Not many Americans will have heard of Hrant Dink, who was assassinated nine years ago today in Istanbul by a 17-year-old Turkish nationalist named Ogün Samast. I know that I hadn't heard of him before moving to Turkey only one year after he was killed.
But Dink was a renowned Turkish-Armenian journalist, editor of Agos, a bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper (no small feat in Turkish-only Turkey), and advocate for Turkish-Armenian reconilliation. (I wrote about Hrant Dink and his killer Samast last July soon after another young thug murdered nine people in Charleston, South Carolina, both of them for reasons of deep-seated tribal hate, and an embittered sense that it is they who are the real victims.)
Today, thousands marched in Istanbul, as they have every year since Dink's murder (if only he could see this support) in protest of his assassination, and the scandal in its aftermath that the 17-year-old was aligned with powerful men who wanted to see him dead. And his death represents so much. It is a reminder of the extreme danger of even attempting a discussion about the Armenian Genocide in Turkey (or so-called Armenian Genocide, as it is often referred to there). It is a reminder that freedom of the press does not exist in Turkey. And it is reminder that Turks have a long way to go - decades, at least - before accepting the complex truth about their history. On the other hand, with so many thousands marching in support of Hrant Dink today and every January 19, there is hope.