By BARIN KAYAOĞLU
January 21, 2011
Four years have passed since the assassination of the Armenian Turkish journalist Hrant Dink. Those who ordered his death have not been caught yet.
One of the most important reasons why the real culprits remain at large is the lack of public sensitivity over Dink’s death. Many people in Turkey still believe that Dink had called Turkish blood “poisonous and dirty.” Some others still question why those who are so sensitive about Dink’s death are indifferent (!) to the death of Turkish diplomats at the hands of Armenian terrorists in the 1970s and 1980s or to the Turkish soldiers martyred at the hands of the PKK.
People in Turkey need to keep several things in mind. First and foremost, Hrant Dink never said anything to the order of “Turkish blood is poisonous and dirty.” In his article of February 13, 2004, Dink had called upon Armenians all around the world to rid themselves from the poisonous notion of “The Turk” and rebuild Armenian identity in a constructive way.
Another point that needs to be borne in mind is how mistaken it would be to compare Dink’s murder with those of fallen Turkish diplomats and soldiers. Hrant Dink, who loved Turkey as much as anyone and was killed for trying to restore peace and understanding between Turks and Armenians, is not the opposite of the slain diplomats and soldiers. On the contrary, he will go down to the pages of history together with those heroes – and for the same reason: Diplomats work to protect the interests of their countries. Soldiers defend their countries. Intellectuals such as Hrant Dink strive to improve their countries and humanity in general.
And we should remember the most important point about Dink’s death: If we, as the people of Turkey, fail to bring to account those who stole from us as fond and peace-loving public intellectual as Hrant Dink (as we failed to bring to account those responsible for the deaths of Uğur Mumcu, Musa Anter, Çetin Emeç, İlhan Erdost, Ahmet Taner Kışlalı, Abdi İpekçi and countless others), we’re doomed to lose a lot more of our thinkers. That will turn cultural life in Turkey into a shallow and colorless desert. That will sever one of Turkey’s main lifelines.
Barın Kayaoğlu is a Ph.D. candidate in history at The University of Virginia. He welcomes all comments, questions, and exchanges. To contact him, click here.