Hrant Dink case drives awareness of 1915 events

Hrant Dink case drives awareness of 1915 events

The verdict against those who murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has the country in uproar. The details of the legal debacle are featured in the Hürriyet Daily News, so there is no need to waste space here. Judging by the reactions, the general sentiment is that justice has not been served in this case.

The government is trying to douse the anger by arguing that the legal process is not over yet since there is still the appeal stage. But it is hard, looking at this verdict, not to conclude that the Turkish judiciary has acted with subjective selectivity again. As always, the problem in Turkey is not the laws but how they are implemented.

There are students whose only “crime” is protesting the government, who are in prison and being tried as “members of a terrorist organization.” There are journalists and ranking generals in similar situations. But we are still expected to believe that those who murdered Hrant Dink acted on their own and not as a “terrorist gang.”

Everyone is also aware that the authorities blocked any investigation into officials accused of criminal negligence or culpability in the Dink case. The comedy is that one of the accused, Erhan Tuncel, was cleared of being an organizer of the murder and released, while a respected journalist, Nedim Şener, is in prison over a book he wrote about official negligence and legal irregularities in the Dink case. 

This Kafkaesque anomaly appears to suggest that the saying “you can’t sue the devil if the court sits in hell” was coined for the legal system in this country. At any rate, as many are pointing out, “the Dink case is not over, it has just begun.” The short of it is that while the gut instinct of officialdom may be to close ranks, in order to “protect Turkishness,” all that this atavism achieves is to sully the reputation of the country.

But as long as this instinct remains in place, those like the Dink family will not get justice in Turkey. They must nevertheless get some satisfaction knowing that the murder of Hrant Dink has also led to increased awareness about the events of 1915 and the plight of Armenians. Meanwhile tens of thousands of Turks have taken to the streets for Hrant Dink, and are still doing so, carrying banners proclaiming “We are all Armenian.”

Even Robert Fisk of the Independent, whom Armenians have admired for his abrasive support of their cause, is surprised. In a column on the Armenian issue (Dec.30, 2011) Fisk said he had just finished 21 interviews on Turkish radio and television and in newspapers. 

“The occasion was the launching of the Turkish-language edition of my book ‘The Great War for Civilization’ – which includes an entire and detailed chapter on the genocide – and which has just appeared in Turkey without any imposition of the infamous law 301 [the “anti-Turkishness” law] nor any threats to Ithaki, my Turkish publishers.” 

He went on to say, “for the most part, Turkish journalists and television presenters simply didn’t question the veracity of what I wrote. And I think I know why. For many hundreds of thousands of Turks, the Armenian genocide is now a fact of history.” 

The key fact here is that it is not the French Parliament, or any other outside pressure, that is forcing Turks to look at 1915 from a perspective other than that of the official Turkish narrative. It is developments like the Hrant Dink murder that is doing this. Outside pressure only provides ultranationalists with fuel for their traditional argument that “wily Westerners only aim to achieve what they could not during WWI by using the Armenians.”