One year ago, Hrant Dink, a courageous Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor, journalist, and human rights defender was silenced forever. He sought open debate, dialogue, and cooperation between all ethnic and religious communities in Turkey and across the political spectrum. On January 19, 2007, he was shot dead outside his office in Istanbul in an apparently politically and ethnically motivated killing.
Dink was identified by his murderers as an Armenian who had been convicted in court for “insulting Turkishness.” In the 18 months prior to his murder he had been the subject of three prosecutions for speech-related offenses. For an article in which he discussed Armenian identity, in July 2006 he received a six-month suspended sentence under Article 301, a provision of the Turkish penal code that criminalizes “publicly insulting Turkishness".
On the one-year anniversary of his death, the human rights community mourns the loss of a writer and activist deeply committed to democratization and human rights in Turkey.
At 3 p.m. on January 19, 2008, a vigil organized by the friends of Hrant Dink will be held at the spot where he was killed, outside the offices of Agos (“ploughed furrow”), the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper he founded and edited, and for which he wrote a column.
Human Rights Watch has joined Turkish and international groups in demanding justice for Dink. A representative of Human Rights Watch will be present outside the courtroom on February 11 for the third hearing of the trial of 19 defendants in the Dink murder. They include the then 17-year-old gunman and leaders of a gang that allegedly appointed him to carry out the killing.
Human Rights Watch continues to urge the Turkish government to conduct an independent, thorough and transparent investigation into concerns that members of the security forces failed to act on reported threats to kill Dink and allegedly obstructed justice during the investigation.