23 January 2007


Suspect arrested in murder of journalist Hrant Dink

Incident details

Hrant Dink

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a 22 January 2007 IPI press release:

Vienna, 22 January 2007

IPI Deplores Callous Murder of Journalist in Istanbul

On Friday, 19 January, the Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, was murdered outside the offices of the newspaper he founded.

The journalist, who worked for the weekly newspaper Agos, was apparently shot twice in the head and once in the neck.

Dink was a popular journalist who has faced legal problems for his articles about the massacre of Armenians during the First World War.

These comments have frequently tested harsh Turkish restrictions on discussing this topic, which prohibit "insulting Turkishness." In July, Dink lost an appeal over a suspended six-month prison sentence handed down for an article discussing the massacre.

Aside from this criminal case, Dink was also facing prosecution for a second article condemning his conviction. Turkish prosecutors believe it was an attempt to influence the administration of justice.

The reason for the Turkish government's desire to prosecute journalists and writers who discuss the Armenian massacre is related to the terminology used. Since the event occurred, the Turkish government has refused to accept the term "genocide," while a number of other countries have recognised the term in relation to the incident.

On 20 January, Turkish police arrested a young man suspected of carrying out the murder. According to newspaper reports, he is believed to belong to the youth wing of a right-wing nationalist party.

Commenting on the murder, IPI Director Johann P. Fritz said, "This is a terrible event for Turkish press freedom. It sends the inevitable signal to all Turkish media that, if you discuss the Armenian massacre in the same terms as Dink, you face not only constant harassment from the authorities, but the possibility of assassination."

"In order for Turkey to take its rightful place among other democratic nations, it must do away with all laws that inhibit discussion and dialogue about the massacre of Armenians during the First World War.

"While the investigation has yet to be carried out, it seems probable to me that the continued existence of the dated notion of 'Turkishness' encourages others to take the law into their own hands and commit violence.

"I think the time has now come for the government to realise that such laws have no place in a modern society. I would also hope that, following Dink's murder, there is an open discussion about these issues leading to an agreement by all sides to consign such laws to Turkish history," Fritz added.


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