PEN Marks First Anniversary of Murder of Armenian-Turkish Journalist
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York, NY, January 18, 2008—PEN, the international association of writers, is supporting the “Hrant Için, Adalet Için” (For Hrant, For Justice) campaign organized by a consortium of Turkish organizations staging events in Istanbul in commemoration of Hrant Dink, the Armenian-Turkish journalist who was shot dead outside his office in Istanbul on January 19, 2007.
Dink, one of the most prominent ethnic Armenians in Turkey, was editor-in-chief of the Armenian-Turkish weekly newspaper Agos, a paper that seeks to provide a voice to the Armenian community and create a dialogue between Turks and Armenians. He was also a well-known commentator on Armenian affairs. In July 2006, Dink was handed a six-month suspended sentence under Article 301 for “insulting Turkishness” after writing an article which called for Armenians to “now turn their attention to the new life offered by an independent Armenia.” A week later, the Istanbul Public Prosecutor opened a new case against Dink for referring to the 1915 massacre of Armenians as a ‘genocide’ during a July 14 interview with Reuters. Dink was awaiting his next trial for these charges at the time of his murder.
The key commemorative event will be held outside the Istanbul office of the magazine Agos at 3 p.m., the hour of his death, on January 19. There will also be other events including arts and cultural shows. A website has been launched in Turkish and English which gives information on the events being staged in Turkey and abroad. For details of the commemorations and to download posters, visit the website: www.hranticinadaleticin.com/en/invite.html
Turkish PEN will be participating in the events, and International PEN’s International Secretary Eugene Schoulgin, Writers in Prison Committee Program Director Sara Whyatt, and English PEN member, writer, journalist, academic and translator Maureen Freely will also be present. The Turkish government is due to present proposed changes to Article 301 of the Turkish penal code in the coming days. The calls for repeal have not been met. Instead the focus will be on the terms, including “insult to Turkishness,” which is likely to be changed to “denigrating the Turkish Nation.” There is also the possibility that penalties under the law will be reduced.
While in Turkey, Schoulgin, Whyatt and Freely will take the opportunity to learn more about the proposed changes to the penal code, meet with writers who are on trial or under threat, and to explore other Turkish legislation under which writers and journalists are tried and convicted in violation of their right to freedom of expression.
Larry Siems, (212) 334-1660 ext. 105