to Hrant Dink, Agos helped the development of the Armenian community such that it helped triple the participation in the last Patriarchal elections, trained many journalists, became the community's face to Turkish society and cultivated many friends. He voiced his intention for an "Institute of Armenian Studies" in Istanbul.[27] He tried to make it the democratic, opposition voice of Turkey, a voice used to inform the public of the injustices committed against the Armenian community. One of the major aims of the newspaper was to contribute to a dialog between the Turkish and Armenian communities, as well as between Turkey and Armenia.

He was opposed to the French law that makes denial of Armenian Genocide a crime. He was planning to go to France to commit this 'crime', when the law came into effect.[39]

By pointing out issues of rhetorical discourse that hampered Armenian-Turkish dialogue, he believed these obstacles could be overcome to the benefit of Turkish Armenians.[27]

"Turkish-Armenian relations should be taken out of a 1915 meters-deep well."[27]

Indicating that a show of empathy would have nothing to do with accepting or refusing the genocide, Dink called for dialogue:

Hrant Dink believed that diaspora Armenians should be able to live free of the weight of historical memory (the "residues of the past"), considering first and foremost the needs of the living majority (he said "eyes of the other side").[27]

"There are Turks who don't admit that their ancestors committed genocide. If you look at it though, they seem to be nice people… So why don't they admit it? Because they think that genocide is a bad thing which they would never want to commit, and because they can't believe their ancestors would do such a thing either."[38]

Dink featured prominently in the 2006 genocide documentary film Screamers in which he explains:

At the same time, he made clear that this term had a political meaning, rather than a historical one, and he was strongly critical of the strategy of the Armenian diaspora of pressuring Western governments into official recognition of the Genocide label.[27][37]

Dink was one of Turkey's most prominent Armenian voices and, despite threats on his life, he refused to remain silent. He always said his aim was to improve the difficult relationship between Turks and Armenians.[36] Active in various democratic platforms and civil society organizations, Hrant Dink emphasized the need for democratization in Turkey and focused on the issues of free speech, minority rights, civic rights and issues pertaining to the Armenian community in Turkey. He was a very important peace activist. In his public speeches, which were often intensely emotional, he never refrained from using the word genocide when talking about the Armenian Genocide, a term fiercely rejected by Turkey.[33]

"I challenge the accepted version of history because I do not write about things in black and white. People here are used to black and white; that’s why they are astonished that there are other shades, too."[4]

He defended his constant challenge of established notions:

"If I write about the [Armenian] genocide it angers the Turkish generals. I want to write and ask how we can change this historical conflict into peace. They don’t know how to solve the Armenian problem."[4]

Dink hoped his questioning would pave the way for peace between the two peoples:

Armenian issues

Acting as a voluntary spokesperson for the Armenian community in Turkey, Hrant Dink, through Agos, addressed the particular prejudices, injustices and problems the community faced in its interaction with the Turkish society and state.[27] Agos, through Hrant Dink's pen, criticized discrimination against Armenians found in Turkish mainstream media, publicized the problems faced by Armenian foundations, and spoke against cases of destruction of the Armenian cultural heritage.[13][25][35]

"I think the fundamental problems in Turkey exist for the majority as well . Therefore, ..., I will speak for the majority, including myself in it and dwell on where, we, as Turkey, are headed."[34]
In a speech Hrant Dink delivered on May 19, 2006, at a seminar jointly organized in Antalya by the Turkish Journalists´ Association and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, he said: [33] and novelist Perihan Mağden who came under criticism and prosecution for their opinions.Orhan PamukAs a leftist activist, Hrant Dink often spoke and wrote about the problems of democratization in Turkey, defending other authors such as Nobel laureate

Dink's unique perspective has been described as a "four way mirror", simultaneously empathetic to people of the Armenian diaspora, citizens of the Republic of Armenia, Turkish Armenians, and citizens of Turkey.[27] Under Hrant Dink's editorship, Agos concentrated on five major topics: Speaking against any unfair treatment of the Armenian community in Turkey, covering human rights violations and problems of democratization in Turkey, carrying news of developments in the Republic of Armenia, with special emphasis on the Turkey-Armenia relations, publishing articles and serials on the Armenian cultural heritage and its contributions to the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, criticizing malfunctions and non-transparency in the Armenian community institutions.[27]

