“Every department of the state is responsible for Hrant Dink’s murder, as well as Gülenists”
It has been 11 years since Hrant Dink, the editor in chief of the bilingual Armenian-Turkish weekly newspaper, Agos, was killed by then-teenager Ogün Samast.
On the 11th anniversary of this senseless killing, we interviewed Dink's colleagues and friends about his murder, and the investigation into this brutal crime for Ahval.
Yetvart Danzikyan, editor-in-chief of Agos newspaper:
“Hrant had found a way to talk about Armenian-Turkish issues, which had been covered up, ignored and suppressed by Turkish governments for generations. He candidly spoke and wrote about the Great Catastrophe, and created awareness among the Turkish public of the Armenian issue. And this led to his senseless murder. The administration did not want that transformation, and they decided to silence Hrant.
“The point we reached in the investigation after 11 years is not satisfying at all. Some time ago, the Gülenists claimed that 'Ergenekon’ group was responsible. Later, when the infighting started among the administration and Gülenists, the government contended that the Gülenists were accountable for the killing. When we look at the whole of the investigation, as well as Gülenists, we think that every department of the state is responsible for this murder. The Ergenekon network included. I mean it was a collective act.
“When we look at the court proceedings of Hrant Dink's murder, we can see that some Gülenist police officers, administrators and officials, all departments of the state was involved.”
Fikret Başkaya, writer, academician, founder of Özgür University
“Hrant Dink had shown the courage to infringe on the state taboos.
“His approach was very dignified. The sacred state decided that it was time to silence him and they did silence him. And showcase trials followed. Many want to believe that the trial will reveal the administration's culpability. Isn't that against the nature of things? In this country, another name for state murders is unsolved murders, and moreover, there are hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of these unsolved murders. Hrant was slaughtered 11 years ago for the high interests of the sacred state. The fog on this brutal murder is still there. Could it be any different?”
Ümit Kıvanç, journalist, writer, documentary producer
“Hrant Dink was a tremendous opportunity for Turkey. He was more Anatolian than many people who consider themselves as the main possessors of this country.
“He wouldn't be killed if he was a prejudiced, obsessive, nationalist, vindictive, irreconcilable person. He was the exact opposite. He was trying to show Turkish society how to be absolved and vindicated of this burden in an honourable way ... people started to question (the historical events) because it was impossible to listen to Hrant and not (appreciate his viewpoint).
“The way things are going, the Hrant Dink case cannot bring substantial justice. We have for the last 10 years, been trying to merge the lawsuits against government officials that are interspersed between separate cases and the cases against the ignorant, aggressive youths used to pull the trigger. Right now, this has virtually happened.
“Everyone involved in Dink's murder is brought to court, except for the highest level. But there is no serious, in-depth investigation.
“Right now, the case continues with the focus of framing FETÖ for the crime. In that sense, I don't expect a useful verdict. But the prosecution might serve the purpose of shedding light on the inner workings of the state institutions behind the murder.”
Ömer Laçiner, editor-in-chief of Birikim magazine
“Hrant Dink was an enlightened scholar who was able to explain to the majority of Turkish society the possible healing effects of a dialogue between Turks, Kurds and Armenians about the biggest Turkish taboo, the Armenian genocide.
“The Hrant Dink murder prosecution, for the first few years, focused on a few criminal conspirators. Once the AKP decided to confront the military tutelage, the focus turned on to the sledgehammer and Ergenekon (conspiracy) perpetrators, who were involved with the conspirators. During the discovery period, when ties to certain AKP officials and (Fethullah Gülen) movement members were discovered, the government did its best to cover them up. However, once the AKP started clashing with the Gülenists, they started covering up the Ergenekon involvement and re-centred the focus on FETÖ members, reframing the murder as a FETÖ conspiracy. And that is where we still are right now.”
Gülseren Yoleri, president of the Human Rights Association, (IHD) Istanbul branch
“Hrant Dink was advocating a peaceful solution to a massive problem.
“If we define justice as bringing all who are responsible for the murder to court, that won't be easy. But there is progress. I don't think it is impossible to get to the real killers if we persist the way we have till now.”
Murat Belge, author and academic
“Hrant represented the most progressive solution and opportunities with regards to dealing with the Armenian genocide issue. He was not vengeful. He knew and loved the Turks.
“By killing him, Turkey, or some part of Turkish society, destroyed the possibility of a peaceful resolution. It is doubtful that another Hrant will emerge. He was an exceptional man in all respects.
“The efforts to cover-up the real criminals have been successful so far. Unless there are radical changes in Turkey, I doubt that (the real criminals will be brought to justice). The AKP has also shown its intent to continue the cover-up.”