Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tens of Thousands Mark Journalist's Death

Tens of thousands of protesters marked the fifth anniversary of a Turkish-Armenian journalist's murder on Thursday as outrage continues to grow over a trial that failed to shed light on alleged official negligence or even collusion.

Human rights activists placed red carnations on the spot in Istanbul where Hrant Dink was gunned down in broad daylight outside of his minority Agos newspaper office by a nationalist teenage gunman.

The case highlights Turkey's uneasy relationship with its ethnic and religious minorities, including at least 60,000 Armenian Christians. Many people carried black banners that read: "We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian," and some chanted "Turkey will be a grave for fascism."

Tens of thousands marched for justice, a call shared by Turkish leaders and leading businessmen who expressed unease over this week's sentencing of one man, Yasin Hayal, to life in prison for masterminding the killing, while another 17 were acquitted of charges of acting under a terrorist organization's orders. The court neglected to issue a verdict about a 19th suspect.

"The verdict is tragic and is weighing heavily on the conscience of everyone in Turkey," Rober Koptas, Dink's son-in-law and editor-in-chief of Agos, told AP television in an interview.

The gunman, Ogun Samast, was sentenced to nearly 23 years in prison in July by a separate juvenile court.

Umit Boyner, the head of Turkey's influential industrialists' association TUSIAD, said the court's decision had "shocked" the public.

"What we solidly see in this trial process is that the belief in justice has been shaken and weaknesses in our justice system have been revealed," he said.

No comments: