In Standing Up for Truth, Hrant Dink No Longer Stands Alone ; the 100,000 Mourners of the Murdered Armenian-Turkish Journalist Showed How Truth Triumphs over Censorship

Article excerpt

"We are all Hrant Dink." That was the appropriate, if not very accurate, placard held aloft by tens of thousands of mourners last month when Istanbul buried its famed - and defamed - slain hero.

Mr. Dink was an Armenian-Turkish editor of the weekly newspaper Agos, but it was not as an editor that he won lasting honors. He will be remembered by Armenians as the gentle usher on the bridge from Istanbul's Armenian community to its Turkish commonwealth - and ambassador to both from the democratic dream. He should be remembered by all as an intellectual warrior leading the fight against censorship.

Even the Turkish government, which convicted Dink in 2005 of "insulting Turkishness" for writing about the Armenian genocide of 1915, splashed its imperial tears - sourced in self-pity though they were. From the government's perspective, the confessed killer, 17- year old Ogun Samast, had just issued an inconvenient press release on the eve of Turkey's accession talks with the European Union. "I shot the infidel," Samast reportedly yelled after shooting Dink in the back. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's strange lament on "the attack on our peace and stability" bemoaned not the dead Armenian, but the afternoon's collateral casualty: the illusion of Turkey's democratic revival.

Official Turkey may condemn Samast as an ultranationalist vigilante, but it can't in good faith call him a traitor. If the mention of genocide was an act of sedition under Article 301 of the country's penal code, then Samast had delivered the just punishment to its violator. The killer had merely packed Turkey's state spirit into a bullet and sent it to its final destination.

Indeed, video footage shows Turkish security officers giving Samast a hero's treatment as they posed with him in front of a Turkish flag shortly after his arrest.

Dink, on the other hand, was found guilty of treason and denied police protection even as he reported death threats. For his commentaries on the Armenian genocide, Dink was labeled an enemy to the Turkish people. He took on that role with understanding but not acquiescence, defying injustice with truth - and censorship with incorruptible free speech.

Of a character in Dink's position, Henrik Ibsen has written, "The strongest man in the world is he who stands alone. …


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