News / Europe

Thousands in Turkey Mark Killing of Armenian Journalist Amid Criticism of Court Ruling

Placards and a poster left by friends outside his office as tens of thousands of protesters march to mark the fifth anniversary of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's murder in Istanbul, Turkey, as outrage continues to grow over a trial that failed
Placards and a poster left by friends outside his office as tens of thousands of protesters march to mark the fifth anniversary of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's murder in Istanbul, Turkey, as outrage continues to grow over a trial that failed
Dorian Jones

In Istanbul, tens of thousands of supporters of slain ethnic-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, marked the fifth anniversary of his murder, with many claiming the Turkish state was involved. But a court on Tuesday ruled there was no conspiracy, provoking national and international criticism. 

"We want justice for Hrant," shout supporters of the slain ethnic-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Tens of thousands of people marched through the center of Istanbul to the offices of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, which Dink once edited, to mark the fifth anniversary of his murder. Along with grief, the protesters are expressing anger.

On Tuesday, a court convicted a man for instigating the murder, but acquitted 19 people on state conspiracy charges. For this, Dink supporters say justice was not served.

"The real subjects of this case have not been imprisoned," For me, it represents the state's attitude towards this kind of political murders. Like they mostly protect the killers rather than punish them."

Dink was shot dead just outside his office by 17-year-old nationalist Ogun Samast.  Samast was sentenced last year to 22 years in jail.

But Dink's family and supporters claim senior members of the Turkish state were the architects of his murder. Dink had been a target for nationalists and the state for describing the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during World War I as genocide.  Shortly before his murder he was convicted of insulting Turkey with his views.

The Turkish representative of U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, Emma Sinclair Webb, says with so much evidence implicating the state in Dink's murder, the court's decision gives a disturbing message.

"If you are an Armenian journalist in Turkey, you can be murdered, and your killers who are deeply connected with the state will somehow not be investigated for their links with the state," said Webb. "And the state authorities will not be held to account. That is the message this case gives. And more broadly, the case comes in [a] climate of clamp-down on the government oppositionists and imprisonment of particularly Kurdish journalists."

Turkey's ruling AK party is facing growing criticism in connection with the case. The party had been seen as being in the forefront of purging the state of anti-democratic forces.  

Hundreds of senior state officials, including army officers, are currently on trial as part of Ergenekon, a network prosecutors allege was seeking to overthrow the government and implicated in numerous political assassinations. A prosecutor in the Dink trial also claimed Ergenekon was behind the Dink killing - a charge rejected by the court.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul Bahcesehir University says the Dink verdict is a worrying sign for Turkey. He argues now that the state is purged of anti-government forces, the ruling AK party has become the status quo.

"We have always had a difference between the government and state," said Aktar. "The state was actually working against the AK government in the early years of its power.  But now it is one and the same. It is clear the Turkish democratic transformation is coming to an end. It means the old forces, the old elite, and the old habits will come back."

Addressing the media after the verdict, Fethiye Cetin, a lawyer representing the Dink family, gave a warning to the government.

Cetin says those in power today appear to have formed an alliance with the traditional forces of the state, but she says their alliance is temporary unless the state transforms itself," said Cetin. "She says this traditional force will eventually end its alliance by exterminating those in power.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc acknowledged the criticism about the verdict and says it can be appealed. 

But among Dink supporters protesting the verdict, there are mixed feelings about whether justice can ever be secured.

"No, not now," said a supporter. "But we believe we will get justice with this activity.  We believe we will take our justice for Hrant. We must take justice. It is a state murdering."

"I just believe in the justice, in the people, because I am not believing in justice in this country anymore," aded another supporter.

Dink's supporters are now preparing for a long battle for justice. The outcome of that struggle is being seen as a crucial test for the government in its commitment to democratic reform.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs