Armenian Reporter – 01/27/2006

ARMENIAN REPORTER
PO Box 129
Paramus, New Jersey 07652
Tel: 1-201-226-1995
Fax: 1-201-226-1660
Web:
Email: [email protected]

January 27, 2006

"Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. . . ."
— William Shakespeare, "Hamlet" (V.ii.370-371).

1. Hrant Dink buried in Istanbul

2. "Agos" offices under police protection following bomb threats

3. Eulogy by Rakel Dink: "Greater love has no man than this"

4. Obituary: Hrant Dink (1954-2007): Journalist. Humanitarian. Patriot.

5. The latest victim of Turkey’s article 30: An interview with Taner
Akçam on the assassination of Hrant Dink

6. The world sends its condolences

7. Dink’s murder elicits universal condemnation and calls for reform

8. In New York City, mourners gather in a candlelight vigil before the
United Nations

9. Southern Californians gather to mourn the loss of Hrant Dink

10. Hrant Dink’s final column: "My only weapon was my sincerity": The
dovelike unease of my inner spirit

11. Special screening of "Screamers" at California synagogue draws
youth of two backgrounds closer together

12. "Screamers" opening week Q & A with Carla Garapedian

13. Book review: "We Need to Talk about Kevin"

14. Editorial: We Are All Hrant Dink! We Are All Armenians!

************************************** *************************************

1. Hrant Dink buried in Istanbul

* Turkish-Armenian editor prosecuted for speaking of Armenian Genocide
was shot on Friday

* Turkish nationalists arrested, confess to murder

* "I have killed the infidel. I have no regrets."

* Over 100,000 mourners chant "We are all Hrant Dink"

by Vincent Lima
Editor of the "Armenian Reporter"

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Tuesday, January 23) — Hrant Dink, 52, the
outspoken editor of Istanbul’s bilingual Turkish and Armenian weekly,
"Agos," who had been murdered on January 19, 2007, in front of his
newspaper’s office, was buried today.

In an extraordinary outpouring of grief and support for a freer
Turkey, at least 100,000 people participated in a somber funeral march
that shut down much of this busy metropolis.

The murder of the prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist, who had
called persistently for the acknowledgement by Turkish society of the
Armenian Genocide, and had been prosecuted repeatedly for doing so,
was greeted with horror in Turkey and throughout the world.

(See related stories on vigils and protests in New York, Los Angeles,
Washington, and Yerevan and on the reaction in official Washington and
Europe.)

Police have arrested a 17-year-old boy from the Black Sea city of
Trabzon, Ogun Samast, who they say has confessed to carrying out the
shooting. Also in custody is Yasin Hayal, who police say has confessed
to recruiting and arming Mr. Samast. Mr. Hayal learned to make bombs
from Chechen militants at a camp in Azerbaijan and served time in jail
for the bombing of a McDonalds restaurant in Trabzon in 2004.

[Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, the day after the
funeral, traveled to Istanbul to visit Mr. Dink’s home and offer
condolences to the family of the deceased. He also held a 20-minute
meeting with Archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan, the Armenian patriarch of
Constantinople.]

The prime minister said Sunday that the quick arrest of the teenager
was "a lesson to those who want to shoot at freedoms" in Turkey. He
promised a thorough investigation. He appeared to blame the slaying on
nationalist groups, without naming them outright. He said they were
intent on turning Turkey into an insular country, cut off from the
rest of the world, The Associated Press reports. "I cannot think of
anything worse for Turkey. Those people . . . can never call
themselves patriots. Our people will never forgive them," Mr. Erdogan
said.

* "We Are All Hrant Dink"

In the hours after the assassination on Friday, up to 10,000 people
gathered in a vigil in front of the "Agos" office in Istanbul’s Sisli
district. By all accounts, the overwhelming majority of the
participants were not ethnic Armenians.

"We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenians," the mourners chanted
repeatedly in solidarity with the victim.

According to one eyewitness, some participants occasionally chanted a
slogan specifically condemning the Armenian Genocide, but the slogan
was not picked up.

The scene in front of "Agos" repeated itself over the weekend, as
prominent members of Turkish society came to pay their respects.

"We have killed a man whose ideas we could not accept," said Orhan
Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. "Certainly, we
are all responsible," he continued, "But firstly, those who declared
our brother an enemy of Turkey are responsible."

Mr. Pamuk, like Mr. Dink, was among the prominent authors charged in
the last few years with "insulting Turkishness" under Article 301 of
the revised Turkish Penal Code. The charges stemmed from each author’s
public reference to the Armenian Genocide.

Mr. Dink, the only Armenian living in Turkey among those charged, was
also the only person convicted and sentenced.

Mr. Dink was put on trial in 2002 for saying "I am not a Turk, but I
am from Turkey and an Armenian" during a conference in Urfa. He was
acquitted after three years.

Mr. Dink was taken to court again in 2006 for an article in which he
had called on Armenians to purify their blood of hatred toward Turks.
Bizarrely, this statement was found to insult "Turkishness" and he was
convicted; the conviction was upheld by the appeals court. He was
sentenced to six months in prison, but the sentence was suspended. Mr.
Dink was preparing an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Meanwhile, a new case against him was scheduled to start on March 22,
2007, on the same charges for statements he had made to Reuters about
the Armenian Genocide.

Mr. Dink wrote in "Agos" last week that his diary and the memory of
his computer was full of messages "full of rage and threats." Among
them was one that he considered significant and reported to the public
prosecutor’s office in Sisli, but got no result.

"I am like a dove," Mr. Dink wrote, "turning my head up and down, left
and right, my head quickly rotating."

He added, "Yes, I feel myself as restless as a dove, but I know that
in this country, people do not touch and disturb the doves. The doves
continue their lives in the middle of the cities."

* Nationalists charged

After the murder, Mr. Dink’s killer fled, brandishing his pistol and
shouting, "I have killed the gavur!" — using the severe
ethnic-religious slur for "infidel." A nationwide manhunt began. Ogun
Samast’s father identified his son for the police after seeing a
television broadcast of a clip from a security camera near the place
of the shooting.

Dressed in the same jean jacket, dark leather shoes, and white beret
that appeared in the video clip, Mr. Samast was arrested on a
passenger bus leaving Samsun. He was moving eastward towards his
hometown of Trabzon, but possibly trying to escape to Azerbaijan.
Police say he had with him the gun used in the killing.

Mr. Samast confessed to the killing shortly after his arrest, Samsun’s
chief prosecutor, Ahmet Gokcinar, told the state-run Anatolian news
agency. He is said to have implicated Mr. Hayal.

Mr. Hayal is suspected of masterminding an attack last summer on an
Italian priest, Father Santaro, in Trabzon. That attack also involved
a killer who was under 18 and would be tried as a juvenile if
identified and prosecuted.

Mr. Hayal has allegedly trained a handful of teenagers in Trabzon,
indoctrinating them with the idea of punishing traitors, the daily
"Hurriyet" said. The newspaper quoted Mr. Samast’s family saying that
the boy brought lots of cash from Istanbul after a trip more than a
week ago. The daily "Vatan" reported that the teenager had visited
Istanbul five times in 15 days and was accompanied by two people on
his last trip.

Apart from Mr. Samast and Mr. Hayal, police are questioning six other
suspects in connection with the killing.

Police brought Mr. Samast to the scene of the murder and conducted a
reenactment on Sunday night. Showing no remorse, Mr. Samast reportedly
told police that he first tried to meet Mr. Dink in his office but was
not allowed in by suspicious staff. He said he waited in the street
until Mr. Dink returned from a nearby bank.

"I approached him from behind and fired shot after shot," Mr. Samast
was quoted by "Vatan" as saying. Mr. Dink died instantly after being
shot three times in the head and neck.

* "Shoulder to shoulder against fascism"

At dawn on Tuesday morning, police began closing several of Istanbul’s
major thoroughfares to accommodate mourners. The arteries remained
closed through the afternoon, with hundreds of police officers in riot
gear standing at major intersections.

Approaching the "Agos" office on foot in the morning, from a distance
mourners could hear somber Armenian music. As they got closer, they
were patted down by police. Helicopters patrolled overhead, and
sharpshooters could be seen on the roofs of nearby buildings.

Standing by the hearse carrying Mr. Dink’s coffin, his wife Rakel Dink
addressed the mourners, who were holding up placards reading "We are
all Hrant Dink" in Turkish, Armenian, and Kurdish. Other signs read,
"Killer 301."

"Whoever the assassin may be, whatever his age may be, whether 17 or
27, I know that he was once upon a time a baby," Mrs. Dink said. "My
brothers and sisters, one cannot accomplish anything without first
confronting the darkness that can create an assassin from such a
baby."

Addressing her deceased husband, Mrs. Dink concluded: "You departed
from those you loved. You departed from your children, your
grandchildren. You departed from those here who came to send you off.
You departed from my embrace. You did NOT depart from your soil."

In a speech at Bilgi University last year, Mr. Dink had famously told
a largely Turkish audience, "Yes, we want this soil; not to take it
away but to lie under it!"

After Mrs. Dink spoke, the Dink family released doves.

The hearse made its way five miles to the Armenian cathedral of the
Holy Mother-of-God in Kum Kapu. The crowd of mourners grew, with
individuals as well as organized progressive groups joining along the
route. Along with "We are all Hrant Dink," the slogans included "The
government must answer," "Repeal 301," "Shoulder to shoulder against
fascism," and other slogans against the more virulent forms of Turkish
nationalism.

All along the route, crowds of bystanders clapped in solidarity with
the marchers.

At the church, Patriarch Mutafyan presided over a requiem service. The
patriarch called for more freedom of speech and more dialogue between
Turks and Armenians. Among those present for the service were Deputy
Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin and Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu.

The Turkish government, which refuses to establish diplomatic
relations with Armenia, had invited the Armenian foreign ministry to
participate. Armenian sent Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakossian
and Karen Mirzoyan, Armenia’s Istanbul-based representative to the
Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization. Archbishop Khajag
Barsamian from New York also attended the funeral.

[Mr. Kirakossian told the "Armenian Reporter" that on Wednesday he had
a meeting with Foreign Ministry officials on establishing relations
and opening the Turkish-Armenian border. He said that the Turkish side
persisted in demanding that Armenia drop the Armenian Genocide issue
from its foreign policy agenda.]

* All Dink, All The Time

Since the murder, Turkish television news and talk shows, radio, and
newspapers have focused almost exclusively on the matter, with
personal profiles of Mr. Dink, updates on the criminal investigation,
introspection about nationalism, tolerance, and democracy, and
discussions of the implications for Turkey’s relationship with the
rest of the world.

Ismet Berkan, editor-in-chief of "Radikal," one of Turkey’s main
dailies, which writes openly about the Armenian Genocide, wrote on
Saturday, "Those who created the nationalist atmosphere in Turkey fed
a monster that produced many children who are eager to believe they
need to take the matter into their own hands."

"A bullet has been fired at democracy and freedom of expression. I
condemn the traitorous hands behind this disgraceful murder," Prime
Minister Erdogan had said on television soon after Mr. Dink was
murdered. "This was an attack on our peace and stability."

Ayse Günaysu, writing in "Özgür Gündëm," a pro-Kurdish newspaper,
retorted, "Everybody who says that this was an attack on Turkey is
lying. Because this attack was made possible by Turkey itself."

Mr. Dink, born in Malatya in 1954 and raised in the Armenian
Protestant orphanage in Istanbul, had been a leader among those who
wanted Turkish-Armenians to engage Turkish society from within and
find common ground, based on truth. His decision to publish his
newspaper in Turkish as well as Armenian was part of this approach.

He often took issue with efforts in the Armenian diaspora to achieve
recognition of the Armenian Genocide by foreign governments, claiming
that they played into the hands of Turkish nationalists who resent
foreign intervention. He also had branded as "idiocy" a French bill
that would make the denial of the Armenian Genocide an offense
punishable by imprisonment.

In a message condemning the assassination, Patriarch Mutafyan
acknowledged their deep differences.

Mr. Dink’s notoriety had also led him to get calls every day from
Turkish citizens who wanted to come out as Armenians. "He was the
point person for people who were deciding no longer to keep their
Armenian identity a secret," an acquaintance of Dink’s who asked to
remain anonymous told the "Armenian Reporter."

[The prominent journalist Etyen Mahcupyan has accepted the position of
"Agos"’s new editor-in-chief. A special issue of "Agos" is available
to anyone who would like to receive it. (The bulk of the issue is in
Turkish.) To receive the issue, send your name and postal address to
[email protected] and to [email protected] .]

********************************************** *****************************

2. "Agos" offices under police protection following bomb threats

ISTANBUL, Turkey — The newspaper "Agos" reports receiving multiple
bomb threats on Wednesday and Thursday, January 25 and 26. One claimed
to be from a known terrorist organization and was reported to police.
Security was stepped up at the office of the newspaper, at the
doorstep of which founder-editor Hrant Dink was murdered on Friday,
January 19.

The security detail included two police trucks and 10 officers inside
and outside the building. The officers were not from elite forces.

Separately, the "Armenian Reporter" has learned that at least seven
prominent Turkish journalists have been assigned police bodyguards in
the wake of Mr. Dink’s assassination and the open discussions that
have followed it in the Turkish media.

According to a Reuters report, on his way to court Mr. Hayal shouted:
"Orhan Pamuk should be careful," referring to the winner of the 2006
Nobel Prize in Literature who has spoken of the Armenian Genocide.

— V.L.

******************************************** *******************************

3. Eulogy by Rakel Dink: "Greater love has no man than this"

[In her tender public eulogy for her husband, delivered over his
coffin, Rakel Dink addressed her husband as "chutak" (violin), the
nickname which only she and their granddaughter Nora used for him.

We thank Fatma Muge Gocek for her original translation of Mrs. Dink’s
address, posted at the Bianet news website. The translation has been
revised by the "Reporter" to render with greater clarity the
Scriptural citations and allusions which Mrs. Dink clearly wished to
impress.]

* Letter to My Beloved

Istanbul, January 23

I was chosen to be the spouse of my "chutak." I am here today full of
immense grief and dignity. My children, my family, you, and I are very
mournful. This silent love bestows on us some fortitude. It enables
us to experience within us a sorrowful contentment. The Bible tells
us, "Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life
for his friends" (John 15:13).

My dear friends, today we send off half of my soul, my beloved, the
father of my children, and your brother. We are going to have a march
without any slogans and without showing any disrespect to those
surrounding us. Today we are going to generate immense sound through
our silence.

Today is the beginning of the day when the [darkness of the] gorges
rise into brightness.

Whoever the assassin may be, whatever his age may be, whether 17 or 27
[years], I know that he was once upon a time a baby. My brothers and
sisters, one cannot accomplish anything without first confronting the
darkness that can create an assassin from such a baby.

My brothers and sisters: It was [Hrant’s] love for honesty, for
transparency, for his friends that brought him here. His love that
challenged fear made him great. They say "He was a great man." I ask
you, "Was he born great?" No. He too was born just like us. He did not
come from the heavens; he too was born from the earth, with a body
that rots just like ours. But what made him great was his living
spirit: his deeds, his style, the love in his eyes and in his heart.
It was what he did, the style he chose, the love in his heart, that
made him great.

A person does not become great naturally; it is through his deeds that
he becomes great. Yes, [Hrant] became great because he thought great
things and pronounced great words. You too all thought great things by
coming here. You spoke great things through your silence. You too are
great.

But do not let this suffice; do not be content with only this much.

He marked the birth of a new era in Turkey today, and you have all
been his seal. With him, the headlines, dialogues, and bans changed.
For him, there were no taboos or forbidden topics. As it says in the
Scriptures, it all sprang from his heart, and he paid a great price.
Futures for which great prices are paid can only be accomplished
through loving Hrants — through believing in Hrants; not by hatred,
by insults, or by holding one blood superior to another. This ascent
is only possible if one sees and respects the other as oneself; if one
assumes to be the other.

They separated him from the heaven of his home he had created with the
help of Jesus. They made him spread his wings to the eternal celestial
heavens. They made him spread his wings to the celestial heavens
before his eyes tired out, before his body had the chance to age,
before he could become sick, before he could spend enough time with
his loved ones.

We too shall come, my beloved. We too shall come to that matchless
heaven. Love and love alone enters there. Love and love alone — which
is superior to the speech of humans and angels, to prophecy, to
mastery of all the mysteries, to the faith that moves mountains, to
the almsgiving of all one possesses, even to giving up one’s body to
the flames — [only such love] will enter heaven. There we shall live
together, forever, in true love. A love that is not jealous of anyone.
A love that does not covet the property of anyone else. A love that
does not murder anyone. A love that does not belittle anyone. A love
that holds one’s brother and sister more dear than oneself. A love
that abandons one’s own allocation. A love that demands the rights of
one’s brother and sister.

A love that is found in the Messiah. And a love that has been poured onto us.

Who could forget what you have done, what you have said, my beloved?
What darkness could erase them? Who will ever forget what has
happened, what is happening? Could fear make them forgotten? Could
life? Could injustice? Could the temptations of the world? Or could
death itself make them forgotten, my beloved? No; no darkness could be
capable of making them forgotten, my beloved.

I too wrote you a love letter, my beloved. Its cost was dear to me
too, my beloved. I owe it to Jesus that I was capable of penning this
[letter], my beloved. Let us give Him His due, my beloved. Let us give
back to everyone their due, my beloved.

You departed from those you loved. You departed from your children,
your grandchildren. You departed from those here who came to send you
off. You departed from my embrace.

You did not depart from your soil.

******************************************* ********************************

4. Obituary: Hrant Dink (1954-2007): Journalist. Humanitarian. Patriot.

"I am an Armenian of Turkey, and a good Turkish citizen. I believe in
the republic, in fact I would like it to become stronger and more
democratic. I don’t want my country to be divided, but I want all the
citizens to be able to live fully and contribute their diversity to
this society – as a source of richness." — Hrant Dink, 2006

Hrant Dink was born in Malatya on September 15, 1954, to Serkis Dink,
a tailor from Gurun, and Gulvart Dink, from Kangal. He and his two
brothers were raised as Armenian Christians. His early childhood was
spent in the care of his grandfather, whose picture Hrant always kept
close to his heart.

At the age of seven, following his parents’ estrangement, Dink moved
to Istanbul, where he would spend the rest of his life. He was
enrolled at the Gedikpasa Armenian Orphanage, and it was there that he
met his future wife, Rakel Yagbasan, from Silopi, with whom he would
have three children.

Dink received his early education in Armenian community and boarding
schools, and in the Sisli public high school; he later went on to
study in the zoology and philosophy departments at the University of
Istanbul. After graduating he pursued a career as a journalist and
activist for Armenian civil rights in Turkey.

>From a young age Dink was aware of the taboo surrounding the subject
of Turkey’s Armenian population. "We all have an intuition about
something broken in the past. It’s in our genetic code. Each Armenian
family has losses that go back to the time when survivors were
scattered all over the world."

He described his experience growing up with both Turkish and Armenian
identity as: "I didn’t know what it meant to be Turkish or Armenian.
At school in Istanbul, I recited the Turkish credo every morning, but
I was also told I should preserve my Armenian identity. I never came
across my own name in school books – only Turkish names."

Recalling his teenaged years, Dink said he would hear "the word
‘Armenian’ used as a swearword." As an adult he would face direct
discrimination: "I saw high-court decisions that referred to Armenians
as ‘foreigners living in Turkey’. The Armenian orphanage that I worked
so hard to establish was confiscated by the state."

In the 1970s, Dink along with his wife began to manage the Tuzla
Armenian Youth Camp. During the same period, Dink was taken into
custody three times for his political views. Between 1980 and 1990,
Dink operated a bookstore along with his brothers, and stayed away
from political activism.

Despite this, he refused to leave Turkey, and instead campaigned hard
to promote better relations between the Turkish and Armenian
communities: "My identity was always other, and often belittled. I saw
again and again that I was different. Many people who were like me
were leaving this country, but I didn’t want to leave — I wanted to
stay and fight for what I thought was right."

In the mid-1990s, after Dink had spent 21 years operating the Tuzla
Armenian Youth Camp, the Turkish Ministry of Education took control of
its administration, and Dink decided to become the voice of his
community.

In 1996 he founded and became editor-in-chief and columnist of "Agos"
(the name means ploughed furrow), the Istanbul-based weekly newspaper
published in both Armenian and Turkish. It has been published
continuously except for a brief period of suspension in 2001. At its
inception, "Agos" had only 1,800 subscribers; but with Dink’s balanced
editorials, subscriptions increased to 6,000 in a short time, and
included many Turkish subscribers. "Agos" became a medium of
communication for reaching the Armenian community, and for the
Armenian community to make its voice heard. Dink also wrote for the
national dailies "Zaman" and "BirGun." He was about to start a weekly
column in the English-language "Turkish Daily News."

Under Dink’s leadership, "Agos" became the democratic, opposition
voice of Turkey, and a voice used to inform the public of the
injustices committed against the Armenian community. One of the major
aims of the newspaper was to contribute to a dialogue between the
Turkish and Armenian communities, as well as between Turkey and
Armenia.

Dink hoped his questioning would pave the way for peace between the
two peoples: "I want to write and ask how we can change this
historical conflict into peace. They don’t know how to solve the
Armenian problem," he said. He defended his challenge of established
notions: "I challenge the accepted version of history because I do not
write about things in black and white. People here are used to black
(Genocide) and white (Denial); that’s why they are astonished that
there are other shades, too."

Active in various democratic platforms and civil society
organizations, Hrant Dink emphasized the need for democratization in
Turkey and focused on the issues of free speech, minority rights,
civic rights, and issues pertaining to the Armenian community in
Turkey. He became an important peace activist – noted in international
circles – and in his public speeches, which were often intensely
emotional, he never refrained from talking about the Armenian
Genocide.

In April 2004 he gave a speech at the UN Commission on Human Rights on
freedom of expression in Turkey. He identified many continuing
problems, but his words struck a positive note: "The tendency of many
Turkish intellectuals to learn Armenian history, problems and culture,
to discuss them and to see the Armenian community as a richness for
the country, gives hope for the future by creating a sound demand,
right from the bottom to the top."

In recent years Dink was charged a number of times under the Turkish
penal code Article 301 for "denigrating Turkishness" and "insulting
Turkish identity." His cases included a trial on April 28, 2005,
concerning a speech he gave at a human rights and minorities
conference in 2002; and a conviction on October 7, 2005, to a
six-month suspended sentence for an article on the Armenian diaspora
published in "Agos": an interview he gave to Reuters on July 14, 2006,
where he spoke candidly about the events of 1915.

Of his October 2005 conviction Dink said: "I was found guilty of
racism. How can this be? All my life I have struggled against ethnic
discrimination and racism. I would never belittle Turkishness or
Armenianness. I wouldn’t allow anyone else to do it, either."

On January 10 of this year he wrote an article for "Agos" expressing
his worry at the large number of threatening letters and e-mails he
had been receiving, and his dismay at the lack of concern shown by the
Istanbul police. (That article — Dink’s final column — is reprinted
elsewhere in this issue of the "Reporter.")

Hrant Dink was killed outside the Istanbul offices of "Agos" on
January 19, by a gunman — later found to be associated with Turkish
ultranationalist militants — who fired three shots at Dink’s head
from the back, at point blank range, before fleeing the scene on foot.

He is survived by his wife, Rakel, three children, and a grandchild.
He was expecting a second grandchild.

(Combined sources, including materials on OpenDemocracy.net,
Wikipedia.org, and various news reports.)

*************************************** ************************************

5. The latest victim of Turkey’s article 30: An interview with Taner
Akçam on the assassination of Hrant Dink

by Lou Ann Matossian
Conducted on Friday, January 19, 2007
Exclusive to the "Armenian Reporter"

EDITOR’S NOTE: Taner Akçam, the Turkish intellectual and professor at
the University of Minnesota, and author recently of "A Shameful Act:
The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility,"
became the subject last week of a formal complaint under Turkey’s
Penal Code Article 301 — the same "crime" of "insulting Turkishness"
for which Hrant Dink was tried and found guilty by the Turkish
judiciary. The basis of the charge against Mr. Akçam is a column he
wrote for Dink’s paper, "Agos," wherein Akçam reacted to the complaint
against his friend Dink, and himself affirmed the reality of the
Armenian Genocide. (Mr. Akçam’s authorized English translation of that
column appeared in the January 20, 2007 issue of the Reporter.)

Hours after the news broke of the murder of Hrant Dink, Lou Ann
Matossian interviewed Mr. Akçam for the "Armenian Reporter," to
discuss his reaction to his friend’s death, the events which led to
the murder, and the implications of having been targeted himself under
the notorious Article 301.

Matossian: I am so deeply sorry. How did you first hear the news?

Taner Akçam: I learned of Hrant Dink’s murder as breaking news on the
Internet. Then I started getting calls and e-mails from Istanbul.

Matossian: What should people know about Hrant Dink?

Akçam: Hrant Dink was a Turkish citizen of Armenian descent. He was
the courageous voice of Armenians in Istanbul. He was a very close
friend.

I stayed at his home whenever I was in Istanbul. We ate, we drank, we
went fishing in his boat. He was a beloved grandfather and the father
of three children.

My usual flight out of Istanbul leaves very early in the morning. "Hey
Hrant," I would tell him, "get ready for a sleepless night." We would
sit on the couch, half sleeping, half discussing important problems,
and leave his home around 3:30 in the morning.

Matossian: What were his views on Armenian-Turkish relations?

Akçam: When I first met him, in 1991, he was very angry and frustrated
with the Armenians in Istanbul. He would say, "They are so fearful.
They hide themselves. They are afraid to come out and say, ‘Yes, I am
an Armenian.’ They think they can solve all their problems by bribing
the Turkish officials." He would say, "We have to come out from our
caves, from our hiding places, and we have to shout that we are
Armenians, we are in Istanbul, we are Turkish citizens, and we want a
democratic Turkey."

He thought of "Agos" newspaper as his child. It was a voice of this
uproar, this anger, and it became an important voice of Turkish
democracy. Just imagine, this Turkish government which is not capable
of protecting his life, this government which dragged him from one
trial to another, was carrying "Agos" newspaper in its pocket to show
the Europeans that Turkey is becoming a democracy.

Matossian: What was the response?

Akçam: Hrant was often threatened because of his stand for the truth
about Turkey’s past. A recent letter, which he showed me, threatened
his son’s life and gave an address where Hrant was to collect the
body.

He was a thorn in the side of the Turkish "deep state." His newspaper,
including columnists who openly challenged the official history, was a
visible reminder of what happened to the Armenians in 1915. That is
why Hrant personally and "Agos" were targeted by Turkish officials and
the Turkish press. He wanted the historic truth to come out.

Hrant made a point of not using the word "genocide." He was always
saying, "I know what happened to my people. A nation, a culture, was
uprooted like a tree. Nothing was left. I don’t care what you call it,
because there are no words to describe the tragedy that happened to my
nation." He always looked to a future of peace, reconciliation and
mutual understanding between the Turkish and Armenian peoples.

He really wanted reconciliation between Turks and Armenians. He wanted
Turkey to be a member of the European Union. He was the voice of
reason in Turkey. He was a thorn in the side of the "dark forces," the
deep state, who don’t want Turkey to face its history, who don’t want
Turkey to join the EU.

Hrant was a very courageous man whose life was full of struggle.
Imprisoned briefly during the 1980s, he was a leading figure of the
democracy movement in Turkey.

Matossian: When did you last see him?

Akçam: The last time I was in his office was January 5. I spent two
days in Istanbul, January 4 and 5, both of them with him. He teased me
with the "good news" of my criminal investigation. When I walked into
the "Agos" office he said, "Oh, welcome! Just in time! You have an
appointment tomorrow with the public prosecutor. You are a
troublemaker. ‘Agos’ is under investigation again, because of you."
Joking aside, he told me that the public prosecutor had opened a
criminal investigation against me, and because they couldn’t find me,
they called in his son, the editor-in-chief. "It’s better, Taner, if
you go," Hrant said, and I agreed.

We talked about the possible developments. He was really scared,
really worried. He was nervous and apprehensive. He wrote this in his
last "Agos" article. He said he felt as timid as a dove. He said that
2007 was going to be a very tough, very difficult year, especially for
"Agos" and for people like us. He said it’s now open season on
prodemocracy activists and people who want Turkey to face its history.

Matossian: What led to his assassination?

Akçam: Some months ago, Hrant Dink was invited to the office of the
governor of Istanbul Province. The lieutenant governor and a senior
official of the Turkish secret service were present. This official
threatened Hrant, saying, "We’ll make you pay for everything you’ve
been doing."

Matossian: What was the official referring to?

Akçam: Not to a specific case, but to "Agos" policies generally. For
example, "Agos" revealed that Ataturk’s stepdaughter had not been an
ethnic Turk, but a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. So Hrant was
convinced that all these attacks against "Agos" and its writers,
including me, were organized by the state in order to shut us down.

While I was in Istanbul he decided to go public about the threat. I
learned from "Radikal"’s editor-in-chief, Ismet Berkan, that Hrant did
write about the threat extensively and sent the piece to "Radikal." It
was scheduled for publication on Saturday.

Matossian: In your opinion, who killed Hrant Dink?

Akçam: Nobody should look for the murderer anyplace else but at that
meeting at the governor’s office in Istanbul. If our prime minister is
an honest man, he should give us the names of the officials who were
present at that meeting and openly threatened Hrant. Follow the
connections. They will lead to the murderer.

I’m afraid that people will try to explain away this murder as the
individual act of some young guy. It was no such thing. Hrant Dink’s
assassination is the culmination of an ongoing, organized campaign
against him and against "Agos."

According to an eyewitness, the murderer shouted, "I shot the
non-Muslim!" I believe this terminology was consciously chosen to
discredit the Islamist ruling party, as though the murder had been
committed for religious reasons. The same thing happened last year
when a judge was assassinated in an Ankara courtroom. The impression
was created of an attack by Islamist fundamentalists, but it came out
later that the crime had been organized by a group controlled by the
deep state. The members of this group were retired army officers.

It’s no accident that this time, Hrant Dink was chosen as a target. As
I wrote in my October 6, 2006 column for "Agos," he had already been
targeted because he was an Armenian. You might see this as an irony of
history. In the early 20th century, the Armenians were the engine of
the democratization movement in what is now Turkey. They were
demanding equal rights, land reforms, and social reforms, so that the
Ottoman Empire could become a democratic country.

The Ottoman rulers killed their modernizers. They eliminated their
democratic forces. This is an important reason why Turkey today still
struggles for its democracy. And today these dark forces, who fear
freedom of speech and democracy, are again attacking Turkish
intellectuals and democrats who want Turkey to be a democratic
country. It is not a coincidence that once again, they chose an
Armenian. I firmly believe that that was the reason they killed him.

Matossian: In your latest book, "A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide
and the Question of Turkish Responsibility," you argue that Turkey
must face its history in order to become a democratic country. How
does Hrant Dink’s assassination affect your work?

Akçam: This is a very open threat against me. The political circles
who assassinated Hrant are sending us a message: "This can happen to
you."

Matossian: What’s the public response in Turkey now?

Akçam: At this very moment, thousands of people are gathering at
Taksim Square in central Istanbul. They are chanting in Armenian: "We
are all Hrant Dink! We are all Armenians!" They’re singing the
folksong "Sari Gelin." That’s an Armenian song, which is loved by
everyone in Turkey. It’s also sung in Turkish.

Matossian: What do you see ahead for Turkey’s foreign relations?

Akçam: It’s too early to say anything about foreign relations.
Everything depends on the attitude of the Turkish ruling party. It
should be clear to everybody that this assassination is related to
domestic political developments. There is a power struggle going on
between the ruling Islamist party and the Turkish military and
bureaucracy. This is an election year in Turkey. The parliament will
elect the next president this May. The entire parliament is up for
re-election this fall. The Turkish military and an important segment
of the Turkish bureaucracy don’t want the current governing party to
win the presidency. There are two major factions in Turkish politics:
one is the governing party, the Islamists, and the other is the
military and bureaucracy, supported by the Social Democrats. Hrant
Dink’s assassination is a part of this power struggle.

Matossian: In what way?

Akçam: The mastermind of this assassination wants to throw Turkey into
chaos, which will force the ruling party to bow to the military and
bureaucracy. This is to ensure that parliament will not name an
Islamist as president this spring. Hrant looked like an easy target
because he had already been condemned by a large segment of the
Turkish press, by Turkish politicians, by the Turkish government, and
by the Turkish military and bureaucracy. They all bear responsibility
for his murder. They’re all shedding crocodile tears now.

I am not sure that the government will have the guts to stand up to
the military and bureaucracy. If the government has the courage to
pursue this case wherever it leads, it could be a positive development
for Turkey’s future and foreign relations. If the government stands up
to the rising tide of ultranationalism in Turkey — a movement which
has been stirred up by the military and bureaucracy — then they can
get enough support from the international community and move that much
closer to membership in the European Union. But if they cave in, their
relations with the EU will be that much worse.

Matossian: Orhan Pamuk, Elif Shafak, Hrant Dink, and you yourself have
been targeted for "insulting Turkishness" under Turkey’s Article 301.
Turkey is under international pressure to repeal this article. Is
repeal more likely now?

Akçam: It is again an open question. I am not sure whether the ruling
party has enough courage. Just a week ago, the Turkish press reported
that the ruling party was postponing reform of Article 301 until after
the fall elections because they were afraid of the ultranationalist
backlash. The government’s policy until now has been to allow the
opposition to define the terms of the debate. I’m not so sure that
even Hrant’s murder will be enough to give them the courage to change
their policy.

Matossian: Then what will it take to repeal Article 301?

Akçam: I can’t think of anything worse than Hrant’s assassination. The
international community, especially the United States, should take a
very open stand against the Turkish military and bureaucracy.

************************************ ***************************************

6. The world sends its condolences

A sampling of excerpts from messages expressing grief, outrage, pain,
. . . and hope

"Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of
light, because their deeds were evi" (John 3:19). The darkness of
evil, shrouded in the form of the young assassin, would converge on
the light of a loyalist Armenian who showed a deep conviction to his
heritage and to his people who had suffered the perils of the
unrecognized Genocide of 1915. Hrant Dink was a champion for truth and
a beacon of light for humanity using the pen as his sword. He will be
remembered as an inspirational force in the fight for recognition and
justice of the Armenian Genocide.

— Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, Primate of Australia

* * *

We are horrified. Hrant Dink was one of 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.

— Larry Siems, director, Freedom to Write and International Programs
at PEN American Center (PEN is the international association of
writers)

* * *

The murder of any human being gives us all reason to consider how we,
as human beings, must abandon violence in the hopes of resolving our
political, ethnic, and cultural differences. The loss of Hrant Dink is
not only a blow to the Armenian voices of the world, but will only
diminish the common cry of all peoples who seek to live in dignity. We
must re-commit ourselves to the principles of justice and peace in the
wake of this tragedy.

— Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of America

* * *

The paradox of Dink’s death is that he was killed in the name of a
particularly narrow notion of patriotism while he was himself a
fervent Turkish patriot. . . . While he was vitally interested in
setting the record straight on 1915, Dink was more interested in the
movement for Turkish democracy than in international recognition of
the Armenian massacres as a genocide. Democracy in Turkey, he
believed, would easily settle that historical matter. For some
Armenians in the diaspora who know Turks far less well than their
compatriots who live in Turkey, Dink’s lack of fanaticism on this
issue made him suspect, though his outspokenness in the face of
official sanction gave him a heroic aura. Last year the Norwegians
awarded him the Bjornson Academy Prize for protection of freedom of
expression. In his speech at Bilgi University last year, he told the
largely Turkish audience, "We want this land; not to take it away but
to lie under it!"

— Prof. Ronald Grigor Suny, writing in "The Nation" magazine

* * *

Last Friday, freedom of speech suffered a set back as Dink was shot
three times in the head in broad daylight outside of his office. As a
Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, Dink had gained notoriety in
Turkish society for the court cases brought against him, in which he
faced jail time for simply talking of the Armenian genocide.
Nationalists see such statements as insults to the honor of Turks.

— Read into the Congressional Record on Jan. 22, by Califonia
Congressman Ed Royce

* * *

In a sense, we are all responsible for his death. However, at the very
forefront of this responsibility are those who still defend Article
301 of the Turkish Penal Code. Those who campaigned against him, those
who portrayed this sibling of ours as an enemy of Turkey, those who
painted him as a target, they are the most responsible in this. And
then, in the end, we are all responsible.

— Noble Laureate Orhan Pamuk, in remarks made during a visit with
Hrant Dink’s family on Jan. 21

* * *

[Hrant Dink’s] untimely and tragic death has shocked us all. We and
all our people grieve the loss of yet another intellectual who has
become an innocent victim. In the strongest of terms, we condemn this
clandestine assassination which took from our people a graceful and
courageous son, who faithfully brought his service with his pen for
the love of a just, free and peaceful life and better world. We also
expect that the authorities of Turkey will uncover and punish the
individuals responsible for this crime to the fullest extent of the
law.

— His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians

* * *

Accepting the truth and respecting the human rights were prerequisite
conditions for Hrant Dink, leading people and nations to
reconciliation. In fact, one cannot kill the truth by physically
killing the messenger of it. One cannot silence the voice of justice
by neutralizing its advocate. The Armenian Cause is a cause of
justice. The sons of the one and a-half million Armenian martyrs will
continue their non-violent struggle for justice.

— His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia

* * *

Turkey has a long way to go to be at peace with itself, but a process
has begun. And it has already gone further than anyone might have
dared to dream a decade ago, thanks in good part to Hrant Dink. He did
not just preach generosity, bravery and forgiveness, he lived it.
Which is why he walked out of his office on Friday rather than hide
away as if he had anything to be ashamed of. His newspaper is called
"Agos," after the Armenian word for opening a furrow for planting. It
is for others now to stand at his plough.

— Fiachra Gibbons, writing in "The Guardian" (U.K.)

* * *

Dink was disliked by extremists because he did not back, nor did he
thrive on, sectarian divides. Instead, he struggled against such
divisions by standing firm, building bridges, and speaking out. He
always maintained that Turks, Kurds, and Armenians should be the best
of friends and neighbors. Now, in the wake of his assassination, the
assassin’s bullet should not be allowed to become an obstacle to the
resolution of the Armenian issue in Turkey today. Nor should his death
be allowed to undermine the fledgling democratic process within
Turkey. Dink’s death should be a rallying point in denouncing all
violence, building bridges across human divides, and working to
resolve the Armenian issue as a matter of common humanity.

— Ara Sarafian for the Gomidas Institute (London)

* * *

Hrant was more than the editor of a newspaper. He embodied the dreams
of an entire nation. And he dreamt big. He believed in the goodness of
mankind and its ability to bring change. He fought vigorously for
individual freedom and liberty as instruments for change and progress.
And because he believed, he spoke and wrote with passion, thus
converting many, near and far, into believers. Today, it is these
believers who will carry forward his dream to be able to freely speak
the truth, remember a shared, if painful, history, to recount the
horrors of genocide in order to reject and condemn it once and for
all, and to make new history together. Armenians and Turks together
can ensure Hrant’s desire for peace across borders, dialogue among
peoples and understanding between individuals.

Indeed, we have a responsibility to do this so that his death takes on
meaning, just as his life was so meaningful and significant for so
many. We have a further responsibility to make sure that the life we
live together, in the same region, is a life of peace and
understanding.

— Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, in a personal
condolence letter to Hrant Dink’s family

* * *

It is our opinion that, while trying to promote freedom of expression
and bring about mutual understanding between Turks and Armenians, Dink
was a victim of the political struggle between the forces of
democratization in Turkey and the forces of the "Deep State" that want
to maintain the status quo. This casts a terrible chill on the entire
human rights movement in Turkey and dims the hope of reconciliation.
Let Hrant Dink’s vision and spirit stay alive and inspire all those
who continue the struggle for universal human rights.

— The Zoryan Institute (Toronto, Canada)

* * *

The measure of the evil of the world is the ignorant, hate-filled
nationalist who killed Hrant Dink. The measure of the hope of the
world is the tens of thousands of people — Armenians, Turks, Greeks
— who filled the streets in Istanbul and stated their solidarity for
a better world. Tens of thousands took up his call for a better world.
That’s a noble vision and we should all of us make it our own.

— Daniel Fried, U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and
Eurasian affairs, in remarks delivered at St. Mary Armenian Church,
Washington, DC (transcribed by Y. Congar)

* * *

We were shocked and deeply troubled to hear that Hrant Dink was killed
in an armed attack today in Istanbul. We send our heartfelt
condolences to his family and loved ones and express our hope that the
perpetrator of this heinous crime will quickly be brought to justice.

— U.S. Embassy in Turkey

* * *

I feel deep sorrow upon the loss of life of Hrant Dink in an armed
attack at the entrance of "Agos" newspaper. I strongly condemn this
repugnant and shameful attack. Such inhuman acts will never achieve
their aim. The apprehension of the perpetrators of this attack which
has deeply wounded our nation is our immediate expectation. I wish
that we will never experience such a sorrowful event again. I extend
my condolences to the family of Hrant Dink, our press world and
nation.

–Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer

* * *

The NCC calls on the U.S. State Department to use whatever influence
possible to make sure this political assassination is fully
investigated with courage and clarity. The Turkish government must
show it will defend the rights and the lives of religious and ethnic
minorities.

— U.S. National Council of Churches general secretary Robert Edgar

* * *

The Armenian Missionary Association of America mourns with the
Armenian community in Turkey and prays that God will sustain the
sorrow of [Hrant Dink’s] wife and family. May God’s mercy and grace
prevail now and forever.

— Andrew Torigian, executive director of the Armenian Missionary
Association of America

* * *

Hrant Dink became the 1,500,001st victim of the Armenian genocide
yesterday. An educated and generous journalist and academic . . . he
tried to create a dialogue between the two nations to reach a common
narrative of the 20th century’s first holocaust. And he paid the
price: two bullets shot into his head and two into his body by an
assassin in the streets of Istanbul yesterday afternoon.

— Robert Fisk, writing in The Independent (U.K.)

****************************************** *********************************

7. Dink’s murder elicits universal condemnation and calls for reform

WASHINGTON — The assassination of Hrant Dink has generated a flurry
of statements and actions throughout the world expressing sadness over
the news, condemning the murder, and expressing hope for democratic
changes in Turkey.

The EUROPEAN UNION (EU) COUNCIL PRESIDENCY currently held by Germany’s
Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed its "high esteem" for Dink and said
that the Council "has no doubt that Turkey will steadfastly continue
along the path towards fully realizing freedom of expression."

The U.S. Undersecretary of State NICHOLAS BURNS, called the
assassination "an outrageous act of criminality, [that the U.S.]
denounces in the most serious terms." Interviewed by a Turkish TV
station, Burns said that Dink’s murder "should be denounced by all the
Turkish people," and that everyone would "want to know that the
killers are brought to justice."

In the U.S. Congress, co-chairs of the Caucus on Armenian Issues FRANK
PALLONE, JR. (D-N.J.) and JOE KNOLLENBERG (R-Mich.) qualified the
murder as a "terrible hate crime," expressing concern that the
"Turkish Government’s continued persecution of citizens who dare speak
truth about the Armenian Genocide could have helped provoke this
violent crime."

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-Calif.) initiated a letter to the Turkish Prime
Minister Erdogan, condemning the murder and urging the Turkish
government "to repeal the odious law making it a crime to ‘insult
Turkishness’ [as] a fitting tribute to Mr. Dink and to the other
courageous Turkish writers and intellectuals who believe that their
country’s future can only be secured by accepting its past." As of
press time, 21 Congressmen, including the chairman of the House
Foreign Relations Committee Tom Lantos, had co-signed the letter.

REP. JOSEPH CROWLEY (D-N.Y.) is due to introduce a House Resolution
condemning the assassination. The draft resolution, so far
co-sponsored by 13 other Congressmen, urges Turkey "to take
appropriate action to protect the freedom of speech in Turkey by
repealing Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and by opposing
individuals in Turkey who espouse intolerance, intimidation, and
violence against individuals who exercise their right of freedom of
speech." A similar resolution is expected to be introduced in the
Senate as well.

* Reaction from Armenian-Americans

Also in Washington, about 100 Armenian activists braved a snowstorm to
stand in a vigil outside the Turkish Embassy on January 21 organized
by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and affiliated
entities. ARF organized similar gatherings outside the Turkish
Consulate in Los Angeles and the Mission to the United Nations in New
York.

Armenian Churches around the nation held memorial services for Dink.

In their statements, leaders of Armenian-American organization argued
that the Turkish government shares in the responsibility for the
murder.

ROSS VARTIAN, executive director of the U.S.-Armenia Public Affairs
Committee (USAPAC), said that "the Turkish government’s denial of the
Armenian Genocide and prosecution of those who dare speak the truth
breeds an environment of extreme intolerance. The government is
ultimately responsible for this murder — this literal killing of
truth."

"Dink’s murder is tragic proof that the Turkish government – through
its campaign of denial, threats and intimidation against the
recognition of the Armenian Genocide – continues to fuel the same
hatred and intolerance that initially led to this crime against
humanity," said ARAM HAMPARIAN, the executive director of the Armenian
National Committee of America (ANCA).

ANCA also argued that "the Turkish government can continue denying the
Armenian Genocide – against all evidence – in great measure due to the
complicity of the U.S. Administration, which, at Turkey’s urging,
works against" Genocide affirmation. ANCA urged letters of protest to
be sent to President Bush.

The Armenian Assembly of America’s executive director BRYAN ARDOUNY
said that Dink is "the latest victim of Turkey’s outrageous campaign
of denial and intolerance." The Assembly called on the United States
"as a world leader, to end the vicious cycle of genocide denial in
Turkey by adopting a congressional resolution reaffirming this fact of
world history."

* Reaction from Colleagues

"Hrant Dink was a friend and colleague who will be dearly missed by
everyone who had known him," YASEMIN CONGAR, the Washington Bureau
chief of Istanbul’s Milliyet told the Armenian Reporter. "Dink was
prosecuted, convicted, and continuously threatened for exercising his
freedom of speech. And now he paid the ultimate price. It is a
terrible day for freedom of speech and freedom of press in Turkey."

"I hope this will be an eye-opener for those who use or provoke the
intolerant discourse of extreme nationalism in the Turkish public
sphere," Ms. Congar continued. "It’s time for all responsible parties
in Turkey to help build an environment of tolerance and freedom so
that we can discuss our country’s history without fear of prosecution
and punishment."

The New York-based HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH said that "Dink’s killing robs
Turkey of an important voice of conscience on the need for Turkey to
come to terms with its past." America’s largest human rights
organization noted that "in 2006 alone, more than 50 individuals were
indicted for statements or speeches that questioned state policy on
controversial topics … These repeated prosecutions have created an
environment of intolerance and hostility, which increases the risk
that such violent attacks will occur."

The London-based AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL deplored Dink’s murder, noting
that "in Turkey there are still a number of harsh laws which endorse
the suppression of freedom of speech. These laws, coupled with the
persisting official statements by senior officials condemning critical
debate and dissenting opinion, create an atmosphere in which violent
attacks can take place."

In a statement condemning the murder, the New York-based COMMITTEE TO
PROTECT JOURNALISTS noted, "In the last 15 years, 18 Turkish
journalists have been killed for their work, many of them murdered,
making [Turkey] the eighth deadliest country in the world for
journalists."

The Paris-based REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS (RSF) urged a thorough
investigation of the murder, and said that "the Turkish authorities
must make it clear they are determined to find and punish any
instigators, and to identify all those who may have had a role in this
tragedy." RSF also supported the call issued by the Coordinating
Council of Armenian Organizations in France (CCAF) for a demonstration
on January 20 outside the Turkish embassy in Paris. — E.S.

******************************************** *******************************

8. In New York City, mourners gather in a candlelight vigil before the
United Nations

by Florence Avakian
Special to the "Armenian Reporter"

NEW YORK — Hundreds of people congregated across from the United
Nations building, outside the Turkish Mission to the UN, on a cold
Tuesday evening, January 23, 2007, to honor the memory of assassinated
Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. The people, with pictures of Dink
pinned to their coats, chanted, "We are all Hrant Dink. We are all
Armenians," a phrase that has resonated throughout the world. Holding
flowers, placards, American and Armenian flags, and candles which lit
the frigid darkness, they listened to a number of clerical and
community leaders, extolling the rare virtues of this courageous
journalist.

The high point of the vigil was a requiem service conducted by
Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, assisted
by the St. Vartanantz Church pastor Fr. Hovnan Bozoyan. Representing
the Eastern Diocese were the St. Thomas Church pastor Fr. Papken
Anoushian, the Union City Holy Cross Church pastor Fr. Vazken Karayan,
and Dean of St. Vartan Cathedral Fr. Mardiros Chevian.

Among the speakers were Dr. Hrand Markarian, Antranig Kasbarian,
Guardian Angels leader Curtis Sliwa, and Kumru Toktamis, a Turkish
sociologist at Pratt Institute.

Organized by the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of New York and New
Jersey, the vigil drew participants from many Armenian-American
organizations, including the St. Vartanantz Church, St. Thomas Church,
the St. Nersess Seminary, the Hovnanian School, the Hamaskayin and
Tekeyan cultural associations, the Knights of Vartan, the ADL, the
Armenian Hye Doun, and the Armenian Youth Club.

Among media in attendance were The Associated Press, and a contingent
of Turkish reporters from "Hurriyet," Turkish television, The "Turkish
Times," and the Anatolian News Agency.

Dogan Uluc, the United Nations Bureau Chief of "Hurriyet," Turkey’s
largest daily newspaper, stated to this writer that Hrant Dink was "an
important person in the Turkish press publishing with great
difficulties." He called the assassination a "treacherous, disgusting,
and tragic murder which most Turkish people did not support. There is
no single motive to justify this heinous act. It is a great loss for
the Turkish people. Hrant Dink is one of us. I hope the Turkish
government goes deep down and finds the conspirators."

* An emotional tribute

An extremely emotional tribute came as the people, before leaving,
placed their candles and flowers on a makeshift altar with a large
photo of Dink placed above the Armenian flag. Holding her flower, and
looking intently at the photo, 13-year-old Christy Aksay from New
Jersey burst into an acappella "Lretz amber" ("The Clouds Are
Silent"), bringing many to tears. She was present with her mother,
Armine Aksay, and grandmother Filos Gumushian who originally hail from
Istanbul.

Marring the profound significance of the event were 20 Turkish
protesters across the street, carrying Turkish flags and insulting
Turkish signs, who shouted obscenities throughout the two hours of the
vigil. They danced and cursed loudly, even during the prayers, doing
their utmost to drown out the speakers. At one point, two protestors,
who reportedly had a previous score to settle, resorted to fisticuffs,
and were handcuffed and led away by the police who were there in full
force. At times, the Armenians, some originally from Turkey who had
experienced Turkish oppression, answered the taunts, waving flags and
photos of Hrant Dink.

Throughout the vigil, many in the large crowd which stretched 10 deep
from First to Second Avenues on 46th Street, held signs reading "We
are all Hrant Dink"; "Genocide denial murdered Hrant Dink"; "Hrant
Dink, victim of Turkish denialism"; "End denial of Turkish genocide."

In the crowd were people of all ages, with a large contingent of
youth. Ten-year old Brenda Bekarogullari, who dances in the Akhtamar
Dance Group, said that as a "proud Armenian, I am here to support the
Armenian people." Lisa Garibian, a 23-year-old from Englewood Cliffs,
N.J., called Dink "a brave man, brave enough to speak in a country
which persecuted him for his beliefs. He spoke for all Armenians," she
declared without hesitation.

Hailing from another generation, Vilma Nakashian, who had come from
Connecticut, related that she was there "Because the Turkish
government is obliterating all Armenian Christian churches up to the
15th century. We have lost so much," she said sadly.

Karnik Garibian related that Dink was "the only Armenian [in Turkey]
brave enough to talk about the Genocide. He was the first on Turkish
television and soil, talking openly, knowing full well that his life
was always in danger." And Hamasasp Baboumian, with his voice choking
with anger, declared, "I want to know who will be the next person they
will kill."

* Youth will continue Hrant Dink’s message

Community activist Dr. Hrand Markarian, in a voice shaking with
emotion, addressed the large crowd above the booing of the Turks,
declaring, "We are all Armenians. We are all Hrant Dink. We grieve for
a brave man. The Turkish government is responsible for Hrant Dink’s
murder, and the denial of the Armenian Genocide. That’s why he was
killed. But never forget, the youth here will continue Hrant Dink’s
bravery and message."

Guardian Angels leader Curtis Sliwa, who has spoken at several April
24 commemorations at Times Square, in an impassioned message, shouted
above the continuing Turkish noise, "They will have to seek
forgiveness for their heinous crimes. If not, they will be removed
from the civilized world. They will have to tell their children of
this atrocity. The execution of Hrant Dink, who projected freedom of
speech, cannot go unanswered. Hrant Dink became the 1,500,001 victim
of the Armenian Genocide! He was assassinated while the Turkish
government watched. They have given the green light to execute
truth-seekers and tellers."

ANC official Antranig Kasbarian, in his strong message, pointed out
that "the murder was directed by those who want to kill
democratization. Hrant Dink was not an extremist. He was the voice of
moderation in the Turkish society. He was active in fostering dialogue
between Armenians and Turks." Declaring that "Turkey is not ready to
join the countries of the civilized world," he stated with emphasis,
"Turkey must pay for its sins.

Turkish academic Kumru Taktamis, with obvious emotion declared "We are
all Armenians" – a statement which drew huge cheers. She then read a
poem she had composed to Hrant Dink’s memory.

"We lost a solid bridge. / But let us not lose our ways. / We lost a
right hand, / But let us not lose our embrace.

"We lost a dove. / We are hurt. / We are bleeding.

"The murdered dove that united our souls is turning into a phoenix. /
Tomorrow it is rising. / Yes indeed, tomorrow it is rising."

At the conclusion of the inspirational and well-organized vigil, the
crowd spontaneously sang the Armenian National anthem, after
reverently voicing Hayr Mer — the Lord’s Prayer. As people slowly
departed, some still carrying their lighted candles, a voice was heard
saying sadly, "Hrant Dink was martyred for all Armenians."

******************************** *******************************************

9. Southern Californians gather to mourn the loss of Hrant Dink

* A vigil and church service attract hundreds of people

LOS ANGELES — On January 23, 2007, more than 300 people gathered
outside the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles for a vigil in honor of
Hrant Dink. The Tuesday-night gathering was organized by the Armenian
Youth Federation and received mainstream media coverage from local
television stations and newspapers.

Before the keynote address, Fr. Khoren Habeshian performed a short
requiem service and led the participants in singing the hymn "Der
Vorghormya" (Lord, have mercy). Participants, holding red carnations
and candles, stood near photos of Dink — one showing the gruesome
scene of the killing.

"Once more we are gathered outside the Turkish Embassy to raise our
voices in opposition to a crime committed against humanity, and to
keep alive the memory of Hrant Dink – a flag-bearer of free thinking,
a freedom-loving writer," said keynote speaker Hovig Saliba, Western
Region Central Committee member of the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation.

Saliba said Hrant Dink’s assassination was a crime against all
humanity, and against the Turkish people, because, Saliba said, now
the Turkish people are deprived of a true journalistic and
humanitarian presence.

"Hrant Dink’s free-thinking and bridge-building was greeted with
bullets," said Saliba. "His assassination sheds light on Turkey’s
past, and against the crimes it commits against its people until
today. We hope that the killer is tried and convicted soon. But, we
must keep in mind that the true criminal continues to be Turkey and
its denial of its blood-soaked past. Turkey is liable for Hrant Dink’s
assassination, and must give answers to Armenia and the world for this
crime."

AYF Central Executive chairman Vrej Harutunian addressed the crowd and
said that the time to be silent, both at the vigil and in our everyday
lives, had come to an end. "We must continue sending the message that
the truth will not be silent," he said, calling on the crowd to loudly
chant, "We are Hrant Dink." The crowd continued to chant for several
minutes.

Mary Ashjian, a 22-year-old student at California State University
Long Beach and a member of the AYF Central Executive, said Dink’s
murder has been a total shock. "I still can’t believe that it
happened," she said. "He was a man of truth, and where they couldn’t
shut him up with their laws, they found the ultimate means to do so.
It is a tragedy, and we want the world to know that we won’t stand
idly by and watch this happen to our people."

A few days earlier, on Sunday, hundreds also gathered at Glendale’s
St. Mary Church for a joint requiem service. The service was presided
over by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and Archbishop Moushegh
Mardirossian, with other clergy from the Western Diocese and Western
Prelacy attending the service. Also present were leaders from the
three Armenian political parties, California Assemblyman Paul
Krekorian, Glendale City Clerk Ardashes Kassakhian and Glendale City
Council member Rafi Manoukian.

************************************** *************************************

10. Hrant Dink’s final column: "My only weapon was my sincerity": The
dovelike unease of my inner spirit

by Hrant Dink
"Agos," January 10, 2007
(Translated by F.M. Gocek)

I did not at first feel troubled about the investigation that was
filed against me by the Sisli public prosecutor’s office with the
accusation of "insulting Turkishness."

This was not the first time. I had been familiar to the accusation
because of a similar lawsuit I had filed against me in Urfa. I was
being tried in Urfa with the accusation of "denigrating Turkishness"
over the past three years for having stated in a talk I gave at a
conference there in 2002: "I was not a Turk, but from Turkey and an
Armenian."

And I was even unaware about how the lawsuit was proceeding. I was not
at all interested. My lawyer friends in Urfa were attending the
hearings in my absence.

I was even quite nonchalant when I went and gave my deposition to the
Sisli public prosecutor. I ultimately had complete trust in what my
intentions had been and what I had written. Once the prosecutor [had
the chance] to evaluated not that single sentence from my editorial in
isolation – which made no sense by itself – but the text as a whole,
he would understand with great ease that I had no intention to
"denigrate Turkishness," and this comedy would come to an end.

I was certain that a lawsuit would not be filed at the end of the
investigation. I was sure of myself. But surprise! A lawsuit was
filed.

But I still did not lose my optimism.

So much so that at a television show that I joined live, I even told
the lawyer [Kemal] Kerincsiz who was accusing me "that he should not
get his hopes too high, that I was not going to be smacked with any
sentence from this lawsuit, and that I would leave this country if I
received a sentence." I was sure of myself because I truly had not had
in my article any premeditation or intention – not even a single iota
– to denigrate Turkishness. Those who read the entirety of my
collection of articles would understand this very clearly.

As a matter of fact, the report prepared by the three faculty members
from Istanbul University who had been appointed by the court as
experts stated exactly that. There was no reason for me to be
troubled, there would certainly be a return from the wrongful path [of
the lawsuit] at one stage of the proceedings or the other.

So I kept asking for patience.

But there was no such return.

The prosecutor asked for a sentence in spite of the expert report. The
judge then sentenced me to six months in prison.

When I first heard about my sentence, I found myself under the bitter
pressure of the hopes I had nurtured all along the process of the
lawsuit. I was bewildered. My disappointment and rebellion were at
their pinnacle.

I had resisted for days and months, saying, "Just you wait for this
decision to come out, and once I am acquitted, then you will all be so
repentant about all that you have said and written."

In covering every hearing of the lawsuit, the newspaper items,
editorials, and television programs all referred to how I had said
that "the blood of the Turk is poisonous." Each and every time, they
were adding to my fame as "the enemy of the Turk." At the halls of the
court, the fascists physically attacked me with racist curses.

They bombarded me with insults on their placards. The threats reaching
hundreds that kept hailing for months through phones, e-mail and
letters kept increasing each time.

And I persevered through all this with patience, awaiting the decision
for acquittal. Once the legal decision was announced, the truth was
going to prevail and all these people would be ashamed of what they
had done.

My only weapon was my sincerity. But here the decision was out and all
my hopes were crushed. From then on, I was in the most distressed
situation that a person could possibly be in.

The judge had made a decision in the name of the "Turkish nation" and
had it legally registered that I had "denigrated Turkishness." I could
have persevered through anything except this.

According to my understanding, racism was the denigration by anyone of
a person they lived alongside on the basis of any difference, ethnic
or religious, and there was not any way in which this could ever be
forgiven.

Well, it was in this psychological state that I made the following
declaration to the members of the media and friends who were at my
doorstep trying to confirm "as to whether I would leave this country
as I had indicated earlier":

"I shall consult with my lawyers. I will appeal at the supreme court
of appeal and will even go to the European Court of Human Rights if
necessary. If I am not cleared through any one of these processes,
then I shall leave my country. Because according to my opinion,
someone who has been sentenced with such a crime does not have the
right to live alongside the citizens whom he has denigrated."

As I voiced this opinion, I was emotional as always. My only weapon
was my sincerity.

* Dark Humor

But it so happens that the deep force that was trying to single me out
and make me an open target in the eyes of the people of Turkey found
something wrong with this press release of mine as well, and this time
filed a lawsuit against me for attempting to influence the court. The
entire Turkish media had been given my declaration, but what got their
attention was what was written in "Agos" alone. And it so transpired
that the legally responsible parties in the "Agos" newspaper and I
started to be tried this time around for attempting to influence the
court. This must be what people call "dark humor."

As I am the accused, who has the right more than the accused to try to
influence the judiciary? But look at this humorous situation, that the
accused is this time tried for trying to influence the judiciary.

* "In the Name of the Turkish State"

I have to confess that I had more than lost my trust in the concept of
"Law" and the "System of Justice" in Turkey.

How could I have not? Had these prosecutors, these judges, not been
educated in the university, graduated from faculties of law? Weren’t
they supposed to have the capacity to comprehend [and interpret] what
they read?

But it so transpires that the judiciary in this country, as also
expressed without compunction by many a statesman and politician, is
not independent.

The judiciary does not protect the rights of the citizen, but instead the State.

The judiciary is not there for the citizen, but under the control of the State.

As a matter of fact I was absolutely sure that, even though it was
stated that the decision in my case was reached "in the name of the
Turkish nation," it was a decision clearly not made "on behalf of the
Turkish nation" but rather "on behalf of the Turkish state." As a
consequence, my lawyers were going to appeal to the Supreme Court of
Appeals; but what could guarantee that the deep forces that had
decided to put me in my place would not be influential there as well?

And was it the case that the Supreme Court of Appeals always reached
right decisions? Wasn’t it the same Supreme Court of Appeal that had
signed onto the unjust decision that stripped minority foundations of
their properties? [And had done so] in spite of the attempts of the
Chief Public Prosecutor. Yet we did appeal – and what did it get us?
Just like the report of the experts, the Chief Public Prosecutor of
the Supreme Court of Appeals stated that there was no evidence of
crime, and asked for my acquittal, but the Supreme Court of Appeals
still found me guilty. The Chief Public Prosecutor of the Supreme
Court of Appeals was just as certain about what he had read and
understood as I had been about what I had written, so he objected to
the decision and took the lawsuit to the General Council.

But what can I say, that great force which had decided once and for
all to put me in my place and had made itself felt at every stage of
my lawsuit – through processes I would not even know about – was
present there once again, behind the scenes. And as a consequence, it
was declared by majority vote at General Council as well that I had
denigrated Turkishness.

* Like a Dove

This much is crystal clear: that those who tried to single me out,
render me weak and defenseless, succeeded by their own measures. With
wrongful and polluted knowledge they oozed into society, they managed
to form a significant segment of the population whose numbers cannot
be easily dismissed, who view Hrant Dink as someone "denigrating
Turkishness."

The diary and memory of my computer are filled with angry, threatening
lines sent by citizens from this particular sector.

(Let me note at this juncture that even though one of these letters
was sent from [the neighboring city of] Bursa and that I had found it
rather disturbing because of the proximity of the danger it
represented and [therefore] turned the threatening letter over to the
Sisli prosecutor’s office, I have not been able to get a result until
this day.)

How real or unreal are these threats? To be honest, it is of course
impossible for me to know for certain. What is truly threatening and
unbearable for me is the psychological torture I personally place
myself in. "Now what are these people thinking about me?" is the
question that really bugs me. It is unfortunate that I am now better
known than I once was, and I feel much more the people throwing me
that glance of "Oh, look, isn’t he that Armenian guy?"

And I reflexively start torturing myself. One aspect of this torture
is curiosity, the other unease. One aspect is attention, the other
apprehension.

I am just like a dove…

Obsessed just as much with what goes on my left, right, front, back.

My head is just as mobile. And just fast enough to turn right away.

* And here is the cost for you

What did the Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül state? The Justice Minister
Cemil Çiçek? "Come on, there is nothing to exaggerate about [Article
301]. Is there anyone who has actually been tried and imprisoned
because of it?" As if the only cost one paid was imprisonment…

Here is a cost for you… Here is a cost: Do you know, oh ministers,
what kind of a cost it is to imprison a human being in the
apprehensiveness of a dove? Do you know? Have you never watched a
dove?

* What they call "life-or-death"

What I have lived through has not been an easy process. Neither is
what we have lived through as a family. There were moments when I
seriously thought about leaving the country and moving far away. And
especially when the threats started to involve those close to me. At
that point, I always remained helpless. That must be what they call
"Life-or-Death." I could have resisted out of my own will – but I did
not have the right to put into danger the life of anyone who was close
to me. I could have been my own hero – but I did not have the right to
be brave by placing any other person – let alone someone close to me –
in danger. During such helpless times, I gathered my family, my
children together, and sought refuge in them, and received the
greatest support from them. They trusted in me.

Wherever I would be, they would be there as well. If I said "Let’s
go," they would go; if I said "Let’s stay," they would stay.

* To stay and resist

Okay, but if we went, where would we go? To the Armenian Republic? How
long would someone like me – who could not stand injustices – put up
with the injustices there? Would not I get into even deeper trouble
there?

To go and live in the European countries was not at all the thing for
me. After all, I am such a person that if I travel to the West for
three days, I miss my country on the fourth and start writhing in
boredom saying, "Let this be over so I can go back" – so what would I
end up doing there? The comfort there would have gotten to me!

Leaving "boiling hells" for "ready-made heavens" was not at all right
for my personality make-up. We were people who volunteered to
transform the hells we lived in into heavens. To stay and live in
Turkey was necessary, because we truly desired it and [had to do so]
out of respect for the thousands of friends in Turkey who kept up a
struggle for democracy and who supported us. We were going to stay and
we were going to resist.

If we were forced to leave one day, however… We would set out just as
in 1915 – like our ancestors – without knowing where we were going.
Walking the roads they walked through … feeling their ordeal,
experiencing their pain. With such a reproach we would leave our
homeland. And we would go where our feet took us – but not our hearts.

* Apprehensive and free

I wish that we will never ever have to experience such a departure. We
have far too many reasons – and hope – not to experience it, anyhow.

Now I am applying to the European Court of Human Rights. How long this
lawsuit will last, I do not know. The fact that I do know and that
somewhat puts me at ease is that I will be living in Turkey at least
until the lawsuit is finalized. If the court decides in my favor, I
will undoubtedly become very happy, and it will mean that I will never
have to leave my country.

>From my own vantage point, 2007 will probably be an even more
difficult year. The trials will continue; new ones will commence. Who
knows what kinds of additional injustices I shall have to confront?
While all these occur, I will consider this one truth my only
security: Yes, I may perceive myself in the spiritual unease of a
dove; but I do know that in this country, people do not touch doves.
Doves live their lives all the way, deep in the midst of the city –
even amidst the human throngs.

Yes, somewhat apprehensive. But just as much free.

******************************************* ********************************

11. Special screening of "Screamers" at California synagogue draws
youth of two backgrounds closer together

by Jenny Kiljian
Special to the "Armenian Reporter"

ENCINO, Calif. — As the crowd of more than 700 filed into the main
sanctuary of Valley Beth Shalom synagogue, the boisterous junior high
students who clambered into the front rows were not easily quieted.

Just before the 7 p.m. screening of the acclaimed film "Screamers," a
group of Jewish and Armenian youth had engaged in an unprecedented,
informal dialogue during a pizza dinner, and their energy was apparent
as they shouted gleeful hellos to one another across the room. "Which
one of the System guys is going to be here?" one girl asked, while a
young boy questioned his mother about whether there would be time to
get an autograph from that rock star-bassist Shavo Odadjian.

It was not until the horrific images of the Armenian Genocide, Jewish
Holocaust, and Rwandan genocide were on the movie screen that they
were pacified, gasping and whispering, "That is so sad."

That is the lure of this powerful, provocative film.

By undergirding the somber subject of genocide with the music of
System of a Down, the filmmakers magnetize these young people and
teach them about facts that are typically excluded from their history
curricula.

"Can we teach young people something true, so genocide won’t continue
into their generation?" asked Rabbi Ed Feinstein, who noted that this
was the first time to his knowledge that Armenian and Jewish youth had
gathered together at the synagogue.

When the movie concluded and the lights were turned on, it seemed the
kids’ minds had once again turned to System of a Down, as many of them
peered anxiously around the sanctuary to see from which door Odadjian
would be entering to participate in the panel discussion.

"Screamers" producer Carla Garapedian, Armenian newspaper publisher
Harut Sassounian, Jewish World Watch founder Rabbi Harold Schulweis,
and Rabbi Feinstein were already on stage when he bounded up the
steps, casually dressed in military fatigues, a black sweater, and
sneakers. Odadjian was met with a vociferous standing ovation from the
audience, to which he responded with a humble bow.

Leading the discussion was Rabbi Feinstein, who thanked Garapedian
"for opening our eyes."

He first asked Odadjian what message he wanted to send with the film.
Odadjian explained that he is but one member of the band, each of whom
have different messages and causes for which they want to raise
awareness. "But this one is special," said Odadjian. "It’s not only
political, it’s also personal," explaining that he has no family tree
to speak of, and does not know how old his grandparents are because of
the Armenian Genocide.

Yet, the tall, goateed rocker remains undeterred. "It’s not recognized
by most of the world. But, I will not rest until all the souls are at
rest because of recognition." He encouraged the young people in the
audience to continue their efforts and get involved in Genocide
recognition-related activities.

Garapedian recounted her first encounter with System of a Down bassist
Odadjian, singer Serj Tankian, drummer John Dolmayan, and guitarist
Daron Malakian, at the 2004 Souls concert in Los Angeles, where she
was staffing the Armenian Film Foundation booth outside of the venue.
She said she didn’t know much about them at the time, nor could she
hear their music well, considering her vantage point.

Yet, when several fans approached Garapedian at the booth to say they
already knew about the Armenian Genocide because of System of a Down,
she realized that the heavy metal quartet "used their music, talent
and passion to reach out in a different way – not preaching through
politics, but accessing those powerful emotions through art and
music." She said she was grateful to the band for letting her and the
filmmakers into their world in order to tell such an important story.

Rabbi Feinstein asked Harut Sassounian – the dynamic columnist,
publisher of The California Courier, and president of the United
Armenian Fund – what the Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide
signifies to him.

"The Armenian Genocide is something we live with every day. It is a
scar in our hearts and minds, and the denial is killing us all over
again," he said. "Even Turks cannot be complete without recognition."
Sassounian described the global campaign to ensure that the Armenian
Genocide is recognized, including the passing of resolutions;
production of films; writing of articles; and hosting of exhibits,
lectures, rallies and demonstrations. "We do everything possible to
not forget," he said.

"This is not just an Armenian question, or an Armenian problem. It is
a problem for humanity and for the conscience of every single
individual," said Rabbi Harold Schulweis, who founded Jewish World
Watch in October of 2004, as a response to the horrors perpetrated by
human beings against others. According to the organization’s website,
Schulweis was moved to action because of the Holocaust and the many
post-Holocaust genocides that he witnessed. Yet, he is equally
sensitive to the pre-Holocaust genocide: the Armenian Genocide.

Schulweis encouraged the audience to attend an event on April 27,
2007, at Valley Beth Shalom that will pay tribute to the first
genocide of the 20th century, while also standing in solidarity with
the victims of the first genocide of the 21st century, the Darfur
genocide. "You are not alone," he assured the Armenian contingent in
the audience. "We must write this new chapter to restore memory,
because with amnesia we die, and we must not die."

When asked whether kids are plagued more by apathy than by amnesia,
Odadjian said he doesn’t believe that kids don’t care, and that they
are not naive. He recalled his own immersion into the Armenian culture
and history during his 10-year tenure at Rose and Alex Pilibos
Armenian School in Hollywood. "We’ve cracked that mold," said
Odadjian, as he regaled the audience with the story of an 11-year-old
boy who approached the band after winning a radio contest in Texas.
The band signed autographs on an unlikely target: the boy’s history
paper on the Armenian Genocide, which had garnered him an "A+" on a
subject not even included in his school’s curriculum. It was System’s
music that had inspired him to conduct the research and, said
Odadjian, "it feels good to be that rocker."

For Garapedian, whose film featured nearly centenarian Armenian
Genocide survivors, the passing of an Armenian Genocide resolution in
Congress this year would be a step toward healing their wounds. She
believes there’s a strong chance, especially now that many on Capitol
Hill watched the film. "They had never seen the theater so full. The
staffers came because of the music – even in Congress, the music is
influencing people," she said. "The universal message – to kids, to
everyone – is that you can make a difference." But Garapedian’s scope,
or that of System of a Down, does not stop with Armenians. She urged
the audience to remember the plight of the people in Sudan. "We have
to connect with what’s going on in Darfur, because they are us."

* A Modern-Day Martyr

Many in the audience may not have realized it, but they had heard the
words of a modern-day martyr during the film. Just four days before
this landmark screening, Hrant Dink was assassinated in Istanbul for
speaking the truth that he hoped would build bridges between the Turks
and Armenians – the same thoughts that he had articulated during his
interview in "Screamers."

Sassounian recalled how his friend had tried to reform Turkey from the
inside, by educating the Turkish public. Yet, the response in the wake
of his death "portends of good things," said Sassounian, describing
how tens of thousands of people in Turkey had been marching in the
streets screaming, "We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenian."

Odadjian reminded the audience that neither he nor the panel were
speaking against the Turkish people. "We’re not anti-Turk. We are
anti-lies, and pro-truth," he said. "We are the future."

In closing, Rabbi Feinstein asked the audience to stand in a moment of
silence in memory of Dink. Fifteen-year-old David Shamash, a member of
the United Synagogue Youth (USY) of Valley Beth Shalom, said that the
film was "brilliantly made and extremely touching," and that it taught
him a lot and "heightened what he knew already." Shamash said he knew
about the Armenian Genocide through his Armenian friends at school,
"but not much." He said he had studied the Jewish Holocaust, but
didn’t know of its connections with the Armenian Genocide. Shamash
said he admires System of a Down, and has always known that they had a
message with their music that other bands might lack. Of the dialogue
that the USY shared with the Armenian youth, Shamash said "we both
realized that we’re not different. We’re all kids, and all human
beings, and we all have a cause to stick together for."

This writer asked Rabbi Feinstein to comment on the current position
of the state of Israel in regards to the Armenian Genocide, because a
banner outside of the synagogue declares Valley Beth Shalom’s unity
with Israel. His answer: "They’re wrong. A lot of things that the
Israeli government does aren’t right." Feinstein said that he loves
Israel, but as a responsible member of the community he has the right
to criticize even that which he loves. "The fact that they haven’t
recognized the Armenian Genocide is a travesty," he said,
acknowledging that "Israel is a fearful country, which makes a lot of
its decisions out of fear, not justice."

Two congregants from Valley Beth Shalom spoke to this correspondent on
the condition of anonymity. The couple said that movie was "extremely
powerful," and that they "hope the message of the movie and music that
was played would bring the message to all young people everywhere
about the purpose of life and how we have to do everything possible to
maintain it, live with each other, and not destroy each other."

* * *

Jenny Kiljian is a former editor of "The Armenian Weekly."

*********************************** ****************************************

12. "Screamers" opening week Q & A with Carla Garapedian

Carla Garapedian’s "Screamers" documentary featuring System of a Down
opens in New York City at the Empire 25 Theater in Times Square, and
at the Rossmore 25 in Arlington, Va., outside of Washington, D.C., on
January 26. The film opens in Boston and Chicago on February 9. The
"Armenian Reporter"’s Paul Chaderjian asked Ms. Garapedian to comment
on the opening, and on the events of the past week.

Paul Chaderjian: Tell us about the reaction you’ve received since the
film’s premiere a few weeks ago.

Garapedian: I want to thank all the people I have met in the
community, who have given me their comments and feedback. You have all
been a great support, and I am grateful for your warm embrace. It is
much appreciated.

This has been a long road, a marathon, and the support matters to me.
There is an old Chinese saying: "We are living in interesting times."
I believe change is in the air. We don’t know where it will all lead –
in the U.S., Turkey, Europe, Darfur, Sudan. But we can rattle a few
cages and get everyone talking, even screaming, that all genocides
must be recognized, that we have an active role in stopping them now,
and that, with public and political will, the genocide going on now in
Darfur can be stopped. As a movie, Screamers will play for as long as
people go to see it. That means it is critical to see the film in its
the first week, especially the first weekend. By filling the theatres,
we send a message to the country that people care about these issues.
In this regard, we are relying on the Armenian communities to start
the ball rolling. So by going to see "Screamers," you become a
screamer on the issue of genocide recognition. With the tragic news of
Hrant Dink’s murder, it’s all the more important to go see this film.
Dink is in the film talking about the pressures people face in Turkey,
people like himself and Orhan Pamuk. We believe he was killed for his
beliefs, so I would ask people to honor him by seeing this film.

Chaderjian: What was the experience of showing the film in Washington, D.C.?

Garapedian: We had a special screening at the Library of Congress for
congressmen, their staffers and the Washington media. It was packed,
standing room only.

Actually, I was a little worried about the Congressmen. I knew they’d
be intrigued by the political aspects of the film – but what about the
music? It turned out they liked it! How about that!

The Congressmen told us they understand the importance of reaching a
young audience on these issues – but the fact that they enjoyed the
music – that was really positive. The music is in the film for a
reason: to help people connect to the issues. I’m happy to say that in
Washington, it worked.

A Turkish woman from the ATAA [the Assembly of Turkish American
Associations] stood up at the end of the film and criticized me for
only showing the "dark side" of what is going on in Turkey. "What
about the 70,000 Armenians who are living and working in Turkey," she
asked. They are living in peace, she suggested. That was Wednesday
night. On Friday morning, we received the news that Hrant Dink had
been shot dead in front of his newspaper offices in Istanbul. What an
irony. It only confirms that Turkey is a polarized society, and
democrats – whatever their nationality – are at dreadful risk. But I
believe we must not despair.

I was speaking at an event in Fresno yesterday. A Turkish man stood up
at the end of the screening and said how he agreed with what Dink
stood for – the need to recognize the Genocide, greater democracy in
Turkey, and allowing people to speak freely without prosecution. It
was a very emotional moment, because he said he knew he could be
prosecuted in his country for just saying these words. There were many
Armenians in the audience, and I think it was the first time they
heard this sentiment spoken by a Turkish citizen. It was an electric
environment. It gives me hope that change is possible.

Chaderjian: How have others reacted to the film?

Garapedian: Many people have reacted with stunned silence, because the
images are overwhelming. People then tell me afterwards that they are
hopeful about the universal message – that genocides repeat and the
Armenian Genocide was the template for what occurred in the last
century. Many Armenians have told me they are grateful it is not only
about the Armenian Genocide, but other genocides, too.

The young people almost universally respond with the question, What can we do?

A niece of one of the survivors we feature in the film (Maritza
Ohanesian) came up to me yesterday at the Fresno event. Her aunt was
the 100-year-old survivor from Connecticut who received the letter
from Vice President Cheney, congratulating her for being the oldest
living survivor of the Armenian Genocide. She was so surprised to see
her aunt in the film. Unfortunately, Maritza died last November, a
year after I interviewed her. Her niece said she was so proud to see
her aunt in the film.

I have had this reaction – of feeling pride – from other Armenians. It
is a compliment, of course. But more generally I would like this film
to be a message from our community to the world, in some way. Hrant
Dink’s murder brings this message home: as Turkish citizens rallied on
the streets, they shouted, "We are all Hrant Dinks. We are all
Armenians."

Chaderjian: Tell us about the screening at the Southern California
synagogue this week.

Garapedian: The event last night was remarkable. 700 people attended:
it was a completely packed house, with many young people. The reaction
to the film was hugely positive. Rabbi Ed Feinstein commented on the
universal aspects of the message, and said it was important to
recognize the Armenian Genocide as the first genocide of the 20th
century and Darfur as the first genocide of the 21st century.

Shavo Odadjian from System of a Down was on hand to answer questions
from the audience, and he said how personal the film was to him, and
how this is just about being a human being. Along with the two Rabbis,
what he said was very inspiring.

Harut Sassounian told everyone about the latest news about the
Genocide resolution in Congress. Rabbi Ed Feinstein voiced his
support. I had to pinch myself – this is everything I could hope for,
to see that walls are coming down, and we, as communities who have
suffered genocide, are speaking with one voice. If this universal
message of free speech, human rights, and democracy can get through to
Turkish citizens, that would be the icing on the cake.

******************************************* ********************************

13. Book review: "We Need to Talk about Kevin"

Marilyn Arguelles reviews Lionel Shriver’s "We Need to Talk about
Kevin" (Harper Perennial, paperback, 2006)
Special to the "Armenian Reporter"

"We Need to Talk About Kevin" may be read as a cautionary tale about
the decision to bear children, a nature-versus-nurture argument, or an
old-fashioned thriller with a surprise ending. The story is
compelling, riveting, and one you won’t easily forget.

With her seventh book, journalist and novelist Lionel Shriver delivers
a powerful psychological study set against the backdrop of school
shootings of the 1990s. The Kevin of the title is Kevin Khatchadourian
(son of Eva and Franklin), whom we learn early on is incarcerated at
age 15 for having murdered seven classmates, a cafeteria worker, and a
teacher. The novel takes the form of letters from Eva to Franklin, as
she attempts to figure out why her first-born child was capable of
such evil.

When she first learns she is expecting a child, Eva is not as
overjoyed as she thought she would or should be. Her career as a
successful businesswoman has always been foremost in her
self-identity. Also a strong part of that identity is her cultural
heritage and her maiden name, which she has kept after marriage and
gives to her son Kevin as well.

Eva is hopeful that motherhood will be an enhancement to her already
enviable life. From the very beginning, however, Kevin rejects his
mother, first refusing to nurse, and at an early age delights in
pitting people against each other to his own advantage. The central
question of the novel is whether Kevin intuits Eva’s ambivalence about
motherhood and reacts accordingly, or whether he indeed is an evil
soul destined to be a sociopath.

Eva becomes pregnant with Celia, hoping for a second chance at
successful parenting. Kevin’s cruelty to his trusting younger sister
is quite disturbing. Due to Kevin’s cunning, his father Franklin does
not know the extent of Kevin’s malice and puts the best face on his
son’s behavior, which he chooses to see as typical teenage rebellion
and eccentricity. Franklin is an optimist and can’t or won’t
acknowledge the truth of Eva’s concerns.

Even more unsettling than Franklin’s attitude are the descriptions of
some of Kevin’s habits and predilections. In response to these
behaviors, Eva redoubles her efforts to be a good mother, but every
attempt is rewarded with even worse acting-out. The author does a good
job of avoiding a black-and-white portrayal of Kevin, however, by
creating a few situations in which Eva suspects Kevin as the
perpetrator only to find out that in these cases, he was innocent.
This compounds her confusion and creates more self-doubt.

Woven into Eva’s musing about her life up to the day of the killings
are references to her Armenian culture. Eva entered marriage with more
than a little life experience. She respects her heritage, but she
seems to have divested herself of the traditions she now remembers
with fondness, likely contrasting her stable upbringing with the chaos
of her son’s.

I tried to imagine how I would feel as the mother of this boy, and I
must admit that this is what disturbed me more than anything else. Is
the maternal instinct, even a weak one, strong enough to overcome the
revulsion Eva must feel as she sees Kevin develop into a monster? And
if the instinct loses the argument, how difficult would it be for Eva
to acknowledge that, on some level, she hates her son?

Despite everything, the reader should know that there is quite a bit
of humor (albeit of a dark hue) in the book, especially when Eva
recounts some of Kevin’s early, less destructive behaviors.

What prompts atrocities like mass murder at the hands of a teenager?
What results in a school shooting like the one at Columbine High
School? (Kevin’s killings happened prior to Columbine and others, and
while incarcerated he expresses anger and disdain for those who
followed him, boasting of his superiority as a mass murderer.) "We
Need to Talk about Kevin" sheds some light onto the subject with a
fictional character, whose psychology is interwoven into the fabric of
a mass media full of violence, but also interwoven with the delicate
relationships between parents and children, and the sometimes genetic
pre-dispositions that may be above and beyond family and contemporary
culture.

In an interview printed shortly after the release of the book, Ms.
Shriver (Lionel is a name she chose for herself) said that she is
childless and admits her own cowardice when she was trying to decide
whether or not to become a parent. She also said she admires those who
do, and she finished her book in awe of her character, Eva
Khatchadourian.

* * *

Marilyn Arguelles earns her living as an administrative secretary and
lives her life as a reader and long-distance runner. Her father was a
Christian Lebanese, and Marilyn appreciates the many similarities
between Armenian culture and her own — especially the wonderful food.

******************************************* ********************************

14. Editorial: We Are All Hrant Dink! We Are All Armenians!

Virulent nationalism bred in the environment of extreme intolerance in
the Republic of Turkey has claimed another victim in the streets of
Istanbul.

Hrant Dink, the courageous Turkish-Armenian publisher and free speech
champion, was assassinated for affirming the fact of the Armenian
Genocide and for challenging Turkish laws that denied him the
inalienable right to speak freely about this truth.

Three bullets fired specifically at an Armenian who refused to know
his place. Hrant Dink becomes the latest victim of the Armenian
Genocide.

Thus far, two individuals have been implicated: a teenage assailant,
Ogun Samast, and his trainer, Yasin Hayal, both of whom have allegedly
confessed to this hate crime. According to the Turkish newspaper
"Hurriyet," Hayal told investigators, "I gave him the gun and the
money. Ogun fulfilled his duty and saved the honor of Turkey."

As the investigation continues, it remains to be seen if there are
other nationalists behind Samast and Hayal.

It also remains to be seen if Turkey’s leaders will at long last deal
with the factors that contribute to the current hostile environment in
Turkey, where denial is rampant, where truth is suppressed, where
assassination of innocents is an acceptable remedy, and where murder
is somehow considered honorable.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan rightly condemned Dink’s murder
as "a bullet fired at democracy and freedom of expression." However,
neither Erdogan nor his colleagues in government have acknowledged
their culpability.

The Turkish government is wholly responsible for its strident denial
of the Armenian Genocide, for its threats of retaliation against any
nation that dares to affirm this crime against humanity, for its
prosecution of citizens who challenge state dogma, for its failure to
repeal repressive laws abridging free speech, and for its worldwide
campaign urging that "patriotic" Turks do all in their power to bury
this darkest chapter of Turkish history.

Even more ominously for the future of Turkish democracy, this is the
same Turkish government that has been ineffectual in dealing with a
threat so prevalent that it has its own name: the "deep state." It is
generally understood that this state-within-a-state consists of a
clique of military officers, security agency officials,
ultra-nationalists, and mafia kingpins, who are opposed to reform,
democracy, European Union membership, minority rights, and facing
history squarely.

Tragically for Hrant Dink, the same Turkish government prosecuted him
repeatedly for speaking freely about the Armenian Genocide, and
compounded its abuse of power by failing to protect him from
innumerable death threats. Hrant Dink, along with Nobel Laureate Orhan
Pamuk, internationally renowned novelist Elif Shafak, historian Taner
Akçam, and others, merit protection and acclaim from their government,
not harassment and persecution.

We stand in solidarity with citizens of Turkey who rightfully demand
from their leaders freedom and protection for all. Until Turkey’s
repressive free speech laws are repealed, until the government
protects its citizens — not prosecutes them — until the deep state
is eliminated, everyone committed to a democratic, plural Turkey, one
reconciled with its past, must stand together.

In such a pervasive atmosphere of intolerance and intimidation, it was
both extraordinary and touching to witness the spontaneous vigil at
the site of Hrant Dink’s assassination. Turkish citizens of all
nationalities and creeds gathered and proclaimed: "We are all Hrant
Dink." "We are all Armenians."

******************************** *******************************************
Direct your inquiries to [email protected]rmenianreporteronline.com
(c) 2007 CS Media Enterprises LLC. All Rights Reserved

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

http://www.armenianreporteronline.com

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS