When Hrant Dink was killed by a 17-year-old boy on Jan. 19, 2007, we felt utterly miserable for losing our healer, one who was adept at repairing the ties of many Armenians like me and “others” with our country. It was Dink who discovered me as an author and backed me at all times and motivated me with his exemplary attitude. He was a frank, bold, smart and conscientious man: a man of Anatolia.
He had given up his comfortable and affluent life in order to put an end to the self-isolation of Armenians. The reason he published Agos in both Armenian and Turkish was that he wanted to make two peoples, Armenians and Turks, know each other, remember an age-old fraternity and come together again. I worked with him at the same paper for 10 years. Those were hard and dangerous days, but not even once did I feel that his faith in this country had waned. He never produced a prejudiced sentence.
At 3 p.m. on that black day on Jan. 19, hearing of the loss of such a loved one, I thought I witnessed what real hell was in this world. But I wanted to go and see his body and be with him. I can’t lie to you, at the time I thought, “Were we wrong? Were Hrant, myself and all of us more optimistic about this country than we should have been?”
The same doubts were creeping into my mind as I looked at the thousands of people who had gathered in front of Agos that evening. I continued to ask myself: “We are fighting in vain. How many people are there in this country who believe in fraternity, equality and peace? Can we still nurture hopes for a country which fails to protect a man of peace like Hrant?”
I knew such sorrows might be experienced anywhere, but the struggle for upholding goodness must continue. Yet the ember had already fallen in our house.
When I got to Agos on the day of the funeral, my doubts had flown away. At least 100,000 or perhaps 200,000 people had come to pay their final respects to Hrant and protest against the murderers: Armenians, Turks, Kurds, Muslims, leftists, foreigners, people from Armenia, headscarved women, those who sounded zılgıts (a form of ululating).
Just to experience this moment to the fullest, I walked together with my family and friends among the crowd from Agos to Yenikapı. Oddly enough, I felt like an honored citizen for the first time. The deep state, i.e., Ergenekon -- a clandestine organization nested within the state trying to overthrow or manipulate the democratically elected government -- might have murdered Hrant, but the enthusiasm, rage and belief in fraternity of the people were greater than everything.
The murder case went badly. Actually, everything was crystal clear. The state had been involved in the design, committing and covering up, i.e., all stages of the murder. The state had intertwined with the deeper structure in terms of negligence and premeditation. It is exactly for this reason the case did not progress as it should and ended up being a fiasco.
Turkey is trying to confront its deep state. But this is not as easy as it may seem. Old habits, the prevalence of pro-Ergenekon people within the bureaucracy, and the continuation of the old state’s mentality make things hard for reformists. Indeed, it is for this reason the government did not throw its weight behind the case. There are people who seek to protect the old state or to fight with it when it attempts to attack them and make do when it comes to agreement with them.
As the case was moving towards becoming a fiasco, and after the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found Turkey in violation of several articles in the European Convention on Human Rights concerning how it handled the case, President Abdullah Gül told the inspectors of the State Audit Institution (DDK) to examine the Dink murder. The DDK came up with a valuable report. This was a historic report which revealed the state’s practice of “lack of punishment.”
On Aug. 6, Hrant’s Muslim friends met Mr. Gül. The meeting lasted for an hour. Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, Hilal Kaplan and Cemal Uşşak, too, attended the meeting. They asked for Gül’s continued support for solving the murder. Gül is really a very valuable statesman. He has stated that he has been unable to idly take in the Dink murder and that the state has responsibility for it.
He noted that he can understand the problems of non-Muslim religious minorities in Turkey as he closely monitored Muslim communities in other countries when he was foreign minister. He indicated that according to the DDK’s report, the inevitability of the Dink murder was clear and that made him sorry. “The reports prepared upon instruction by the president will not be shelved,” he said, stressing that he would make the necessary follow-up if the report went unnoticed.
We hope the efforts of Gül and the We Demand Justice Union will be productive.