Al Jazeera: Thousands attend Dink funeral

Thousands attend Dink funeral

23 Jan 07
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Mourners held identical black-and-white signs reading "We are all
Hrant Dink" [AP]

The body of Hrant Dink, the Turkish Armenian editor killed last
Friday, has been transported across Istanbul to an Armenian church,
where the writer is to be buried.

Thousands of people filed through Istanbul behind the coffin on Tuesday
and mourners at the church broke into applause at the arrival of the
hearse carrying Dink’s coffin.

Despite a request from his family not to turn the funeral into
a protest, some mourners shouted: "Shoulder to shoulder against
fascism" and "Murderer 301" – referring to the the Turkish law that
had been used to prosecute Dink and others on charges of "insulting

Earlier in the day mourners gathered outside the Agos newspaper office,
where Dink was shot, holding identical black-and-white signs reading
"We are all Hrant Dink" and "We are all Armenians".

Rakel, Dink’s widow, told thousands of mourners: "We are seeing off
our brother with a silent walk, without slogans and without asking
how a baby became a murderer."

White doves were released into the air and much of downtown Istanbul
was closed to traffic.

The funeral took place amid tight security as those following the
hearse walked the 8km distance from the Agos headquarters to the
church where Dink was to be burried.

Turkish media has criticised top politicians and armed forces chiefs
for not attending the funeral.

Cengiz Candar, a columnist in a Turkish newspaper, wrote: "If the
president, the prime minister and chief of the general staff came to
the funeral, I would be hopeful the state has given up on a lynching
culture and started to [practice] self-criticism."

"We especially belittle our minorities. We do not consider our citizens
of diverse ethnic groups as one of our own. We hate different points
of view"

Mehmet Ali Birand, Turkish commentator

Dink’s murder has stirred debate about nationalism in Turkey and has
been viewed with concern abroad, especially by the Armenian diaspora.

Police say Ogun Samast, a seventeen-year-old, has confessed to killing
Dink for "insulting" Turks and that Yasin Hayal, a friend of Samast,
has admitted that he incited Samast to kill Dink.

Samast is one of seven people allegedly in custody in connection with
Dink’s murder.

Aykut Cengiz Engin, Istanbul’s chief prosecutor, has said that
investigators have found no link between Friday’s murder and "known
ideological or separatist" illegal organisations, but added: "… we
are investigating in detail the possibility that it was carried out
by an organisation".

Article 301

Dink had been prosecuted for his views on the massacres of Armenians
by Ottoman Turks in 1915, which he called genocide.

He was given a suspended six-month jail sentence, under "Article 301",
last year for "insulting Turkishness".

Other writers and intellectuals in Turkey who have expressed the
view that Turkey should "face up" to its role in the massacres of
Armenians have come under similar criticism from nationalists.

Mehmet Ali Birand, a Turkish commentator, said: "We are all responsible
[for Dink’s murder]. We especially belittle our minorities. We do not
consider our citizens of diverse ethnic groups as one of our own. We
hate different points of view."

In recent years Turkey has undergone a number of reforms aimed at
preparing the country for EU membership.

A more liberal attitude to national minorities is one of the demands
made on Turkey by the EU.

Turkey denies claims that 1.5 million Armenians died in a genocide
at Ottoman Turkish hands, instead saying simply that large numbers
of both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks perished.

But many foreign parliaments have passed laws recognising the massacres
as genocide.

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