MEMORY OF HRANT DINK DESERVES MORE THAN JUST SORROW
A year has passed since the assassination of Hrant Dink. The manifestation in Istanbul by the editorial office of his newspaper, “Agos”, brought together about as many people (by various estimated up to 100,000) as the funeral of the journalist in January 2007. The same slogans “We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenian”, the same sense of unification among people who feel grateful to Hrant and who mourn their loss, the same emotional speeches about democracy, tolerance.
Both the funeral and the manifestation a year later were covered by a whole range of media – Turkish and foreign, also Armenian. This means that the whole world got another chance to stop and think about the values that Hrant was committed to and the challenge made by the shots of the young fanatic. Hatred and violence cannot be a way of solving problems. Freedom is worth fighting for. Cowardice and true journalism hardly ever go together. The people, the public, the power must treat those few uncompromising in their fight for dignity and justice with care, even if their being uncompromising is sometimes “uncomfortable” for others.
But have these values gained more respect in countries that were particularly dear to Hrant Dink during the past year? In Turkey where he lived and that he was a true citizen of, and in Armenia, that was getting increasingly important in his life after he was finally allowed to travel abroad? The rapprochement of the two nations was turning into one of the main subjects in the work of the journalist, playing a fatal role for him. Unfortunately, the loss that the honest and reasonable part of mankind suffered is far from becoming a lesson to us. And the problem is certainly not the small provocations, made in Istanbul by nationalists on the anniversary of Hrant Dink’s death.
In Turkey Dink’s son is brought to court for re-publishing an article by his father in "Agos". Extremists threaten to kill a Turkish journalist for his words “Hrant Dink was killed by the poison in our blood”, alluding to the well-known phrase that prompted Hrant’s prosecution by notorious Article 301 of the Penal Code of Turkey. In Armenia attempts are made to glorify Dink through slogans like “1.5 million plus 1 victim of Genocide” that the journalist himself would have certainly strongly challenged. The favorable stance towards any Armenian politician, expressed in Turkish press, may be used by some Armenian media to discredit this politician…
And what did the “honest and reasonable part of mankind” put forth to counter this absurdity? The International Press Institute named Hrant Dink the World Press Freedom Hero. The journalist’s name was recalled on a number of other festive occasions. But his real commemoration would have been the action – at least a very small contribution to what he had been dreaming about, a small but a real step to mutual understanding of Armenians and Turks. If not on behalf of the governments of the two countries that are unready for this, then at least on behalf of the civil societies, his colleagues in journalism. With unjustified expectations but persevering hopes we stepped into the second year after Hrant Dink was killed. With hopes that on January 19, 2009 those who would come to the manifestation will be united not only in their sorrow but also in their optimism in future that was so lacking presently.