Hrant Dink commemorated on eighth anniversary of murder

Hrant Dink commemorated on eighth anniversary of murder

Hrant Dink commemorated on eighth anniversary of murder

Mourners gather to commemorate Hrant Dink on the anniversary of his death in front of a banner that reads 'Face Hrant, face the genocide.' AA Photo

Mourners have marched in Istanbul to commemorate Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, on the eighth anniversary of his killing.

The march started 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 19 from Taksim Square and ended with a homage to Dink in front of the Armenian weekly Agos newspaper’s office building in the Pangaltı neighborhood of Şişli district.

The marchers observed one minute of silence and then chanted slogans in front of the Agos office.

Writer and poet Murathan Mungan gave a speech to the gathered crowd from the window of the office.

“This country not only lost a precious son, but also a prominent journalist. The absence of him and journalists like him is felt more in a period when journalism is suffering a huge loss of dignity. Even if only for this reason, we must look after Agos, which is Hrant Dink’s fourth child and his legacy," Mungan said.

People have been waiting for justice for 12 years in a country ruled by a party that includes “justice” in its name, Mungan added.

“Hrant Dink spoke in the language of peace, as a person who had believed in the equality and brotherhood of all nations,” he said, adding that Dink was the 62nd person in Turkey who had paid the price of his words with his life.

“He was not the spokesperson of Armenians but the voice of all people of Turkey who were oppressed, excluded and exploited. His fight and the fight of those like him is not a fight that can be interrupted by their deaths. The crowds gathered on these squares show this,” Mungan said.

The parents of Berkin Elvan, who died in March 2014 after spending 269 days in a coma after being hit by a tear gas canister during a police crackdown during the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, also attended the ceremony.

A small group of Trabzonspor supporters also came to pay their respects, drawing applause from the crowd. The plot against Dink was hatched in the Black Sea province of Trabzon, a bastion of ultranationalism. Members of the Revolutionaries of Trabzon, a supporters' group for Trabzonspor, marched with a banner of Dink, while shouting, "Trabzon is here, where are the murderers?"

While commemorations in Istanbul were peaceful, police in Ankara attacked a memorial for Dink, detaining 20 people, according to daily BirGün.

Dink, the highly esteemed former editor-in-chief of weekly Agos, was murdered in broad daylight in front of his newspaper’s building on Jan. 19, 2007, by a 17-year-old Turkish nationalist.

The triggerman, Ogün Samast, was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to 22 years and 10 months of prison after a two-year trial.

The trial into the murder resumed Sept. 17, 2013, after the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that all suspects in the case had acted as part of a criminal organization, rather than individually.

Istanbul’s 5th High Criminal Court, which is overseeing the case, announced on Oct. 30, 2014, that it will focus on the “criminal organization” allegations against suspects, a move that lawyers representing the victim’s family have demanded since the start of the retrial.

Yusuf Hayal and Erhan Tuncel are accused of convincing Samast in Trabzon to shoot Dink.

Civil servants and institutions allegedly implicated in the murder of Dink should be investigated, Turkey’s Constitutional Court stated in its detailed ruling on the case on Nov. 12, 2014. The court had earlier stated that the case had not been probed efficiently and the victim’s rights were violated, in a ruling issued in July 2014.

The ruling became a milestone in the case that has been lingering since the killing in 2007. It came after the Justice Ministry cleared the path for investigations into nine civil servants, including senior police officers occupying key posts at the time of the murder. The officials have been accused of negligence and threatening Dink before his death.

Before his killing, Dink had been called to a police department and warned about a possible plot against him. It is therefore thought that the murder plot was known within some state institutions before it happened.

In a recent development, Muhittin Zenit and Özkan Mumcu, two police officers on duty at the police department in Trabzon when Dink was killed in Istanbul, were arrested.

Former Istanbul police chief Celalettin Cerrah, former Trabzon police chief Reşat Altay, former Trabzon Police Intelligence Chief Faruk Sarı, former Istanbul Deputy Governor Ergun Güngör and former Istanbul Police Intelligence Chief Ahmet İlhan Güler have also testified as suspects in the case.