Editorial policy

At its inception, Agos started with a circulation of 2,000, and at the time of Hrant Dink's death had reached a circulation of around 6,000.[27] Influential beyond its circulation, often applauded greatly by some and criticized heavily by others, Agos became a paper whose editorial viewpoint was sought after.[32]

Up to the founding of Agos, the Armenian community had two main newspapers, Marmara and Jamanak, both published only in Armenian.[30] By publishing in Turkish as well as Armenian, Hrant Dink opened up the channels of communication to the society at large for the Armenian community.[27] After Agos started its publication, the participation of Armenians in the political-cultural life in Turkey increased greatly, and public awareness in Turkey of the issues of the Armenians started to increase.[27] Always willing to speak on the issues faced by Armenians, Hrant Dink emerged as a leader in his community and became a well-known public figure in Turkey.[31]

Dink had not been a professional journalist until founding Agos.[27] Up to that point, he had contributed occasional articles and book reviews to local Armenian language newspapers and corrections and letters to the editor to the national dailies.[22] He soon became well known for his editorials in Agos and also wrote columns in the national dailies Zaman and BirGün.[29]

Agos was born out of a meeting called by Patriarch Karekin II when mainstream media started linking Armenians of Turkey with the illegal Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).[27] A picture of PKK's leader Abdullah Öcalan and an Assyrian priest appeared in a Turkish daily, with the caption "Here's proof of the Armenian-PKK cooperation".[28] Patriarch Karekin II asked the attendees at the meeting what needed to be done and the opinion that emerged from the meeting was that the Armenians in Turkey needed to communicate with the society at large.[27] The group held a widely covered press conference, followed by monthly press events and eventually formed Agos.[27]

Hrant Dink was one of the founders of Agos weekly, the only newspaper in Turkey published in Armenian and Turkish, and served as the editor-in-chief of Agos from its founding in 1996 until his death in 2007.[26] The first edition of Agos appeared on April 5, 1996, on the day of Surp Zadik (Easter) and was saluted by Patriarch Karekin II as a gift of Surp Zadik.[27]

Editor of Agos

The Tuzla Armenian Children's Camp was the subject of an exhibit by the Turkish Human Rights Organization in 1996, the materials from which was published in book form in 2000, with a foreword by Orhan Pamuk and an afterword by Hrant Dink.[25] In 2001 the camp grounds were sold to a local businessman who intended to build a house on the site until Dink contacted him and let him know that the land had belonged to an orphanage.[16] The businessman offered to donate the land back, but the law at the time did not permit it.[16] At the time of Dink's death in 2007, the camp grounds continued to stand empty, awaiting the new Foundation law that was passed at the end of 2006 but was vetoed and returned to parliament by President Sezer.[16]

"I went to Tuzla when I was 8. I poured my labour in there for 20 years. I met my wife Rakel there. We grew up together. We were married in the camp. Our children were born there... After the September 12 coup, our camp manager was arrested on the claim that he was raising Armenian militants. A wrongful claim. None of us was brought up to be a militant. My friends and I, each of us old charges of the camp, rushed to fill the job to save the camp and the orphanage from shutting down. But then, one day they handed us a paper from a court... 'We just found out that your minority institutions don't have a right to buy real estate. We never should have given you that permission way back then. This place will now revert to its old owner.' We fought for five years and we lost... Little chance we had with the state as the contester. Hear my plea, brothers, sisters!.."[25]
[11] The closure of the camp, where over 22 years around 1,500 children stayed affected Dink deeply and over the years he wrote about the camp often:[11] After a five year legal battle, the court ruled that the land should be returned to its previous owner and in 1984 the camp was closed down.[11] In 1979, the General Directorate of Foundations started a court action to annul Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church's ownership of the camp, based on a 1974 ruling by the Court of Appeals that made it impossible for minority foundations to own real estate beyond what they possessed in 1936.[16][10]Hrant Dink, together with his wife Rakel, took over the management of the Tuzla Armenian Children's Camp at the time of Güzelyan's arrest, while continuing in the bookstore business with his brothers.

Tuzla Armenian Children's Camp


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