The Hrant Dink Case, Seven Years Later

Seven years ago today, journalist Hrant Dink was shot down in cold blood on an Istanbul street.  In cities throughout the world his death will be commemorated today.  And the call for justice will continue.


Dink, an ebullient public intellectual and journalist, was a key figure in Turkey’s dwindling Armenian community and an important activist in Turkey’s long struggle for a more liberal, tolerant society.  For this, he was rewarded with state harassment, a public vilification campaign, and, finally, an assassin’s bullet.

The triggerman, Ogün Samast, was quickly arrested and, in 2011, sentenced to a lengthy prison term.  Yet, as Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said at the time,

While the sentencing of Ogün Samast is welcome news, he is just one of the people responsible for Hrant Dink’s murder. The authorities must investigate all the circumstances around his death and bring everyone responsible to justice, whatever their position of power…The murder of Hrant Dink came after he was prosecuted by the Turkish authorities for his writings on the identity of Turkish citizens of Armenian origin. His murder was apparently committed with the tacit agreement of elements within the Turkish law enforcement agencies. This cannot go unpunished.

In the years since, Amnesty has repeatedly voiced concern over the failure of Turkish authorities to fully investigate state officials’ alleged involvement in the killing.

The trial continues, but justice seems as elusive as ever.  Earlier this month, two key figures in the case were briefly detained and questioned but quickly released.

In the meantime, authorities moved to close Gezi Park in advance of a the planned commemoration.

Howard Eissenstat
Department of History, St. Lawrence University

[Update: See here for photographs by our friends at Nar Photos of the commemoration in Istanbul]

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