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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs