Still no justice for murdered journalist Hrant Dink

On the second anniversary of the murder of journalist and human rights defender Hrant Dink, the Turkish authorities are still nowhere near bringing to justice those responsible.

Hrant Dink, a Turkish citizen of Armenian decent, was killed on 19 January 2007. The editor of the Agos newspaper and contributor to the influential daily Zaman, he was shot outside the Agos offices in Istanbul.

He was best known for his willingness to debate openly and critically issues of Armenian identity and official versions of history in Turkey relating to the massacres of Armenians in 1915. A passionate defender of human rights, he appeared on different platforms with activists, journalists and intellectuals across the political spectrum. Prior to his death, he was repeatedly prosecuted for expressing his non-violent opinions.

“Hrant Dink was murdered for the expression of his non-violent opinions, apparently with the tacit agreement of elements within the Turkish law enforcement agencies,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

Twenty suspects accused of planning and carrying out the murder have been brought to trial. One of those on trial in connection with his death had also acted as a police informer and had repeatedly told police of the plan to assassinate Hrant Dink in the months leading up to his death.

In a separate investigation, eight members of the Gendarmerie face charges of “dereliction of duty” after failing to act on warnings that Hrant Dink was being targeted for assassination.

One of the eight, Trabzon District Gendarmerie Commander, Ali Öz, is accused of failing to pass on information of the plot against Hrant Dink and of preventing evidence being revealed after the murder. Hrant Dink had been receiving death threats for several months prior to his death. However, no police officers have yet been prosecuted.

Reporting in July 2008, the Turkish Parliamentary Human Rights Commission found that there was negligence and lack of coordination on the part of the security services in failing to prevent the murder.

Leaked details of the Inspectorate of the Prime Ministry’s report into the role of the security forces in the murder of Hrant Dink is reportedly to have revealed that police officers at both the Trabzon and Istanbul Security Directorates failed in their duty to protect Hrant Dink although they had information about the planned murder.

“The authorities should make public the report by the Inspectorate of the Prime Ministry,” Nicola Duckworth said.

“There is now a wealth of evidence upon which the judicial authorities must act. An investigation should be re-opened so that all implicated members of the police forces and gendarmerie are brought to justice.”