Thursday, January 25, 2007
Hrant Dink, an outspoken journalist and leader of the small Armenian community left in Turkey, was assassinated last week by an ultra-nationalist Turkish youth. Dink was outspoken about the taboo subject of the Armenian Genocide at the end of the Ottoman Empire, and was tried multiple times under Article 301, which has been used against many intellectuals, most famously Orhan Pamuk. The Turkish establishment's refusal to recognize the atrocities committed against Ottoman citizens of Armenian descent, and current laws that criminalize dissent, set the stage for this assassination; the ultra-nationalist movement put the characters into play. Both are responsible for creating a culture of intolerance that inevitably leads to violence.
From this tragedy springs some hope. Two days ago tens of thousands -- by some accounts, 100,000 -- marched in Istanbul, mostly in silence. Many carried signs and banners reading "We Are All Armenians," in the first large-scale demonstration by mainstream Turks for truth and reconciliation. It is my great hope that this movement will grow and mature, and that the far right will eventually be silenced by its own irrelevance.
[ click on headline for a tribute by Open Democracy, and links to more information ]