OTTAWA–Arat Dink, the editor of Istanbul-based “Agos” weekly and the son of assassinated Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, and three of his colleagues at weekly have been charged with “denigrating Turkishness,” according to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The three other journalists charged with Dink are Serkis Seropyan, Aydin Engin and Karin Karakashli. Dink’s father was gunned down by a Turkish utranationalist outside the "Agos" offices on 19 January.
The Istanbul persecutor office has charged the “Agos” staff for publishing, on July 2006, an interview with the Reuters news agency, in which the late Hrant Dink had referred to the 1915 Armenian Genocide. The Dink’s family lawyer, Erdal Dogal, has also been charged.
During last Thursday’s hearing the Turkish prosecutors called for a prison sentence of up to three years for Arat Dink. According to the Anatolia News Agency, Arat Dink accused judges of contributing to his father’s death by making him a target, thanks to their high-profile judicial proceedings. Dink is reported to have also said: "I think it is primitive, absurd and dangerous to consider as an insult to Turkish identity the recognition of a historic event as a genocide."
Reporters Without Borders has condemned the decision to prosecute Dink and his colleagues. “Once again we have to denounce the use of article 301 of the criminal code, which is a threat to freedom of expression,” said Reporters Without Borders.
“We call on the Canadian Government and the international community to declare Turkey a pariah nation and to take serious measures to force Turkey to acknowledge its predecessors’ crimes against humanity," said Aris Babikian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC). "Canada, the United Nations, the European Union, and other international organizations and fora should stop treating Turkey with kid gloves and should hold Turkey accountable.
“Furthermore, Article 301 is an impediment to freedom of expression. It is intended to silence dissidents who dare to challenge the official line of the Turkish Government on the Armenian Genocide. The civilized world can not become an accomplice to Genocide denial and in fomenting intolerance, hatred and xenophobia,” said Babikian.
The ANCC executive director concluded his commen’s by drawing to the attention of politicians, the media and the public that the charges against “Agos" journalists are a "clear manifestation that the Turkish Government is not sincere in its so-called offers of dialogue and reconciliation with the Armenian people. These political maneuverings are nothing more than public relations stunts and diversions to avoid addressing the real issue between the two nations.”
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues.