Thousands commemorate Hrant Dink in Istanbul

Commemorating Armenian journalist Hrant Dink who was murdered by an ultra-nationalist in Istanbul 16 years ago, thousands in Istanbul said, "We are all Hrant, we are all Armenians.”

Thousands of people commemorated the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was murdered in Istanbul 16 years ago. The event took place in front of the former editorial office of the Agos newspaper on Halaskargazi Street, where Hrant Dink was shot dead in the street on 19 January 2007. Before his murder, the editor-in-chief of the Armenian weekly Agos had been persecuted for years by nationalist forces in society and the judiciary because he described the genocide of the Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire as such. Even shortly before his death, he was subjected to hostility from ultra-nationalist circles and judicial persecution - for "insulting Turkishness". Dink campaigned for the rights of minorities and for reconciliation between Armenians and Turks and fought for democracy, freedom and social confrontation with the genocide of 1915. To this day, the Turkish government categorically rejects this classification.

The police sealed off the venue in the run-up to the commemoration and carried out checks on people. A huge picture of Hrant Dink was hung on the building where the Agos editorial office used to sit. At the spot where Dink was hit by the fatal shots, people laid flowers and pomegranates. Signs read "Justice for Hrant" and "We are all Hrant, we are all Armenians" in Armenian, Turkish and Kurdish. Armenian songs and an audio recording of an earlier speech by Hrant Dink were played.

Numerous representatives of democratic mass organisations and politicians from the HDP and CHP took part in the commemoration, including HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan. Bircan Yorulmaz, a defendant in the so-called Kobanê trial who has just been released from prison, read out a message from the film producer Çiğdem Mater, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison in the Gezi Uprising trial. Another message read out was from Afghan human rights defender Shahrazad Akbar, who was awarded the Hrank Dink Prize this year.

At 3.05 pm, the time of the murder, the Dink family came to the memorial site. Rakel Dink, the widow of the murdered journalist, laid a flower at the scene. Director Emin Alper said in a speech that the murder remains a bleeding wound. Justice has not been served, he said, and the darkness created by the killers has perhaps become even blacker in the meantime.

"We are Hrant's friends, and we promised him an equal, dignified and free life together. Today we are here to remember that promise once again and to say in unison: 'In defiance of fascism - Hrant, you are my brother'. Just as tomorrow we will unanimously be women, Alevis, Kurds, homosexuals or trans persons, today we proudly persistently shout: 'We are all Hrant, we are all Armenians'. We are here to take the pen out of the hands of the murderers who write history and to write the history of brotherhood," said Emin Alper.