January 19 marks the 15th anniversary of the assassination of prominent Armenian-Turkish journalist, the editor-in-chief of Istanbul-based Agos newspaper Hrant Dink.
Dink was one of Turkey's most prominent Armenian voices. Dink was critical of Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide in the beginning of the 20th century. The journalist was prosecuted three times for denigrating Turkish nation and received numerous death threats from Turkish nationalists after a series of articles he wrote on Armenian identity. As a result of lawsuit filed in charge of “insulting and defaming Turkishness” Dink was sentenced six months in prison by the criminal court in 2005. Two years later he lost his life in a gun attack on his exit from Agos newspaper murdered by 17-year-old nationalist Ogun Samast. More than 100,000 people marched in the funeral procession for Dink. "We are all Armenians," chanted mourners in an extraordinary show of affection for the journalist.
Hrant Dink was born in Malatya on September 15, 1954, the eldest of three sons to Sarkis Dink – one of the survivors of the Armenian Geocide. He received his primary education at the Protestant Armenian Primary School and his secondary education at the Surb Hac Armenian High School, working as a tutor at the same time
Dink was one of the founders of Agos weekly, the only newspaper in Turkey published in Armenian and Turkish. The newspaper opened up the channels of communication to the society at large for the Armenian community the participation of Armenians in the political-cultural life in Turkey increased greatly, and public awareness in Turkey of the issues of the Armenians started to increase. Dink was one of the first public figures who started writing about the Armenian Genocide, the issues of Armenia community and the rights of national minorities.
Despite threats on his life, he refused to remain silent. He always said his aim was to improve the difficult relationship between Turks and Armenians. 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.
Meanwhile, he believed that diaspora Armenians should be able to live free of the weight of historical memory. "Turkish-Armenian relations should be taken out of a 1915 meters-deep well."
It has been 15 years since judicial process that began after the murder is still not completed.