Amnesty International Condemns Murder of Hrant Dink

Jan 19, 2007, 00:00 ET from Amnesty International USA

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Amnesty International
 deplores the murder today of the prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist
 Hrant Dink. The organization believes that he was targeted because of his
 work as a journalist who championed freedom of expression.
     "This horrifying assassination silences one of Turkey's bravest human
 rights defenders," said Maureen Greenwood-Basken, Amnesty International USA
 (AIUSA) advocacy director for Europe and Central Asia. "Writers put their
 lives on the line when they cover human rights violations, as the cases of
 Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and now Hrant Dink, brutally
     "But legitimate debate about ideas must be protected. The Turkish
 government must redouble its efforts to protect human rights defenders and
 open its political climate to a range of views. Recent legal reforms have
 brought many areas of Turkish law in line with international human rights
 standards, but existing limitations on free speech such as Article 301 must
 be repealed.
     "The U.S. government, as one of Turkey's closest allies, should push
 for a full and transparent investigation into Dink's murder."
     AIUSA is a longstanding advocate of freedom of speech in Turkey and
 around the world. In an online action in October 2006, AIUSA activists sent
 thousands of messages urging repeal of Article 301.
     Dink, editor of the newspaper Agos and contributor to the influential
 daily Zaman, was reportedly shot three times today in Istanbul outside the
 Agos offices. He was 53. Dink was a passionate promoter of the universality
 of human rights who appeared on different platforms with human rights
 activists, journalists and intellectuals across the political spectrum.
 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, Dink also wrote widely on issues of
 democratization and human rights.
     "In Turkey there are still a number of harsh laws which endorse the
 suppression of freedom of speech," said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and
 Central Asia programme director at Amnesty International. "These laws,
 coupled with the persisting official statements by senior government, state
 and military officials condemning critical debate and dissenting opinion,
 create an atmosphere in which violent attacks can take place."
     Last year, Dink was prosecuted for the third time on charges of
 "denigrating Turkishness" under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.
 Amnesty International called for the repeal of that law and condemned his
 prosecution as part of a pattern of judicial harassment against him for
 peacefully expressing his dissenting opinion. Dink had already been given a
 six-month suspended prison sentence in July 2006 following an October 2005
 conviction on charges of "denigrating Turkishness."
     Amnesty International calls on the Turkish authorities to condemn all
 forms of intolerance, to uphold the rights of all citizens of the Turkish
 Republic and to investigate Dink's murder thoroughly and impartially, to
 make the findings of the investigation public and to bring suspected
 perpetrators to justice in accordance with international fair trial
     For further information about Amnesty International's concerns
 regarding Article 301 please see 'Turkey: Article 301: How the law on
 "denigrating Turkishness" is an insult to free expression':
     Contact: Jason Opena Disterhoft of Amnesty International USA,
 +1-202-544-0200, ext. 302

SOURCE Amnesty International USA