On January 22, I attended the Remembrance Day gathering of the tenth anniversary of Hrant Dink murder, at the Armenian Community Center (ACC) in Toronto. The murder took place in front of Agos newspaper office in Istanbul, Turkey, on January 19. 2007. Hrant Dink was the founder and editor of the bilingual (Armenian and Turkish) Agos newspaper. He was 53 year old.
The gathering was organized by Armenian cultural organizations in Toronto. Premier Kathleen Wynn of Ontario was in attendance and addressed the gathering emphasizing the importance and the need for dialogue.
The main speaker was Cem Ozdemir of Turkish decent. He is a member of the German Bundestag, (Parliament) and co-chair of the Green Party of Germany. On June. 2016 he was the co-sponsor of a resolution where the German Bundestag recognized the deportations and the murder of the Armenian people during the first world war by Turkish government, as Genocide.
His speech (in English language) was most appropriate and meaningful. Apart from paying tribute to Hrant Dink’ memory, he also emphasized Hrant’ belief and dedication to the democratization of Turkey and dialogue between Turks and Armenians.
Short video clips from Hrant Dink’ lectures and interviews, during different conferences, made his memory come alive and emotionally connect with the audience. There was also a Video message from his wife Rakel Dink addressed to the gathering that was very poignant and emotionnal. She is a brave and altruistic Lady dedicated to uphold the legacy of her late husband and bring the perpetrator(s) of the crime to justice.
There was also a short video presentation that has been surfaced ten years after the crime was committed. It showed the seventeen year old brainwashed teenage murderer in conversation with two other people who are identified as secret police officers. The video proves the known fact that, the teenage murderer was not alone committing the crime.
Hrant Dink was a brave Armenian journalist and intellectual born and raised in Turkey who advocated dialogue between Armenians and Turks and believed and fought for democracy and free speech in Turkey. He even publicly criticized the French law to make it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide in France when it was first proposed by French government. As a true journalist and intellectual, he considered it to be a law that prevented the freedom of speech in France. He was absolutely right.
If any noisy and ignorant Turk nationalist or any equally ignorant “crack head” denies the Armenian Genocide, he or she should be ignored. We should be careful not to fall in their “trap” and inadvertently give them the undeserving publicity that they want.
If any academic denies the Armenian Genocide, his or her academic credibility should be challenged by knowledgeable academicians within the academic circles without unduly politicizing it.
Hrant’ ground breaking book titled TWO CLOSE PEOPLES TWO DISTANT NEIGHBORS, best expresses his thoughts on the important issues on Armenian and Turkish relations. It would have been most appropriate if the book was made available and sold at the gathering. (The book is available from amazon.com for those who wish to purchase it).
The cover of the book gives real meaning to the saying of “a picture is worth thousand words”. It is a picture of Hrant Dink watching the deep Akhooryan river gorge from Ani Ruins in Turkey. The deep gorge at that point separates Armenia and Turkey. (I have been on both sides of the gorge and it is hard not to have the sad feeling that the cover of the book portrays).
This book is a must read for English speaking Armenians and Turks, specially by young generation. I also recommend to read Hrant Dink’ Last Column in Agos dated January 10 2007 (just 9 days beforde he was murdered) to see how brave and altruistic person he was. (Easily available by Google search).
Hrant Dink was a proud and knowledgeable Armenian patriot, and an active Turkish citizen. As was said earlier, he was a true believer and fighter for democratization of Turkey and dialogue between Turkish and Armenian people to talk about their common past history as reasonable people and not as hateful adversaries.
Hrant also argued that, any involvement of the third party foreign governments through none binding resolutions to recognize the Armenian Genocide were meaningless, if not harmful, to the process of dialogue between Armenian and Turkish people. These resolutions he argued, serves only the interests of those foreign governments who shamefully use such a human tragedy of unprecedented proportion to “even scores” with Turkish Government. He was absolutely right.
I would go a step further and say that, we, the Diaspora Armenians, who pride ourselves with the passage of such none binding resolutions, should also be ashamed for our complicity for sometimes over-politicizing the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, at the expense of the human sufferings, that our ancestors endure during our greatest tragedy, the Meds Yeghern.
Here I would like to emphasize that, of all about two dozen countries that recognized the Armenian Genocide, (including that of Canada), the German recognition stands out not only as for the resolution’ meaningful content, but also, due to the fact that, at the time, the German government, being an ally of the Turkish government, bears some responsibility either as a direct accomplice, or as a “silent partner” in the crime. (For further details of the German resolution please see my Monologue dated June 21 2016).
Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian.