Archive for the 'Istanbul' Category

‘My Turkishness in Revolt’

Taner Akcam’s latest essay has been translated from Turkish and published by the Armenian Reporter. The online version omits the paragraphing and the Turkish accent marks, which makes it difficult to read as it should be read. Below is the corrected version:

Armenian Reporter, Feb. 10, 2006

© 2006 Armenian Reporter

“My Turkishness in Revolt”

By Taner Akçam

EDITOR’S NOTE: Taner Akçam – Turkish intellectual, professor at the University of Minnesota, and the author of A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility – recently became the subject 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 essay below – originally published as Türklüğümün İsyanı (“The Revolt of My Turkishness”) in the January 24, 2007 edition of the Turkish newspaper, Radikal – is Mr. Akçam’s approved English translation of his original Turkish-language article. It is being reprinted in the Reporter with the author’s permission.

I am a Turk. Hrant was an Armenian. I write for Agos. He was Agos. Hrant, Agos‘s Turkish writers, and Agos itself risked everything for a cause: to cease the hostility between Turks and Armenians; to bring the resentment and hatred to an end. We wanted each group, each nationality, to live together on the common ground of mutual respect.

Hrant and Agos were a single flower blooming on the barren plains of Turkey. That flower was destroyed, torn from the ground. Everyone says, “The bullet fired at Hrant hit Turkey.” That’s true, but we need to ask ourselves in complete and transparent honesty: Who made the target for that bullet? Who targeted Hrant so the bullet would find its mark? Who held him fast so the shot wasn’t wasted?

Hrant wasn’t killed by a lone 17-year-old. He was murdered by those who made him a target and held him in place.

Nor was he killed by a single bullet. It was the targeting, month by month, that murdered him.

“I’m afraid,” he said on January 5. “I’m very afraid, Taner. The attacks on me and on Agos are very systematic. They called me to the Governor’s office, where they started making threats. They said, ‘We’ll make you pay for everything you’ve been doing.’ All the attacks began after I was threatened.”

“2007 is going to be a bad year, Taner,” he continued. “They’re not going to ease off. We’ve been made into a horrible target. Between the press, the politicians, and the lawyers, they’ve created this atmosphere that’s so poisonous, they’ve made us such an obscenity, that we’ve become sitting ducks.

“They’ve opened up hunting season, Taner, and they’ve got us right where they want us.”

Hrant wasn’t killed by a 17-year-old. He was murdered by those who portrayed him as an enemy of Turkey, every single day in the press, to that 17-year-old. He was murdered by those who dragged him to the doors of the courthouse under Article 301. He was murdered by those who aimed Article 301 during their open season on intellectuals, and by those who didn’t have the courage to change Article 301. Hrant was murdered by those who called him to the Governor’s office and then threatened him instead of protecting him.

There’s no point in shedding crocodile tears. Let us bow our heads and look at our hands. Let us ponder how we will clean off the blood. You organs of the press who have expressed shock over Hrant’s death, go read your back issues, look at what you wrote about Hrant. You will see the murderer there. You who used 301 as a weapon to hunt intellectuals, see what you wrote about 301, look at the court decisions. You will see the murderer there.

Dear government officials, spare us your crocodile tears. Tell us what you plan to do to the Lieutenant Governor who called Hrant into his office and, together with an official from the National Intelligence Bureau, proceeded to threaten him. What do you intend to do to them?

Hrant was portrayed as “the Armenian who insulted Turkishness.” For this he was murdered. He was murdered because he said, “Turkey must confront its history.” The hands that pulled the trigger – or caused it to be pulled – in 2007 are the same hands that shot all the Hrants in 1915, the same hands that left all those Armenians to choke in the desert.

Hrant’s killers are sending us a message. They’re saying “Yes! We were behind 1915 and we’ll do it again in 2007!” Hrant’s murderers believe they killed in the name of Turkishness, just like those who killed all the Hrants in 1915.

For them, Turkishness is about committing murder. It means setting someone up as the enemy and then targeting that person for destruction.

Quite the contrary, the murderers are a black stain upon the brow of Turkishness. It is they who have demeaned Turkish identity.

For this reason, we have stood up and we have decided to take Turkishness out of the assassins’ hands and we have shouted out, “We are all Hrant! We are all Armenian!” We are the resounding cry of Turkishness and Turkey. All of us – Turks, Kurds, Alevites, secularists, and Muslims alike – shout out on behalf of everyone who wants to take Turkishness away from these murderers.

Turkishness is a beautiful thing that should be respected instead of left in the hands of murderers; so is Armenianness.

We can feel proud to be Turkish only if we can acknowledge the murderer for who he is. That is what we are doing today. By declaring, “We are all Armenians,” we know that we honor Turkishness; by identifying the true murderer, we create a Turkishness worth claiming.

Today we declare to the world that murder has nothing to do with Turkishness or Turkey. We are not going to leave Turkishness in the hands of murderers. We will not allow Turkishness to be stained by hate crimes towards Armenians. Either Turkishness belongs to the murderers, or it belongs to us.

Turks cry out that the person who killed Hrant is a murderer. In the wake of his death, Turkishness affirms that we are all Armenians.

This, I say, is what we also need to do for 1915.

If we can affirm that a real Turk is someone who can distance Turkishness from the murder of Hrant Dink, then we ought to be able to do the same thing for the events around 1915. Those who gather in a protective circle around Hrant’s murderer are the same people who protected the murderers of 1915. Those who honored Talaat, Bahaettin Sakir and Dr. Nazim yesterday are doing the same for Hrant’s murderer today.

If we can come out and declare Hrant’s murder a “shameful act,” then we should be able to state the same, as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk did, about the acts that occurred in 1915. Today, hundreds of thousands of us condemn this murder by declaring “We are all Armenian.” In 1915, Turks, Kurds, Moslems and Alevites did the same. We have to choose, not only for today but for yesterday as well.

Whose side are we on? Which “Turkishness” are we defending, the one that defends the murderers or the one that condemns the murderous acts? Do we stand with Kemal, the Mayor of Boğazlıyan, who annihilated Armenians in 1915, or with Abdullahzade Mehmet Efendi, the Mufti of Boğazlıyan, who bore witness against that mayor at the trial that lead to his execution, stating, “I fear the wrath of God”?

Are we going to represent the “Turkishness” that defended the crimes of Talat, Enver, Bahaettin Şakir, Doctor Nâzım, and Governor Resit of Diyarbakır? Or will we oppose them in the name of a Turkishness that condemns such horror?

We need to know that in 1915 we had Mazhar, the governor of Ankara; Celal, the governor of Aleppo; Reşit, the governor of Kastamonu; Cemal, the lieutenant governor of Yozgat; Ali Faik, the mayor of Kütahya; and Ali Fuat, the mayor of Der-Zor. And we had soldiers and army commanders in 1915, men we can embrace with respect, for opposing what happened: Vehip Pasha, Commander of the Third Army; Avni Pasha, Commander of the Trabzon garrison; Colonel Vasfi; and Salim, Major Commandant of the Yozgat post.

Trabzon has its share of murderers like Ogün Samast in 2007 and Governor Cemal Azmi and Unionist “Yenibahçeli” Nail in 1915. But those who opposed the crimes of 1915 and didn’t hesitate to identify the murderers in court included many citizens of Trabzon: Nuri, Chief of Police; businessman, Ahmet Ali Bey; Customs Inspector Nesim Bey, and parliamentarian Hafiz Mehmet Emin Bey, who testified, “I saw with my own eyes that the Armenians were loaded onto boats and taken out and drowned, but I couldn’t do anything to stop it.”

These are just a few of the dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people who opposed the horrible acts committed.

We, Turks and Turkey, have a choice to make. We will affirm either the Turkishness of murderers past and present, or the Turkishness of those who cry out today, “We are all Armenian!” and who yesterday declared, “We will not let our hands be stained with blood.”

The whole world looks upon us with respect because they see us draw a line between Turkishness and barbarism. Today we are building a wall between murderers and Turkishness; we are Turks who know how to point the finger at a murderer.

We must show the same courage in regard to the events of 1915. Hrant wanted us to. When he said, “I love Turks and Turkey, and I consider it a privilege to be living amongst Turks,” that’s what he was asking for. We need to acknowledge the murderers of the Hrants of 1915, and we need to draw a line between them and Turkishness. If we are going to own up to this murder in 2007 then we need to do the same for those of 1915.

That’s what confronting one’s history is about. Today, by saying to Hrant’s murderer, “You don’t represent me as a Turk: you are simply a murderer,” we have begun the process of confronting and acknowledging our history. We must do the same with the murderers of 1915 by drawing a line between their acts and our Turkishness. We must condemn these murderers as having smeared our brows with the dark stain of their crimes. Then, and only then, can we Turks go about the world with our heads held high.

I cry out in the name of Turkishness. I cry out as a Turk, as a friend who lost Hrant, my beloved Armenian brother. Let’s take back Turkishness from the murderous hands of those who wish to smear us with their dark deeds. Let’s shout in one voice, “WE ARE ALL HRANT! WE ARE ALL ARMENIANS!”

Radikal (Turkey)

January 24, 2007

FEB 4, 2007: Nationalist Demo in Istanbul

UPDATE: What Reuters reports as a nationalist demonstration, was actually an anti-Armenian gathering in the Armenian populated district of Istanbul, where Turkish nationalists chanted things like “Armenians should know their limits.” According to a group e-mail I received from a Turk in Istanbul, “Yesterday a crowd of people gathered in the center of Samatya (an area, mostly inhabited by Armenians) and shouted anti-Armenian slogans like ‘Armenians should know their limits.’ Police came and dispersed them.”
Photographs distributed by Reuters via YahooNews show a group of nationalist Turk “protesters carrying a banner that reads, ‘We all are Mustafa Kemal. We all are Turks’ during a demonstration in Istanbul February 4, 2007. A group of nationalist protesters on Sunday demonstrated in reaction to banners that read ‘We all are Armenians’ carried by those who attended the funeral ceremony of Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink last month.”

Several Turkish children were wrapped in Turkish flags and placed in the front of the demonstration. As always, Reuters “forgot” to mention that there was also, at least, one Azerbaijani flag during the apparent anti-Armenian protest.

Why are nationalists using Turkish children again and again? Wasn’t the 17-year-old kid enough?

Dink: I’d Rather Die on Feet

An unseen footage of Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist whose funeral was attended by over 100,000 people in Turkey, shows the journalist saying in November of 2006 he would rather die on feet than in bed.  He smiled while talking about his possible death.

Prof. Levon Marashlian has prepared a short video, posted at YouTube, in Dink’s memory.

Some of the video (seems has not been shown anywhere before) is from November, 2006 in Glendale, California.  As Prof. Marashlian likes videodocumenting almost everything, I believe this was shot by him.

Dink speaks Armenian, but there is English subtitle too.  With his wonderful smile, Dink adds, “If something is going to happen, I’d rather struggle on feet, and die on feet, and not in bed.”

Interestingly, Dink doesn’t pronounce the word “death/die” but Marashlian still puts it in the subtitle, because no other word could fit in the sentence.

Dink didn’t fear death and smiled while talking about it.

Rest in peace, Dink pasha.

Eulogy for Dink by his wife

Translated from Turkisb by Fatma Gocek (received in e-mail communication):

Below and attached please find my translation of the eulogy Hrant Dink’s wife Rakel Dink delivered in front of his coffin today, on 23 January 2007, in Osmanbey, Istanbul in front of a very large crowd. I have used the text that was printed in the Yeni Safak newspaper.

Muge [Fatma Gocek]

“Letter to My Beloved” by Rakel Dink

“I am here today full of immense grief and dignity. We are all here today with our sorrow. This silence creates within us a sorrowful contentment.

Today we send off half of my soul, my beloved, the father of my children. We are going to actualize a march without any slogans and without any disrespect. Today we are going to generate immense sound through our silence.

Whoever the assasin may be, either 17 or 27 years’ old, I know myself that he too was once a baby. One cannot accomplish anything without questioning first how an assasasin was created from such a baby.

It was Hrant’s honesty, transparency and love that brought him here. 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 skies, he too came from soil [like us]. It was what he did, the style he chose, the love in his heart that made him great. He became a great man because he thought great things and pronounced great words.

And you too are great for being here today. But do not let this suffice, do not be content with this act alone! One cannot accomplish a great future through hatred, through offense, through holding one blood superior to another. One can only rise through respect for the other.

My beloved!

You departed without having your body age, without getting sick, without spending enough time with those you loved. We too will join you there, my beloved, in that matchless heaven… Only love can enter that domain. We shall live there together forever with true love.

A love that is not jealous of anyone, a love that does not murder, belittle, hold grudges; a love that forgives, respects one’s brothers; a love found in the Messiah….

My beloved, which darkness is capable of erasing your words and your deeds? Could it be fear? Life? Injustice? The temptations of the world? Or death, my beloved?

I too wrote you a love letter, my beloved! It was very hard to write these [words] my beloved!

You departed from those you loved, from your children, your grandchildren, from us, from my lap, but you did not depart from your country, my beloved!”

Was Dink the One?

There seems to be realistic hope that Hrant Dink’s death could be the ultimate price for bringing the Armenian and Turkish people together.  Armenian officials, first time after Turkey closed down the border, are in Turkey to participate in Dink’s funeral.


Some Turkish legislators are saying they will do their best to get rid of Code 301 – the law under which Dink was convicted of “insulting Turkishness.”

Yet the biggest question remains the acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide – something that Dink was punished for.  And the hope for this last one is a Turkish sign circulated in the Internet for those who want to use it in Tuesday’s funeral.  The sign has the year of Dink’s murder, and the year of the Armenian Genocide.

Maybe Dink was the one?

Istanbul Church Vandalized

On the wall of the Armenian Surp Takavor Church in Kadikoy/ Istanbul
some wrote on Saturday night, ”A Hrant dead, tomorrow more Hrants.
Die, Ugly Armenian!”


Authorities have cleared the wall immediately, but
journalists are not allowed to take pictures.

Cartoon by, the webmaster of which sent the news about the vandalism.
Source: Todays Milliyet newspaper/ Can Dundars article.

Murder Mastermind Trained in Azerbaijan

According to the International Herald Tribune, “One of the suspects [in Hrant Dink’s assasination], Yasin Hayal, an alleged Islamic militant who learned to make bombs from Chechen militants at a camp in Azerbaijan and who served 11 months in jail for the bombing of a McDonalds restaurant in Trabzon in 2004, is suspected of masterminding the attacks on both Dink and Father Santaro.”

The Turkish Haber Vitrini has an article on Yasin Hayal and a photo of him.


Ayse Gunaysu, a Turkish human rights champion and a contributor to Blogian, has written an angry article about shameless Turkish officials’ self-victimization in Hrant Dink’s death. The original was written in Turkish; this is a translation by another Turkish fellow.  Ayse’s article is especially interesting given the fact that the nationalist Turkish media has now overcome its self-victimization stage and is now comparing Hrant Dink’s murder to the assasination of the main organizer of the Armenian Genocide – Talaat Pasha.


Everyone who says that this was an attack on Turkey, everyone who talks about the sinister games played on Turkey, everyone who talks about the timing of this attack coinciding with foreign parliaments’ making decisions on the “alleged” genocide, and thus trying to disguise the fact that Hrant Dink was being tried because he said “genocide” and was receiving threats because of this, and everyone who is protecting the real murderer, that is the ones who are allowing Union and Progress’ covert operator, lyncher, rabid spirit to still live on, has a share of responsibility.

The Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk, who yelled from the podiums of the congress that the ones who were organizing the Armenian conference were stabbing the Turkish people in the back, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer who vetoed the law proposal dealing with minority foundations on the grounds that it would strengthen minorities, the district attorneys who turn a blind eye on thousands of cases of torture, convictions without trial, unknown culprits taken into custody and lost, but processed and tried the alleged “notices of guilt” that are devoid of the most elementary notions of universal law, the newspaper Hurriyet that in the days Hrant Dink declared he was going to look for justice in the European Human Rights Courts, made front page news with the head of the Greek foundations who said he wouldn’t go to European Human Rights Courts as he trusted the Turkish Justice system, called him a true citizen, and therefore whomever tried to look for justice in the European H.R. Courts was shown as a target, branded as “so-called/pseudo” citizen, and, before Hrant’s blood was even dry, the Turkish Television stations that for hours debated a litany of provocation by relating it to the law proposal pending in the United States Congress, are all a part of this murder, they have a responsibility.

