Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dink murder still divides Turks

Saturday, 19 January 2008, 05:36 GMT
BBC News

A year after the killing of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul finds that the Turkish nationalism he challenged remains a potent force.

"Why was I chosen as a target?"

That is the now prophetic-sounding title of an article written by Hrant Dink some time before his murder.

The Turkish-Armenian writer was referring to his trial and conviction for "insulting Turkishness".

A year later Hrant Dink became a physical target, when he was shot and killed in the street. A teenage nationalist, now on trial, has admitted killing him.

To mark the first anniversary of his murder on 19 January, 19 Turkish celebrities have recorded a selection of his articles onto tape.


Scars of history

Under pressure from the EU to guarantee free speech, the government has pledged repeatedly to amend the law.

So far it is just talk.

Article 301 was used against at least 55 more people in 2007, according to a new report from the organisation Bianet, which monitors press freedoms.

"In Turkey everyone knows they can talk about sensitive issues, but they also know they will probably end up in court," says Bianet editor Erol Onderoglu. "It's a high price to pay."

"We want just to speak and write freely. If people like Hrant Dink want to say what happened in 1915 was genocide, then it's not necessary to stop the debate with a stupid article of law," he adds.

But Hrant Dink has not been silenced.

At the exhibition where his articles are displayed this week there is a notebook in one corner.

Inside, visitors have written him messages.

An Armenian man describes how he was taught to keep quiet about the events of 1915.

"Now I am clear in my thoughts, but I can't voice them," he writes. "When will I be able to speak out?"

And a couple of pages on, there is a message from a Turk.

It is addressed to "Brother Hrant".

"They can kill you, but they cannot kill your ideas - your thoughts," Onur writes. "They can't stop those of us who agree with you expressing your views, unless they kill each and every one of us.

"We miss you. Sleep in peace."

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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