Hrant Dink editor of the Armenian language newspaper Agos, is no longer. With horror we learn that the Armenian-Turkish writer and journalist has been shot dead today, January 19, 2007 near the office of Agos. Hrant Dink, 53, was a courageous and principled advocate for dialogue and understanding between the Armenian minority and the Turks. We all, fellow writers and members of PEN and the WIPC’s of PEN have expressed our shock at this terrible loss of a fine mind. He was known as an honorable, kind man with integrity in his soul.
He was the focus case for the Day of the Imprisoned Writer. There had been hearings against him in December 2006 and two more were scheduled: the first on charges of “insulting Turkishness” under Article 301 for writing an article critical of the very law under which he was being tried, and was scheduled to continue on 22 March; the second case falls under Article 288 of the Penal Code for “attempting to influence a fair trial”. This last one is related to an article published in his newspaper in October 2005 commenting on an earlier conviction, also under Article 301, and was scheduled to continue on 18 April 2007.
Dink, whose campaign against the law making it a crime to insult the Turkish State, particularly as it relates to the killings of Armenians in the early years of the last century, has paid the highest price with his own life.
Jiri Grusa, International President of International PEN, the world association of writers, called the murder “a symptom of old hatreds that threaten the relationship of all Turkish people to the democratic values shared in Europe and the world.” International PEN calls upon the Turkish government to do all in its power to apprehend Dink’s killer and welcomes Prime Minister Erdogan’s pledged commitment that those who ordered the killing be brought to justice.
Hrant Dink was well known to PEN members throughout the world and had received many awards for his courage, including, most recently, the Oxfam/Novib award for Freedom of Expression in November 2006. He was an honorary member of the English, American, Belgian Dutch and Norwegian PEN Centers, and friend to many more PEN Centers and individual PEN members around the globe.
Freedom of thought, free speech are unalienable rights. As long as thought is fought with violence, as long as differences are met with bullets, as long as dialogue is silenced, we must mourn our travel companions on the road of words…
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