Everybody who says that this was an attack on Turkey is lying. Because this attack was made possible by Turkey herself therefore, Turkey is responsible. This attack was made possible by the government that has implemented article 301, as protection against only the denigration of Turkishness, not of all identities, thus providing a legal basis for aggression, and it was made possible by an entire population of Turkey who didn’t reject this article.

Everybody who, instead of feeling shame faced with the murder of Hrant Dink, instead of saying “we are all guilty”, worried about Turkey’s dignity, from the officials to the opinion leaders, they are all lying, they are trying to disguise their guilt. Let all the liars shut up.

And you shut up too please, democratic journalists like Altan Oymen. If you are not refusing to answer questions that link the murder of Hrant to the genocide recognition proposal in the US Congress, and do not see a problem replying to them, if you are not refusing to be disrespectful to the pain of the Armenian people by making such connections, if you are not rejecting to thus support the ones who are trying to fool people with conspiracy theories by foreign influences aimed at the Turkish people, just to exonerate our own murderers, shut up, all of you shut up.


Original source in Turkish


The Murderer

UPDATE: The suspect is arrested.  

UPDATE: Turkish TVs are saying the name of the murderer is OGUN SANMAZ from Trabzon.

via ArmenNews The photo of Dink’s possible murderer has been released. In contrary to earlier reports, the assasin doesn’t look like a teenager, but his outfit does.

The 1,500,001st

(The homepage of Google News several hours ago)

At this point, almost everybody knows that Turkey’s outspoken journalist and the most famous Armenian of that country was shot to death several hours ago.

I was so shocked the entire day that could not prepare an entry for the blog. It has been several hours, and I am finally able to share some thoughts and information.

Hrant Dink kept his promise of leaving Turkey. When he was convicted in “insulting Turkishness” (saying that he was an Armenian, not a Turk), Dink said he would leave the country if he were not cleared off the charge.

The shots of a nationalist Turk killed Dink today.

As the news is the main story of the international media, there are not, perhaps, new details of the murder that can be posted at this time, and the point of this post is to actually commemorate and provided underreported information.

I turned on my work computer this morning, and as I opened the Internet homepage (, a headline struck my heart: Turkish-Armenian Journalist Shot Dead in Istanbul.

I breathlessly opened the link and found out that Hrant Dink had been assassinated. Although not having met Dink in person, I was in such a pain and anger as though as I had just lost a close friend.

I went ahead to check my e-mail where I knew I would find many messages of anger and mourning by Dink’s friends and colleagues received through a private but publicly known group discussion.

Fatma Gocek, a Turkish professor in America, had written,

it is in tears and with great remorse that i try to write you this e-mail,
the worst one i have written in my entire life, to share with you the
news of the assassination of a great friend, hrant dink, the editor of the
agos newspaper and a champion of human rights in turkey.

(The homepage of The New York Times several hours ago)
A good friend, Amberin Zaman, a prominent Turkey-based international reporter, informed that she had

just returned from Agos where hundreds of Turks are keeping vigil, lighting candles and laying down red carnations around his picture, singing Sari Gul, crying, chanting “We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenians” Hepimiz Hrantiz, Hepimiz Ermeniyiz.”followed by Katil Devlet, Killer State. Inside Agos the mood was predictably sombre. A clutch of young people were holding up copies of todays’ Agos from the balcony overlooking the crowd.

I am amazed that Erdogan was shameless enough to call Hrant’s slaying “a bullet aimed at free speech.” Its the laws his government passed that have created the atmosphere in which Hrant became a target. And of course Cemil Cicek, the Justice Minister immediately hints at some kind of plot revolving aroud Armenian efforts to get US congressional recogition of the genocide. Well the excuse for not passing the resolution–that it would make it harder for Turkey to reach out to the Armenians–no longer holds.

Dikran Abrahamian, a close friend from Canada, wrote,

Personal feelings and emotions aside, Hrant Dink is the latest victim of the Armenian Genocide. The atmosphere of hatred, intolerance and deplorable stance of the Turkish establishment regarding Human Rights and Freedom of Speech paved the way to such a tragic end.

Dikran’s spirit was seen in an Independent article by Robert Fisk, where the latter wrote, “Hrant Dink became the 1,500,001st victim of the Armenian genocide yesterday.”

Videos from Hrant Dink’s commemoration and his murder’s condemnation are available at (I learned about this link from a Yahoo’s Armenia group). Photographs are available at