TURKS DEMAND JUSTICE FOR SLAIN JOURNALIST HRANT DINK

Southeast European Times, MD
Jan 21 2008

Commemorating the first anniversary of Turkish-Armenian journalist
Hrant Dink's murder, thousands of people demanded on Saturday that
all those behind his assassination be brought to justice.

(Zaman - 21/01/08; Bianet - 20/01/08; Reuters, AP, AFP, DPA, UPI, BBC -
19/01/08; Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders - 18/01/08)

Thousands of people gathered in downtown Istanbul on Saturday (January
19th) to commemorate the first anniversary of Turkish-Armenian
journalist Hrant Dink's murder.

Carrying banners reading "For Hrant, For Justice", the mourners
placed red carnations on the spot where the founder and editor of the
bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly, Agos, was last seen alive. Dink,
who devoted his life to the reconciliation between his community
and the majority Muslim Turks, was gunned down on January 19th 2007,
outside his newspaper's offices.

With a huge portrait of the ethnic Armenian journalist covering part
of the building where he worked and candles lit on the street, the
mourners observed a minute of silence at the exact time he was shot
by Ogun Samast, who is described as a hardline nationalist from the
Black Sea city of Trabzon.

"We are at the pavement where they tried to clean his blood with soap,"
Dink's widow, Rakel, said at the ceremony, reportedly attended by
10,000 people. "You are here for justice today. A scream for justice
rises from your silence."

Samast -- who immediately confessed to the killing -- and 18 others,
most of them also from Trabzon, are currently being tried in Istanbul.

Claiming that evidence has been destroyed and that authorities have
refused to probe the suspected involvement of members of Turkish
security forces in the murder plot, lawyers representing the Dink
family have described the investigation as flawed.

"Unnecessary administrative decisions blocked judicial investigations
of state employees that should have been carried out," the group quoted
Bahri Bayram Belen, one of the lawyers, as saying. "Since the initial
investigation, certain enquiries ... have not been appropriately
conducted because the security forces did not participate."

Marking the first anniversary, Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty
International urged Turkish authorities to bring all those involved in
the case to justice. They also repeated their call for the abolition
of the controversial Article 301, which makes it a crime to insult
"Turkishness" and has been used against scores of Turkish journalists,
writers and intellectuals.

Dink was prosecuted on charges of "denigrating Turkishness" due to an
article describing the killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians
during World War I as "genocide", which is not the official Turkish
position on the issue. He was convicted and given a six-month suspended
sentence in July 2006.

"The continuing suppression of freedom of expression in Turkey has
created an atmosphere of deadly intolerance culminating in the killing
of Hrant Dink," Amnesty International's researcher on Turkey Andrew
Gardner said on Friday. "In addition to implementing current legal
reforms, urgent legislative reform must be adopted. The authorities
must seize the opportunity to advance the protection of fundamental
rights and freedoms for all in the new constitution that is being
drafted."

Turkish Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin told journalists Saturday
that draft amendments to Article 301 would soon be submitted to
parliament.

According to Reporters Without Borders, the proposed changes fall
"well short of satisfying" its calls for the complete abolition of
the controversial legislation, as "the proposed amendment offers
no solution to the problem of the article's arbitrary application
by judges."

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com