PEN Alarmed by Murder of Armenian-Turkish Journalist

PEN Alarmed by Murder of Armenian-Turkish Journalist
PEN American Center Online this Week

New York, NY, January 19, 2007— PEN, the international association
of writers, is appalled by the news of the murder today of
Armenian-Turkish journalist _Hrant Dink_
( /prmID/174) , who was shot
dead outside his office in Istanbul.

Dink, one of the most prominent ethnic Armenians in Turkey, was
editor-in-chief of the Armenian-Turkish weekly newspaper Agos, a paper
thatseeks to provide a voice to the Armenian community and create a
dialogue between Turks and Armenians. He was also a well-known
commentator on Armenian affairs. In July 2006, Dink was handed a
six-month suspended sentence for insulting Turkishness after writing
an article which called for Armenians to =80=9Cnow turn their
attention to the new life offered by an independent Armenia.’ A week
later, the Istanbul Public Prosecutor opened a new case against Dink
for referring tothe 1915 massacre of Armenians as a "genocide" during
a July 14 interview with Reuters. Dink was awaiting his next trial for
these charges at the time ofhis death.

`We are horrified,’ said Larry Siems, Director of Freedom to Write and
International Programs at PEN American Center. `Hrant Dink was oneof
the heroes of the nonviolent movement for freedom of expression in
Turkey-a movement in which writers, editors, and publishers have
practiced civil disobedience by defying laws that censored or
suppressed important truths in that country. Theirs is one of the
most significant human rights movements of our time. Hrant Dink’s
countrymen can help cement some of the gains he helped win for them by
sending a strong, unified message that those responsible must be
brought to justice for his murder.’

Just before his assassination, Dink had complained of death threats he
was receiving from nationalists. Early reports note that Dink was shot
four times by a young man who appeared to be 18 or 19 years
old. Police in riot gear surrounded Dink’s office in downtown
Istanbul. Forensic teams were combingthe pavement outside for clues to
the murder.

During the past 24 months, PEN has followed over 60 cases of writers,
journalists, and publishers who were brought before courts or faced
prosecution for their writings. Around 15 of these are currently
facing charges similar to those levied against Hrant Dink. Some recent
notable cases include that of _Orhan Pamuk_
() , the Nobel laureate charged
with insulting Turkishness for a comment published in a Swiss
newspaper in 2005 in which he was quoted as saying that `thirty
thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and
nobody but me dares to talk about it,’ Turkish prosecutors later
decided not to proceed with acourt case against him; five journalists
who were accused of `interfering=80=9D with the judiciary for their
comments on attempts to ban a conference; and publisher Abdullah
Yilmaz, who faces trial for issuing a Turkish edition of Greek writer
Mara Meimaridi’s novel The Witches of Smyrna. Scenes in that book
describing parts of the Turkish quarter of Izmir as dirty have
triggered charges of` denigrating Turkish national identity.’

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.’ PEN calls upon the Turkish government to do all
in its power to apprehend Dink’s killer.


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