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Thousands of People Commemorate Hrant Dink

BİA News Center

An estimated forty thousand people commemorated slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink with a walk from Taksim to the Agos newspaper in Şişli where the editor-in-chief of the Armenian weekly was gunned down five years ago on 19 January 2007.

The Friends of Hrant organization had called for the march in silence without any organizational flags or banners. However, two days after the widely criticized decision of the Dink trial, the slogan “The murder state will give an account” was shouted. Many people held up the black round signs which became characteristic for their struggle for justice throughout the past five years reading “We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian”. Members of the Dink family were walking in the front of the procession.

The Istanbul Police Directorate took security measures like closing the Osmanbey Metro station. The Cumhuriyet Street, the main traffic connection between Taksim and Şişli, was closed to traffic. Police helicopters were circling the region.

The procession was also joined by the family of Private Sevag Balıkçı who was killed by a stray bullet on 24 April 2011, on the 96th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, when he was doing his military service in Batman. Hürriyet newspaper writer Ahmet Hakan and author Vedat Türkali attended the procession as well.

Many people supported the procession from windows of the buildings on the road side. Some offices with a bird’s eye view of the procession left their doors open for photographers.

Gülten Kaya, widow of singer Ahmet Kaya who died in 2000 in exile in Paris, commented the huge participation in the procession, “The number of people here represents all people with a conscience. Turkey is going through a breaking point”.

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder criticized the court decision: “The state scoops an organization out of everywhere. If the stated does not scoop an organization out of this, it can only mean one thing. The state has undertaken the murder and the murderer is the state. Talking about an appeal after this does not matter anymore. This has been convicted by the people’s conscience. An appeal is not important”.

The number of people who gathered in front of the Agos newspaper office for the ceremony was estimated at fifteen thousand people coming from various directions. Many people left flowers in front of the Agos building were the commemoration ceremony was held. This is also the place where the Şişli municipality installed a tablet bearing an inscription in Turkish and Armenian marking the place Dink was killed.

One of the people leaving flowers was writer Adalet Ağaoğlu. He kissed the red carnation in his hand and left it at the place Dink was shot and died.

An enormous banner was posted at the Agos building reading, “Even if five years pass, even if 95 years pass, this trial will not end that way”.

At 3.00 pm a minute of silence was held in memory for Hrant Dink. After that, people started shouting slogans like “The murderer state will give account”, “Long live the brotherhood of peoples” or “This trial will not be over before we say so”.

Karin Karakaşlı read out a statement on behalf of the Friends of Hrant. She had previously evaluated the decision of the Dink trial for bianet. Just two days earlier, the defendants of the case received various sentences but all were acquitted from charges of membership of an illegal organization. “It is a very strange situation. A decision was reached but everybody, included the ones who gave it, is disturbed by it”.

When the crowd dispersed, a group of about 30 people attacked cars that were trying to get through to Taksim. After an intervention of the riot forces, the group tried to escape into side streets. Some people were reportedly taken into police custody. (HK)