Friday, January 19, 2007

Murder of Hrant Dink, Journalist

a somewhat incomplete article, but it's the first one I could find. more to follow.

Outspoken journalist shot dead in Istanbul
POSTED: 10:48 a.m. EST, January 19, 2007

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- A prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist who spoke out against the killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire early last century was shot to death Friday.
Hrant Dink, 53, editor of the Armenian-Turkish language weekly Agos newspaper, was shot dead in front of the Istanbul publication as he was leaving.

The killing prompted swift denunciation by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said the attack was a "shock" and an "insult" to the Turkish nation and a "dark day" -- not only for Dink's family but for all of Turkey as well.

"The dark hands that killed him will be found and punished," Erdogan said, in televised remarks.

Authorities are looking into a lead that he was shot four times by a young man who appeared to be 18 or 19 years old.

Described as a "well-known commentator on Armenian affairs," Dink has faced a number of cases in connection with "insulting" the Turkish state for his writings.

"Some of the trial hearings have been marred by violent scenes inside and outside the courtrooms, instigated by nationalist activists calling for Dink to be punished," said a profile on the Web site of Pen American Center -- the writers' group that promotes free expression.
Agos, an Armenian-Turkish language weekly, was established in 1996.

Andrew Finkel, a journalist in Turkey and a friend of Dink's, emphasized that the killing was "a tragedy" for a country attempting to "come to terms with its past."

Finkel said resentment toward Dink existed among ultranationalist Turks, and said the same people who staged "ugly scenes" at his trials are the same people who staged rallies directed at Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish writer who faced charges of insulting Turkishness as well.

He described Dink as a "bright" and brash" man who was a "well-known figure in Istanbul" and an advocate for Turkey's small Armenian community -- a once-populous group now numbering around 60,000 or 70,000.

"If anything, he was a great Turkish patriot," Finkel told CNN in an interview.
Pen's profile said that in 2005, Dink "had been charged for an article published in Agos in which he discussed the impact on present day Armenian diaspora of the killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by the Ottoman army in 1915-17."

Hot-button issue

This is a hot-button issue in the region, Pen notes.

Armenians and other countries regard the killings of Armenians in the early 20th century as a a genocide, a claim rejected by the Turkish government, which says Armenians and Turks were killed in civil warfare.

Dink was one of the most prominent voices of Turkey's shrinking Armenian community.
A Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, he had received threats from nationalists, who viewed him as a traitor.

In an earlier interview with The Associated Press, Dink had cried as he talked about some of his fellow countrymen's hatred for him, saying he could not stay in a country where he was unwanted.

Joel Campagna, Mideast program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said, "Like dozens of other Turkish journalists, Hrant Dink has faced political persecution because of his work. Now it appears he's paid the ultimate price for it."

Campagna said that Turkey "must ensure that this crime does not go unpunished like other cases in the past and that those responsible for his murder are brought to justice."

He said that over the last 15 years, 18 Turkish journalists have been killed -- making the country the eighth deadliest in the world for journalists in that period. He said that many of the deaths took place in the early 1990s "at the peak of the Kurdish separatist insurgency."

He said killings, other attacks against journalists that don't result in deaths, and the many cases of Turkish journalists facing criminal charges under "vague statutes" create a "chilling effect" among media workers.

Private NTV television said police were searching for the suspected murderer, believed to be a teenager wearing a white hat and a denim jacket, but the identity and motivation of the shooter were unknown, AP reported.

Dink's body could be seen covered with a white sheet in front of the newspaper's entrance. NTV said four empty shell casings were found on the ground and that he was killed by two bullets to the head.

Fehmi Koru, a columnist at the Yeni Safak newspaper, said the murder was aimed at destabilizing Turkey.

"His loss is the loss of Turkey," Koru said.

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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