Assassin of Turkish-Armenian journalist 'treated as national hero'

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Saturday, February 3, 2007

Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist, was assassinated
Placards held in Dink's funeral reading "We are all Hrant Dink" and "We are all Armenian" in Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian. These placards were later protested by MHP and CHP, two major Turkish political parties, as well as by a militant who hijacked a ferry to protest the placards.

According to news reports from Turkey, a number of the members of the Turkish security forces, though unofficially, are treating Ogün Samast, the assassin of Hrant Dink as if he were a national hero.

For instance, after being taken into custody, Samast was filmed shoulder to shoulder with the Turkish police, in front of a Turkish flag and a quote from Turkey's founder Atatürk: "The nation's land is sacred. It cannot be left to fate."

On January 24th, Ogün Samast was transferred to the Bayrampaşa prison, Istanbul's largest prison. Before the transfer, inmates from a section of the prison were temporarily moved to another section, which, as a result, housed more than 100 inmates, 80 more than its maximum capacity. Then, the now-vacant section, often subject to inmates' complaints regarding bedbugs, was cleaned and disinfected. Finally, the walls were painted, a brand new cotton bed was put in, and red carpet was laid out on the floors of the section.

When Samast was brought to the Bayrampaşa Prison, inmates witnessed that he was welcomed with cheers and applause by the jail management, soldiers, and the guards. Witnesses also report that Samast was given two guards to serve him. He ate kebab, a luxury food compared to the food given to other inmates.

After four days, Samast was transferred to the Kandıra F-type Prison.

Ultra-nationalist elements of the Turkish society seem to have penetrated into the Turkish security forces. These events resulted major Turkish newspapers such as Sabah, Radikal, and Vatan to accuse the Turkish security forces and the Turkish state of supporting, endorsing, and cooperating with the killers of the journalist.

A 52 year old Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink was assassinated in front of the Agos newspaper office, at the Istanbul district of Osmanbey, where he worked as the editor and a journalist. Dink, a brave journalist who was not afraid to discuss one of Turkey's most controversial issues, clearly called what happened to Armenians in 1915 when the land was being governed by the Ottoman Empire the Armenian Genocide.

Following her father's assassination, Dink's daughter, referring to the fascist obsession with pure blood, said:

They shot my father. Is their blood purer now? They were afraid to face him, they shot him in the back.

Large numbers of people marched protesting the killing of Hrant Dink on the day of his funeral, carrying placards that read "We are all Armenian" and "We are all Hrant Dink".