By Armine Pilosyan
It all started in January 19, 2007. 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.
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.
Dink was one of the few people in Turkey who was not only speaking but also writing about the state denial of the 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, detainments give evidences that he was more than aware of all possible consequences 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," he said.
Dink was assassinated by a 17-year old Turkish nationalist called Ogün Samast. This happened shortly after the premiere of a documentary film “Screamers” about the 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 of Turkish Penal Code.
Samast fired three shots at Dink's head from the back. A witness, the owner of a restaurant near the Agos office, said the assassin shouted "I shot the infidel" as he left the scene. When Samast was taken into custody, he was considered by many in Turkey as a national hero. Two days later, his photo posing with Turkish flag and smiling with security officers appeared everywhere.
On the day of Hrant’s funeral more than 100.000 people gathered in the streets of Istanbul to bid him farewell and to express their protest against Turkish violation of human rights. They were chanting "We are all Armenians" and "We are all Hrant Dink".
Let us remember one of Hrant Dink's writings: "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.”
1) Dink on the ground after being assassined in 2007.
2) Fourth year demonstrations in Dink's anniversary.
Armine Pilosyan's blog