ISTANBUL – A large gathered in front of the former offices of the Agos newspaper in İstanbul to commemorate Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was murdered 17 years ago, Agos reported on Friday.
The 52-year-old Dink, editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual Agos weekly, was shot dead with two bullets to the head in broad daylight outside the newspaper’s headquarters in Şişli on January 19, 2007, by a then-17-year-old jobless high school dropout.
Dink’s murder sent shockwaves through the nation and left a lasting impact on Turkish society, as he had been a prominent supporter of Turkey’s democratization and the reconciliation efforts between Turks and Armenians.
This year, the journalist was commemorated in an event attended by hundreds of people, including Dink’s family and friends and a number of opposition politicians and civil society organization representatives, who gathered in front of the former offices of the Agos newspaper.
Sociologist and writer Oya Baydar, who delivered the commemorative speech, described Dink as “both the carrier of the troubles and pains of this country and the remedy and conscience of oppressed individuals and suffering nations.”
“He was a taboo breaker who opposed the lies and cover-ups of official history. And we know that hidden forces in the darkness fear most the breaking of taboos, the revelation of their lies and the exposure of their dark faces. That’s why they shot Hrant,” Baydar said.
Besna Tosun from the Saturday Mothers, a group of activists and relatives seeking to learn the fate of loved ones who disappeared while in police custody in Turkey in the 1990s, read a message sent from prison by Çiğdem Mater, one of the defendants in the Gezi Park trial.
“After 17 years, the 17-year-old killer is now among you, just like those who ordered him to kill [Dink] are among you. … We will not give up seeking the darkness behind the Hrant Dink murder, nor will we abandon our demand for justice,” Mater said.
She was referring to the release of Ogün Samast, the convicted murderer of Dink, from prison in western Bolu province on November 15, 2023, which led to outrage among opposition politicians, journalists, human rights activists and social media users.
The slain journalist’s wife Rakel Dink; Tülay Hatimoğulları, the co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM); main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Ünal Çeviköz; and Ahmet Şık, a lawmaker from the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP), were among those who attended the event.
On Friday, January 19 at 15:00 (UTC+3), Hrant Dink was commemorated where he was assassinated 17 years ago, in front of the Sebat Building which used to house the office of the Agos Newspaper. In addition to the large crowd gathered in front of the Sebat Building, viewers from outside Istanbul were able to participate in the commemoration through the live broadcast in English and Turkish.
Besna Tosun who is one of the Saturday Mothers/People read Çiğdem Mater’s letter who has been imprisoned at the Bakırköy Prison under the Gezi Trials since April 2022. In her message, Çiğdem Mater said “The murder committed on 19 January 2007 right in front of the Sebat Building was not a “momentary” act. We know this very well. On top of the unlawfulness of the past 17 years, what lies beneath is a century-old unlawfulness.”