26 January 2015
January 23, 2015 - On January 21 the European Parliament hosted a commemoration to honour Hrant Dink, an Armenian journalist from Turkey, who was assassinated 8 years ago. Hrant Dink has become an icon of the movement for civil liberties in Turkey on account of his contribution to the struggle for freedom of expression and the defense of minorities.
The event was organized jointly by Frank Engel MEP (EPP group), the Armenian organization AGBU Europe, the anti-racist network EGAM and Turkish advocacy group DurDe! It followed the commemoration that gathered tens of thousands of people in Istanbul , on 19 January. Other ceremonies have also been organized in various European countries.
At the event, Rakel Dink spoke emotionally of her husband and of their common struggle for a fairer society. She referred to the centenary of the Armenian genocide and quoted an article by the assassinated journalist: «the time has come for April 24 to be commemorated on this land, on which we shall collectively remember all of those people and wish peace upon their souls. It will be a day when pain shared gives rise to multitudes of joy; that day shall not only soothe the pain of the Armenian people, but will also be the very spirit of the democratization of Turkey”.Rakel Dink ended with an open invitation to join in the commemorations in Istanbul on April 24.
Frank Engel, MEP recalled that the event honoured “a man who defended peace between nations and freedom of speech. But he was also a model of citizenship, of civic involvement.” For EP Vice-President Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, furthermore, “freedom of expression is the courage to publish things that don’t please the authorities. […] He was courageous [...] Hrant Dink represents many values that are cherished by the European Union”.
For Yervant Zorian, member of the Central Board of AGBU,“historically, the Armenian people have endured oppression (…) It is a disseminated population all around the world that lives together with other nationalities. Armenians have learned to live in tolerance with other cultures. In that sens, particularly, Hrant Dink is Armenian and represents a symbol for this population.” An idea to which Levent Sensever, Leader in the anti-racist group DurDe! added that «Hrant Dink was an example for the Turks and for the rest of the world to follow.”
Benjamin Abtan, President of EGAM, drew a parallel between the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo and the assassination of Dink: “What happened was horrible. How not to be afraid when terrorists are targetting you? That is a normal feeling. […] But truth is more important. Even though Hrant is not with us anymore, his message remains: go on fighting for the truth, for the Armenian heritage especially, and raise awareness of the value of the diversity of identities.”