Tuesday, January 30, 2007

They said it, not me...

I haven't even had the time to write my own comments on what I think of the coverage, reaction and symbolism of Hrant's death and IHT has already gotten to a core conclusion that I think was already on the tip of most Armenians' tongues...mine included.

Hopes for reconciliation fade following funeral of slain Turkish journalist
Thursday, January 25, 2007
ANKARA, Turkey

As waves of mourners rolled through the streets of Istanbul this week in honor of slain ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, many liberal Turks were swept up in a sense that an unprecedented chance for ethnic reconciliation was at hand.

But just two days later, a darker reality was setting in: Many Turks are rejecting the appeals for solidarity and democratic reform as ultranationalists — some inspired by hardcore Islam — become ever more strident and daring.

A large proportion of the tens of thousands who joined Dink's funeral procession were urban intellectuals, hardly representative of a nation of more than 70 million people where conservative Islamic values are deep-seated and the military is the most trusted institution.

In fact, many Turks support the views of nationalists who are becoming increasingly vocal in their condemnation of Western values they feel are being imposed on them by the European Union, which is considering Turkey's membership bid.

Dink had been forced to stand trial by nationalists angered by his calls to recognize the killings of Armenians in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire as a genocide. He was gunned down Friday in front of the offices of his bilingual Armenian-Turkish newspaper — allegedly by a teenager who had been incited to the crime by ultrarightists.

During his funeral procession on Tuesday, mourners chanted "We are all Armenians," urged liberal reform and called for the repeal of the law used to convict Dink on charges of "insulting Turkishness."

However, most Turks interviewed by The Associated Press on Thursday said the marchers did not represent the country and said they were against making concessions to Armenians on the sensitive issue of the killings.

"They should speak for themselves, they cannot speak on behalf of Turks," said Filiz Un, 32. "I am sorry for him as a human but they cannot pretend that all the Turkish public is behind them."

Turkey's expulsion and killings of Armenians during World War I — which Armenians say claimed 1.5 million lives — is a dark chapter rarely discussed publicly in Turkey or taught in its schools.

Turkey vehemently denies it was genocide and is battling Armenian diaspora groups that are pushing European governments and the United States to declare the killings genocide.

A headline in the right-wing newspaper Tercuman said that those who aren't proud to be Turkish "should clear off and leave." The article ran a day after a threat against Nobel prize-winner Orhan Pamuk by a handcuffed suspect charged with inciting the murder of Dink.

Turkey's largest nationalist party responded to the mourners' chants by posting its own slogan — "We are all Turks" — on a digital display outside a local party branch in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya.

...

"There is a fault line passing right through the middle of society," wrote Turker Alkan, a columnist for the center-left Radikal newspaper. "Those who cannot reconcile Hrant Dink's murder with humanity, consciousness and moral values are on the one side; those who don't really oppose the murder because of their nationalist sentiments and their religious beliefs are on the other."

Selami Ince, news editor of the Istanbul-based Alawite television, Su TV, explained that few of the marchers at the funeral were Turks with roots in the Anatolian heartland.

"Unfortunately, they do not represent the Turkish public," Ince said. "The Turkish public has not filled the streets with demands of democracy and freedom. They were leftists, Armenians, Kurds and those intellectuals who favor multiculturalism."

....

full article here: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/01/26/europe/EU-GEN-Turkey-Nationalist-Backlash.php

2 comments:

Kyle said...

Hey Rima, I'm still reading your blog. You're an inspiration. Read this commentary on the weblog of First Things magazine.

http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=616

Take the best care of yourself.
-Kyle Erickson

artate said...

Another good article about dink, written by a Turkish academic:

http://www.merip.org/mero/mero021607.html

The Pigeon on the Bridge Is Shot
Ayşe Kadıoğlu
February 16, 2007

“Sometimes they ask me what it is like to be an Armenian. I tell them that it is a wonderful thing and I recommend it to everyone.” These were Hrant Dink’s opening remarks at a conference entitled “Ottoman Armenians During the Collapse of the Ottoman Empire,” held in Istanbul on September 24 and 25, 2005. Those of us lucky enough to hear the mischievous introductory lines received them with joyous laughter, but we also knew we were witnesses to a lecture of historic significance, a momentous step forward in the efforts of Armenians and Turks to come to terms with the horrors of the past.

Little more than a year later, on January 19, 2007, Dink, the editor-in-chief of the Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos, was assassinated in front of his office on a busy street in Istanbul. On the day of his funeral, when more than 100,000 people (mostly Muslim Turks) marched with banners proclaiming “We are all Armenians” and “We are all Hrant Dink,” I could not help but think that we had indeed taken him up on his advice. Yet this time, most of us were crying.

Hrant Dink was a meticulous writer and speaker. He chose his words carefully, including the ones for which he was prosecuted by the Turkish state. I think he was referring to two things when he recommended becoming Armenian to his audience at the conference. First, he was pointing to the need for empathy in modern societies -- an essential theme that he underlined on other occasions. He urged Turks to listen to the grievances of Armenians and empathize with these people, whose ancestors were deported and massacred by the crumbling Ottoman Empire in 1915. He also exhorted diaspora Armenians to empathize with the Turks, who do not want to think of their ancestors and themselves as perpetrators of genocide. Second, he wanted to make clear that one could belong to a national or religious community by voluntary declaration. Dink was against ascriptive criteria for community membership; these inevitably led, in his opinion, to racism. Citizenship, in his eyes, was really an allegiance to a multi-national, constitutional state, rather than loyalty to a single nationality or religion. As a country, Turkey belonged to all the groups that inhabited its territory, not just the Turks. He saw that Anatolian soil had been a mosaic prior to the Turkification policies instigated by the Turkish state in the twentieth century. In that soil Dink found his salvation.