#38, 2009-02-05 | #19, 2009-02-06 | #20, 2009-02-07


Invited by newly formed nonprofit and human rights advocate organization "Friends of Hrant Dink, Inc." Mrs. Rakel Dink, the widow of assassinated journalist Hrant Dink was in Boston to participate in the panel discussion at MIT.

The Armenian International Women’s Association that invited Mrs. Dink last year to its international conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, used this opportunity and organized a conference at Armenian Cultural Foundation in Arlington on Saturday, January 31.

Rakel Dink presented her life. She was born in a village near Syrian and Iranian borders. Her family members lived together and spoke only Kurdish. In 1988, when the earthquake happened in Armenia, her father gathered all the village members and collected money to send to Armenia and then recommended to all of them by saying, "Now take your wives and go to your houses and try to have more babies in order to make up for the loss of the earthquake".

When she moved to Istanbul as a student at a boarding school to learn Turkish and Armenian, there she met Hrant.

She said she was always in audience when Hrant used to give speeches, and now after his assassination, she has taken the podium to continue her husband’s work.

She and her children are continuing the humanitarian work of Hrant Dink and the conversation that he started with the people of Turkey by establishing the International Hrant Dink Foundation. Three days after the assassination, when all the family was seated sadly at home, one of her daughters said, " I am feeling 1915 recurring". To that, Rakel comforted her by saying not to compare with that tragedy because at that time millions were perished and now they have lost only one person, however precious to them.

Then she said his son once wrote, "I did not want to uncover the blanket over my father’s assassinated body in order not to rekindle my emotions of revenge".

"My second daughter said during the funeral, ‘Please stop the bleeding, stop the pain, and stop the hate’".

Mrs. Dink continued by saying that her husband’s death, as painful as it was, brought a strong message to all people of Turkey, people started to talk about events, which were never presented to the public before.

"People that I have never heard of even said that if Hrant Dink would have known that his death would bring more then 100,000 people to the streets of Istanbul chanting ‘we are all Armenians’, he would have wished to be assassinated earlier".

Rakel Dink will continue Hrant Dink’s Humanitarian efforts in Turkey, she devotes herself to teaching of the Armenian history and culture and in 2010, she will organize an event in Europe to focus on tolerance and discrimination.

Two Years Later, Scholars Reflect on Legacy of Slain Journalist

By Thomas C. Nash, Mirror-Spectator Staff

With the second anniversary of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink’s murder renewing attention across the world about his struggle for reconciliation of the two sides of his identity, Turkish and Armenian, his widow and colleagues are continuing their plea for Turks and Armenians to take up the cause.

"In the moment of his death, he was alone," said Armenian Weekly editor Khatchig Mouradian, who served as the moderator for a discussion panel on Dink’s legacy held Sunday at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. "But as we observe the sacrifices and legacy of Hrant Dink — and work for truth freedom and justice everywhere — we will become better versions of ourselves."

The discussion was organized by Friends of Hrant Dink, a newly-created Cambridge-based non-profit group that aims to promote the journalist’s legacy.

Dink, who founded and edited the Agos weekly since 1996 before his murder in January 2007, was remembered by panelists from a range of academic and national backgrounds as both a daring journalist during his lifetime and a unifying figure in death.

More than 400 people from the Boston area Armenian and Turkish communities attended the panel, a display of common interest that many speakers noted as symbolic of the appeal of Dink’s message.

"Ultimately, Hrant Dink’s legacy showed us that neither Armenians nor Turks can claim ownership of him," Mouradian said. "He does not belong to Armenians alone, and he does not belong to Turks alone. He belongs to humanity."

Hrant’s Dream

Harvard Medical School Lecturer Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a long-time activist against genocide and totalitarianism, gave introductory remarks focusing on the search for meaning in the wake of genocide.

