By Appo K. Jabarian
Managing Editor / Executive Publisher
USA Armenian Life Magazine
21 November 2006
During a recent visit to Los Angeles, Hrant Dink, the Istanbul-based Armenian Editor of "Agos" daily, made a public appearance. He discussed current political developments in Turkey. He also discussed his views regarding the passage by the French Parliament of a law punishing the denial of the Armenian Genocide.
After the lecture, members of the audience asked questions and made comments. The following is the text of the exchange between Mr. Dink and this writer:
Jabarian: A few years ago, when ("Marmara" daily’s editor) Mr. Haddejian made a public appearance here sponsored by the Organization of Istanbul Armenians, he mentioned that the blue skies here (freedom in Los Angeles - Ed.) do not resemble the blue skies there (in oppressed Istanbul - Ed.). Now you’ve arrived in (Los Angeles). And you’re welcome.The ideas that you have expressed (recently) equating the Turkish oppressive law no. 301 that suppresses the truth with the French Parliament law that encourages the truth about the facts of the Armenian genocide, have troubled the readers (of USA Armenian Life Magazine). How did you arrive at that conclusion? Are you really convinced? Or is it under duress of fear (that you have arrived at that conclusion)? Or, is the Turkish government financing the "Agos" (daily)?
Dink: Ok, ok ok. Let me pretend that I haven't heard that (the last comment).
Jabarian: And my second question... Of course we do not expect a courageous answer to that last question. So, we'll proceed to the second question. At that point the pro-Dink individuals among the audience, made much ado about this writer's strongly pointed question.
Jabarian: If we are gathered for a dialogue, let us frankly discuss. If not, let me thank you and leave. (Several audience members encouraged this writer to carry on).
Jabarian: The second portion is the clear demand by world Armenians that is comprised of two parts. No Genocide recognition is included. I am agreeable with you that we do not need Turkey's or the Turks' recognition (of the Armenian genocide), but we are pursuing restoration of the occupied Western Armenian lands to their rightful owners, the Armenians. Second, we're pursuing reparations. What is your position regarding world Armenians' two very important demands?
Dink: In regards of lands, the question that you are presenting about land return, you're asking the wrong person. I am already living on these lands. That is a wrong question. As for the reparations, let me tell you, that's a serious issue. But why are we waiting for the recognition of the genocide? ... I think that the European Union's courts can find a solution. As for the insult that you hurled against me ...
Jabarian: That was not an insult. That was a question.
Dink: As for the question about being in fear, ummm ... sometimes I forget what to say. Sometimes, yes I am a human being, I have fears. I live in that country (Turkey) with hardships. When the threats are directed not against my self but against my family circle, then I have fears. I say to my self 'I have my right to do my heroism. But can do heroism with the blood of my child? I have second thoughts about that. Sometimes I toy with the idea of taking my children and get out (of Turkey). But I haven't reached there. Later, we'll see. As for (...), for me it's a serious question as to how the (Turkish) law no. 301 is equated with the France's law. For me, that's a serious question. The answer to that is different: freedom of expression. ... I expect that in that country (Turkey) every man can speak the truth. ... That's our Armenian people's duty. I don't know about yours, but it's our duty to them (the Turks) the truth. I work toward that end... Turkey does not compensate us. ... Sometimes it does compensate by imprisonment.
There is no question that individuals like Dink deserve credit for enduring the Turkish occupation of ancestral land. However, they are worthy of criticism for going out of their way to please the denialist Turkish government. On certain issues they can speak volumes with their silence.
How can one reconcile the fact of previously existing Jewish Holocaust anti-denial law in much of Europe with Dink’s and Ankara’s unfair demand that the veracity of the Armenian Genocide at the hands of Turkey not be given the same treatment as the Jewish Holocaust?
As for the denialist Turkish government's tactics to exploit individuals like Dink to perpetuate their failed denialist state policy, one hopes that no change in said policy occurs. With its obstinate denialism, the Turkish government in reality perpetuates self-inflicted political quick-sands. The longer the Turkish political quicksand lasts, the deeper the international political isolation of Turkey.
As for Hrant Dink, I want to say: “I may disagree with you fundamentally, but I still value your passion and commitment. I just want to remind you to never underestimate the deniers.”