Ottawa, Ontario – Nine years ago, on January 19, 2007, the prominent Turkish-Armenian editor of the “Agos” newspaper Hrant Dink was assassinated in Istanbul while standing outside his office. Dink had written and spoken about the Armenian Genocide, was well known for his efforts for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians and for his advocacy of human and minority rights in Turkey. He had been under prosecution for violating Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and for “denigrating Turkishness”. His murder sparked both massive national protests in Turkey itself as well as widespread international outrage. Hrant Dink’s assassination is now memorialized in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.
Article 301, which came into effect in 2005, is a controversial article of the Turkish penal code making it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity, or Turkish government institutions. It is one of the most extreme measures supported by the Turkish government to oppose freedom of speech especially regarding the issue of the Armenian Genocide. Hrant Dink was among the people convicted under the article and his life was under constant threat. Despite knowing that Dink was the subject of numerous threats, Turkish authorities did nothing to protect him and some were even involved in the plot that ultimately took his life.
Unfortunately, the Republic of Turkey has done nothing to bring to justice the true perpetrators of Hrant Dink’s assassination and Turkey remains the world’s worst offender when it comes to imprisoning journalists. Reporters
Without Borders declared “TURKEY – WORLD’S BIGGEST PRISON FOR JOURNALISTS” in 2012. In 2014, Turkey passed new laws allowing it to control all social media and last March, both Youtube and Twitter were blocked in Turkey despite international protests, including by the Canadian government.
Akın Birdal, the former president of the Human Rights Association (İHD) in Turkey, has said the assassination attempt against him in 1998, the murder of Hrant Dink in 2007, and the recent killing of Kurdish lawyer and human rights activist Tahir Elçi in a shootout in Diyarbakır on Nov. 28, 2015 are all “part of the same plan” and were carried out by the “same organizations.”
Birdal continued by stating “Turkey’s history is full of assassination attempts and secret killings. This tradition comes from the Committee of Union and Progress [CUP, which ruled during the last years of the Ottoman Empire]. Many journalists were killed. Current developments are a reflection of the past on today. I was targeted at İHD headquarters, Hrant was targeted in front of his newspaper in the middle of the day, and they shot Tahir during a press conference. These incidents are clearly aimed at intimidation and these attacks are part of same dark plan carried out by the same organizations that have continued since the CUP period.”
Armenian National Committee of Canada President Dr. Girair Basmadjian said “the conspirators behind the assassination of Hrant Dink remain free to this day. If Turkey cares about freedom of expression, it must repeal Article 301, protect the rights of its minority peoples to speak the truth and bring Hrant Dink’s killers to justice.”
The Armenian National Committee of Canada stands together with all right-thinking people inside and outside Turkey in condemning any attempt to violently restrict freedom of expression.
Armenian National Committee of Canada
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots human rights organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues.