ANKARA: Dink’s Half-Solved Murder


July 25, 2011

As Anders Behring Breivik appeared before a court Monday in Oslo
after confessing to the murders of 76 people (local police lowered the
figure from 93 late Monday) in Norway in a rage of religious hatred,
an Istanbul court convicted Ogun Samast, who murdered journalist
Hrant Dink in a rage of ethnic hatred back in 2007.

This murder has similarities with Breivik’s motivation in killing
all those innocent people in order to agitate anti-Muslim feelings
throughout Europe by drawing attention through his violent methods.

Samast, an ignorant young man with a Turkish nationalist background
from the Black Sea coastal city of Trabzon, had killed Dink, mainly
because Dink was of Armenian ethnic origin.

A Juvenile Court (since he was under 18 at the time of the murder)
convicted Samast Monday to 22 years and 10 months in prison; one of
the maximum punishments which could be given by such a court.

Fethiye Cetin, a lawyer for Dink’s family, said the punishment should
act as a deterrent for all similar cases.

She was probably concerned that similar cases might be repeated in
future. There is a general belief among those who were closely watching
the trial that leads to a deep suspicion. They believe that despite
the fact that the murderer was caught right after the incident with
his gun and confessed almost proudly, there were conspirators behind
the scene manipulating the young hitman while they themselves remained
in the shadows.

It is true that the murder of Dink has created awareness, at least
among urban intellectuals. It is also true that after some nationalist
agitators were put in jail as part of the Ergenekon coup-plot case
and the Zirve Bookhouse murder trial in Malatya, there was a visible
drop in such open threats and actions.

Yet, due to the decades-long cultural pollution as a result of
indoctrination going back to the years of the collapse of the Ottoman
Empire, the traces of the atmosphere of hatred is still around.

One unpleasant example was seen on Sunday in Trabzon, during the
opening ceremony of the European Youth Olympic Festival in which
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also attended.

Yes, there was a moment of silence for those murdered in Norway and
all other victims of terrorism but the young athletes from Armenia
and Israel were booed by local spectators because of the political
and cultural atmosphere.

Erdogan was not pleased at what he witnessed, but that is what we have.

This poisonous atmosphere has started to manifest itself in a different
and dangerous way. After a rise in the number of the killings by the
outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, militants, despite the
Erdogan government’s Kurdish initiative, a new wave of intolerance
has been triggered, which manifested itself when folk singer Aynur
Dogan was booed because she sang in Kurdish during the prestigious
Istanbul Jazz Festival.

It is important that Dink’s murderer has been convicted. It is no
less important to try to deal with this atmosphere of hatred – that
will take more time and effort.

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