Assassinated Turkish-Armenian journalist commemorated in Yerevan
Meltem Naz Kaşo
Hrant Dink, the editor-in-chief of the İstanbul-based Agos newspaper who was assassinated outside of his office on Jan. 19, 2007, was commemorated at the Tsitsernakaberd memorial complex in Yerevan on the eighth anniversary of his murder.
Approximately 25 participants met at the Tsitsernakaberd, dedicated to the memory of Anatolian Armenians killed during World War I, just a little outside of central Yerevan at 5 p.m. on Monday. The group was mostly made up of activists, artists, scholars and writers from all over Armenia, as well as diaspora Armenians from France, Lebanon and the US. After gathering at the complex, they walked in a silent march toward the opera house in the heart of Yerevan.
While Dink was commemorated in Yerevan before, in 2011 and 2013, those events were performance-based, in places such as the Yerevan Chamber Music Hall. This year’s commemoration event was unique in that it included a march and a moment of silence in memory of Dink.
Speaking with Today’s Zaman, one of the event’s organizers, Suzan Meryem Rosita Aljadeeah, said: “Hrant Dink has inspired a breaking of silence and I think he is a symbol of peace. Today, this walk is a very peaceful walk. I am not walking to make a political statement but walking in memory of him and in prayer.”
A genocide scholar with German and Turkish origins, Aljadeeah is a historian and an artist currently based at Gallery 25-Modern Art Gallery in Gyumri, Armenia. She is also taking part in the Hrant Dink Foundation’s Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme that promotes cross-border affiliations and the cooperation of professionals from Armenia and Turkey.
Aljadeeah noted that she had an opportunity to meet Dink in person in 2004 when she was an undergraduate student of history at Boğaziçi University in İstanbul. At the beginning of a presentation on what she called the Armenian genocide, she was silenced by her professors and classmates. Through political activist groups that she was part of, Aljadeeah met Dink at his office. “I was moved by his resilience and his calm character. It didn’t surprise him at all that I was silenced,” Aljadeeah told Today’s Zaman. That day, Aljadeeah learned from Dink that strength did not come from being aggressive but from being strong within and continuing to make progress in a resilient way.
Dink was best known for his willingness to critically debate the issues of Armenian identity and the official versions of history in Turkey related to the massacres of Armenians in 1915. He was prosecuted for expressing his opinions and later shot and killed by an ultra-nationalist teenager, hit man Ogün Samast. In September 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled against Turkey for not preventing the murder of the journalist and not carrying out an effective investigation afterwards. A renewed court process started in September of last year, but many remain critical of efforts to bring to account high-level public officials who were involved in Dink’s assassination.