PARIS – To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Hrant Dink, on January 19th, the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party’s Nazarpek Youth Organization and the Armenian Council of Europe, organized a conference entitled “Freedom of speech-thinkers in Turkey,” at the Armenian Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist.
The speakers included journalist Vilma Kouyoumdjian, Armenian Magazine news editor Ara Toranian, journalist and writer Erol Ozkoray, founder of the Belgian publishing house Ragip Zarakolu who is also a friend of Hrant Dink, and a founding member of the Association of Human Rights in Turkey.
After observing a moment of silence to honor his memory, the speakers evoked the true spirit and personality of Hrant Dink, and his impact on Turkish society to the audience of about 150 community leaders, members, activists and observers.
Dink was an active and pragmatic activist for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. It was crucial for him that Turkey and Armenia create better ties between the two nations, which he believed would solve the Armenian Question organically. He sometimes held positions that were misunderstood by the Diaspora, positions which followed a logic specific to the context of Turkey. In spite of those misunderstandings he succeeded in breaking the lead scales that weighed on the taboo of the Genocide by bringing to light Turkish intellectuals, scholars and average citizens who were allies of the Armenian Cause. In spite of this achievement, Dink knew that his life was in danger, but nonetheless refused to flee Turkey.
In addition to Dink’s resilience and courage, the current political climate in Turkey was also discussed during the conference’s question and answer session. “The automatic drift in Turkey does not prevent dialogue between Turkish and Armenian civil society,” said Saro Mardiryan, coordinator of the Armenian Council of Europe in France. “No empire is eternal, no one can foresee what will happen tomorrow in Turkey. With or without Erdogan, nothing should stop us from continuing the voice of dialogue opened by Hrant Dink.”