01.31.08

Schiff Honors Memory of Slain Journalist Hrant Dink One Year After his Death

Official Seal of the US House of Representatives

Thursday, January 31, 2008 Contact: Sean Oblack (202) 225-4176

Schiff Honors Memory of Slain Journalist Hrant Dink One Year After his Death

Washington D.C. – This week, in honor of the anniversary of the murder journalist Hrant Dink, Rep. Schiff remembered the memory of Mr. Dink with the following Congressional Record statement:

“Madame Speaker:

“It is with a mixture of anger and sadness that I rise today to honor the one year anniversary of the murder of Hrant Dink, the courageous Armenian-Turkish journalist, who was murdered by a Turkish extremist.

“Mr. Dink founded the bilingual newspaper Agos in 1996, giving a voice to Turkey’s Armenians.  He acted on his beliefs of building community and acknowledging the past, for which he was persecuted, prosecuted and eventually forced to pay the ultimate price.  Clearly, however, his life’s work was not in vain; at his funeral, approximately one hundred thousand people marched behind his coffin, chanting, “We are all Dink.  We are all Armenians.”

“Before Mr. Dink’s untimely death last January, the Turkish government constantly tried to limit his freedom of speech.  It confiscated copies of Agos on many occasions and on the flimsiest of pretenses.  In 2004, Mr. Dink wrote an article stating that Turkey’s first woman pilot was an Armenian orphan adopted after 1915.  The government convicted him of insulting “Turkishness” under Article 301 of the Penal Code, a law specifically designed to prevent discussion of the Armenian Genocide.  He received a six-month suspended sentence. This was just one of several such prosecutions against Mr. Dink.

“Mr. Dink’s courage to confront the historical facts of the Armenian Genocide cost him his life.  He continually received threatening telephone calls, emails, and letters.  He reported this terrorization to the police, but they failed to protect him.  On January 19, 2007 an extreme nationalist teenager shot Mr. Dink three times outside the Agos offices in Istanbul, killing him.  Court hearings continue, but Mr. Dink’s family stated that the investigation of his murder was conducted in secrecy and is incomplete.

“Turkish prosecutions under Article 301 increased in 2007 and continued to affect Mr. Dink’s family.  Arat Dink, his son, published an interview in which Mr. Dink said that the 1915 to 1917 Armenian massacres constituted genocide.  Last October Arat Dink received a one year suspended sentence for publishing this interview.  Punishing Mr. Dink’s son for publishing his murdered father’s words is a travesty and exposes the lengths to which Ankara will go to hide the truth about the Armenian Genocide. 

“Mr. Dink’s death was devastating to the democratic principle of a free and unfettered press and to the efforts of a handful of Turkish intellectuals who have been fighting to expose the crimes of Turkey’s Ottoman predecessor.  Denying the Armenian Genocide harms Turkey and imperils the future of this important nation. As the world marks the anniversary of Dink’s murder I reiterate my call for Turkey to honor the memory of Hrant Dink by repealing Article 301, and to acknowledge the truth of the Armenian Genocide.

“Together with his family and colleagues, the Armenian community in Turkey, and his admirers around the world, we remember Hrant Dink, heroic defender of speech and human rights, on the one-year anniversary of his murder.”

Rep. Schiff is a member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, the co-founder of the Democratic Study Group on National Security and a member of the House Appropriations Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committee.  He represents California’s 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.