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Monday, January 19, 2015

Clashes in Ankara as Turkey Remembers Murder of Armenian Journalist

Riot police using water cannon on protesters in Ankara
Istanbul (AFP) - Turkish police on Monday used pepper spray and water cannon to disperse a protest in Ankara calling for justice over the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was shot dead in broad daylight outside his offices eight years ago.

Thousands of people had marched though central Istanbul earlier on Monday in a peaceful demonstration to remember Turkey's most notorious killing of recent years that sent shockwaves around the country.


However police moved in to disperse a smaller rally in central Ankara in the evening as the protestors sought to march on the justice ministry.

Twenty people were arrested as police used pepper spray and water cannon to disperse the protest, the CNN-Turk television channel and Radikal news site reported.

Holding signs in Turkish, Armenian and English reading "Justice for Hrant", protesters in Istanbul had earlier rallied around the offices of the Agos newspaper, a bilingual Turkish and Armenian weekly, which he edited.

The Istanbul memorial rally is an annual event but was considerably larger than in previous years.

A man holds a poster depicting slain journalist Hrant Dink and reading
"Despite fascism, Hrant
Meanwhile, a young man brandished a gun at a rally for Dink in the central city of Malatya -- where the journalist was born -- but was rapidly arrested by police.

- Centenary of disputed genocide -

Dink, 52, was shot dead with two bullets to the head in broad daylight outside the offices of Agos on January 19, 2007.

Ogun Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail in 2011.

But the murder grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that the security forces knew of a plot to kill Dink, but failed to act.

People hold a banner reading ("From 1915 to Hrant, genocide continues")
during a march in Istanbul
A court on Monday remanded in custody Ercan Demir, who was police intelligence chief of the Black Sea Trabzon region where the gunman and his suspected accomplices came from, on charges of failing to act on intelligence that could have prevented the murder.

Demir had been controversially named police chief of the southeastern Sirnak province but an arrest warrant was issued for him last week and he turned himself into the police in Ankara.

Turkey had on Tuesday arrested two lower ranking policeman on charges of negligence for failing to prevent the murder.

Dink, a major figure in Turkey's tiny but prominent Armenian community, has long pushed for a reconciliation between Turks and Armenians after decades of bitterness.

Armenians accuse Ottoman forces (Muslims) during World War I of carrying out a genocide against their forebears that left an estimated 1.5 million people (Christians) dead. But modern Turkey has always vehemently resisted terming the mass killings as genocide. What was it then, herd reduction?

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the tragedy and the date appeared to give the Dink memorial march additional impetus.

Some at the Istanbul protest held banners referring to the events such as "become conscious of the genocide along with Hrant Dink". Others held cards reading: "We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenians."

Less than 10 percent of Turks believe their government should recognise the mass killings of Armenians in World War I as genocide, according to a survey published on Tuesday.

Supporters of Dink's family have long feared that those behind the murder were protected by the state and have asked for a deeper investigation. 

Like that's going to happen while Erdogan is increasing his grip on the Turks. I wonder if Erdogan plans to set up a caliphate in Turkey with himself as Caliph. That's about the only thing big enough to appease his ever-swelling ego.