Saturday, January 20, 2007

An Editor Murdered in Turkey

Yesterday, a Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor named Hrant Dink was murdered in Istanbul. As the Guardian reports, Dink was an outspoken advocate of free expression:

Dink had gone on trial numerous times for speaking out about the mass killings of Armenians by Turks. He had received threats from nationalists who viewed him as a traitor. He was a public figure in Turkey and, as the editor of Agos, one of its most prominent Armenian voices.

In his last newspaper column, Dink said he had become famous as an enemy of Turks and that he had received threats against him. He said he had received no protection from authorities despite his complaints. "My computer's memory is loaded with sentences full of hatred and threats," Dink wrote. "I am just like a pigeon ... I look around to my left and right, in front and behind me as much as it does. My head is just as active."

One email threatening his children worried him particularly, he wrote, adding that police had taken no action after he complained.

As the article notes, Dink was one of numerous Turkish writers to have been charged under Turkey's infamous Article 301:

That was the same charge that had been levelled at the Nobel prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk. Dink, however, was the only Turk to be convicted. Like Pamuk, Dink was taken to court by ultra-nationalists last year, and many believe they were behind his killing.

"This was an organised attempt by those who want to destroy Turkey's European Union aspirations and cast Turkey into darkness," said Akin Birdal, the former head of Turkey's Human Rights Association, who was himself shot and severely wounded in 1998 by suspected nationalists.

Whether it was committed by extreme nationalists or radical Islamists, Dink's murder was clearly intended as an attack on free expression. In the words of Turkey's Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, "(a) bullet was fired at freedom of thought and democratic life".


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