January 19, 2011

Tribute to those who have been killed for being Armenian

It all started in January 19, 2007. Or maybe even before? That day three shots were heard in front of Agos editorial office in Istanbul, Turkey. Seconds later Hrant Dink was found lying dead in front of Agos. His death sparked international outrage, his funeral turned into a mass protest and the day of his death became a non-official day of tribute for those who have been killed for being Armenian.

So, why?
Hrant Dink was the editor-in-chief of the first bilingual Turkish-Armenian Agos (meaning “groove” in Armenian) weekly newspaper from its start and an active and prominent member of the Armenian minority in Turkey.

It is a known fact that you can’t speak or even think about 1915-1923 Armenian Genocide in Turkey, the mass killings of more than 1,5 million Armenians. For that you will be prosecuted, imprisoned under the famous Article 301 or even will be killed. Like it happened with Orhan Pamuk, the best-selling Turkish writer, who had been prosecuted and charged for writing about Armenian Genocide and later received Nobel Prize —the first Nobel Prize to be awarded to a Turkish citizen. In an interview with BBC News, he said: "What happened to the Ottoman Armenians in 1915 was a major thing that was hidden from the Turkish nation; it was a taboo. But we have to be able to talk about the past."

Dink was one of the few people who was not only speaking but also writing about the Turkish denial of Armenian Genocide. He was an active member of all campaigns of Armenian Diaspora for Genocide’s international recognition.

Was Dink aware of what he was doing? Absolutely, yes! Many letters, phone calls with death threats, imprisonments (three times) for denigrating Turkishness give evidences that he was more than aware of all possible resolutions of his activities.

"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."
Hrant Dink

… the expected day came. Hrant was assassinated in Istanbul in January 19, 2007 by a 17-year old Turkish nationalist Ogün Samast. This happened shortly after the premiere of a documentary film “Screamers” about genocides of 20th century, initiated and screened by Armenian rock band System of a Down (SOAD). In the film Hrant was interviewed about Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide and the case against him under article 301.
Ogün
fired three shots at Dink's head from the back. A witness, the owner of a restaurant near the Agos office, said the assassin (Ogün) looked about 20, wore jeans and a cap and shouted "I shot the infidel" as he left the scene.
Ogün Samast, leaving the scene of the crime, photo taken from the CCTV of one of the nearest buildings

However, when Samast had been taken into custody, he didn't became a criminal, just vice versa, he became a national hero. Two days later, Ogün's photo posing with Turkish flag and smiling security officers appeared everywhere.



On the day of Hrant’s funeral 200.000 people gathered in the streets of Istanbul to bid a farewell to Hrant Dink, the only sign of hope for peace, and to express their protest against Turkish violences against human race that continues even in 21st century.

They were chanting "We are all Armenians" and "We are all Hrant Dink" and were holding placards like these:


HEPIMIZ HRANT DINK’iz (in Turkish, means "We are all Hrant Dink")

EM HEMÛ HRANTIN (in Kurdish, means "We are all Hrant Dink")

HEPiMiZ ERMENiYiZ HEPiMiZ (in Turkish, means "We are all Armenians")

MENK PLORYS HAY ENK (in Armenian, means "We are all Armenians")


"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.”

Hrant Dink



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