|On January 19, 2007, the journalist Hrant Dink was assassinated in Istanbul.His assassination was the culmination of a decade-long campaign of harassment by the country’s authorities, by the military and by extremist groups. But it triggered an unprecedented upswell of solidarity and pro-democracy activism in Turkey after more than 100 000 attended his funeral.Today, Dink has become an icon of the movement for civil liberties in Turkey and in Europe. His memory serves as a beacon for intellectuals, activists and a wider public to challenge prejudice and intolerant nationalism. Hrant Dink was an Armenian, in a country where Armenians have long lived in fear. He was a journalist, in a country where, more than ever free-thinking journalists are subject to pressures and persecution. And as an advocate of peace, he was reviled by nationalists.
After his death, Dink’s family and friends established a foundation that has since continued and broadened his work in Turkey for civil liberties, for the rights of minorities and for peaceful relations with neighbours, particularly Armenia.
2015 will mark the 10th anniversary of the start of Turkey’s acession negotiations and the Centenary of the start of the Armenian Genocide. The commemoration on January 21 will provide an opportunity to invoke Hrant Dink’s intellectual and political legacy, and to take stock of the situation of the movement for civil rights and tolerance that his assassination helped to start.
Frank Engel, MEP
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Ani Paitjan – email@example.com
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