OCTOBER 7, 2005
Posted October 18, 2005

Hrant Dink, Agos


A Turkish-Armenian journalist was convicted of “insulting and weakening Turkish identity through the media” An Istanbul court sentenced Dink, 52, editor-in-chief of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, to a six-month suspended term. Dink and his lawyer, Fethiye Cetin, said they appeal.

The charges stemmed from a series of articles Dink wrote in early 2004 dealing with the collective memory of the Armenian massacres of 1915-1917 under the Ottoman Empire. He called on Armenians to move beyond historical anger toward Turks and “turn to the new blood of independent Armenia.”

Turkish law, even under recent legal reforms, allows for journalists to be criminally prosecuted and imprisoned for their work. Dink was prosecuted under a provision of the new penal code that states: “A person who insults Turkishness, the Republic, or the Turkish Parliament will be punished with imprisonment ranging from six months to three years.” Turkish authorities did not elaborate on what they considered insulting in Dink’s work.

Dink, who founded Agos in 1996, was sentenced the same week talks began on Turkey’s application to join the European Union.

“This is a political decision because I wrote about the Armenian genocide and they detest that, so they found a way to accuse me of insulting Turks,” Dink told CPJ. He said he is prepared to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights to clear his name.

Turkey does not acknowledge as genocide the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks at the beginning of the 20th century. The European Parliament has conditioned Turkey’s entry to the EU on its formal recognition of the killings as genocide.

Dink faces additional charges for making critical comments at a 2002 human rights conference about Turkey’s national anthem and a daily oath taken by Turkish schoolchildren in which they say, “Happy is the one who says, ‘I am a Turk.’ ” Dink said then that he did not feel like a Turk, but like an Armenian who is a citizen of Turkey.