"Survivors of the Holocaust are sometimes known as collectors of justice," Lifton said. "I think many Armenians can well understand that stance. It wasn’t a call for revenge so much as a need that those who had perpetrated genocide be brought to some justice or at least acknowledgment of what they had done and the suffering they had caused.

"For that cause and for that reason, the life and work of Hrant Dink … all have great importance for Armenians and Turks, but importance even beyond — for the entire flow of human history."

Speaking in both Turkish and Armenian through a translator, Hrant’s widow Rakel Dink spoke of the life of persecution she and Hrant endured=20 as Armenians in Turkey — and the threats that came when Hrant founded Agos.

In addition to constant threats for his acknowledgment of the Genocide and calls for increased dialogue between Turks and Armenians, Dink faced prosecution under the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal code, which forbade insulting Turkishness.

More than 100,000 demonstrated in solidarity with Dink following his murder by a young Turkish nationalist.

Rakel Dink recalled the aftermath of her husband’s death, and the reaction of her children.

"My daughter, she said, ‘Mother, I feel as if I am in 1915.’ I’m a mother, and I’m a believer. I was going through the same pain she was going through," Dink said. "But I had to ask her not to compare (the murder) with 1915. We were living in the comfort of our home, we were sitting on our sofa and we had friends supporting us. In 1915, people did not have everything that we have today. "We do not need to give in to hatred," she added. "We really do not need to return to the murder."

Striking on a theme running throughout the event, Dink also noted that the election of Barack Obama to the presidency holds symbolic meaning for her.

"The dream of Martin Luther King was realized years later," she said. "And it is our hope that one day in Turkey all people, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, will enjoy equal rights, justice and freedom. This is Hrant’s dream."

Facing History

Speaking in his new role as a senior manager for educational non-profit Facing History and Ourselves, former Anti-Defamation League New England Executive Director Andrew Tarsy stressed the role of the Boston-area Jewish community in supporting his battle with the national ADL over Genocide recognition.

Tarsy left his position at the ADL in late 2007 after being fired and later re-hired as the organization received criticism for its lack of recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

"I was extremely gratified at the time to know that the entire Jewish community of Greater Boston stood unanimously with me," he said, "and for those of you who didn’t know that then it’s important you know that now."

Through Tarsy’s new position, he said he has worked to ensure the Armenian Genocide is taught to 1.8 million students around the world.

Oktay Ozel, a history professor at Ankara’s Bilkent University working as a visiting scholar at Harvard, said Dink’s writing inspired him to encourage other scholars to look more closely at the Armenian Genocide — a plea, which he said, may gain traction in the wake of Dink’s death.

"For us historians, along with this sense of guilt, I think the bitter legacy of Hrant’s death is that historians should do better," Ozel said. They will feel much better when they do (their job) with a little decency. Then they won’t need to do anything extraordinary – just do their job properly. That’s the job in front of historians in Turkey."

Peter Balakian, an English professor at Colgate University who wrote the bestseller Black Dog of Fate about his quest to find the meaning in his ancestral roots, spoke of both the discouraging circumstances surrounding Dink’s death and the hope that the aftermath could create a new relationship between the historically feuding Armenian and Turkish communities both at home and abroad.

"The outpouring of commemoration around the world for Hrant Dink became an opening to something new. In the two years since his death commemorative events have created civic spaces where some gurglings of Armenian memory and history have erupted and certainly a dialogue about the absences of democracy in Turkey are taking place," Balakian said.

"Armenians need to embrace that sense of complexity of a possibility for a shared history, certainly for a shared humanity and a deeper understanding. I think it’s important for Turks and Armenians to de-ethnicize the past. The idea that this is somehow a debate between two cultures is a-historical."

Following the discussion, organizers from Friends of Hrant Dink presented Rakel Dink with $10,000 for her efforts to continue his work — which she began just after he was killed.

"She has so much wisdom," said Armenian International Women’s Association member Barbara Merguerian of Dink’s work. "I feel that’s there’s a new breath of air."

© AZG Daily & MV, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 ver. 1.4