Turkey on trial

BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images Monday marked the start of the murder trial of Hrant Dink, the editor of a Turkish-Armenian newspaper who was shot in broad daylight outside his Istanbul office in January. Dink’s writings on the Armenian genocide had made him a target for both the Turkish government and ultra-nationalist groups. His assassination by an ...

600816_070703_dink_05.jpg
600816_070703_dink_05.jpg

BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

Monday marked the start of the murder trial of Hrant Dink, the editor of a Turkish-Armenian newspaper who was shot in broad daylight outside his Istanbul office in January.

Dink's writings on the Armenian genocide had made him a target for both the Turkish government and ultra-nationalist groups. His assassination by an angry 17-year-old six months ago sparked something remarkable in the Turkish public: Thousands gathered to express solidarity with the Armenian minority and outrage against restrictions on free speech and growing ultra-nationalist sentiment. And for a fleeting second, the government seemed dedicated to real reform and perhaps even the eventual abolishment of Article 301, which was used to try to silence Dink and other famed writers such as Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak for allegedly "insulting Turkishness."

BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

Monday marked the start of the murder trial of Hrant Dink, the editor of a Turkish-Armenian newspaper who was shot in broad daylight outside his Istanbul office in January.

Dink’s writings on the Armenian genocide had made him a target for both the Turkish government and ultra-nationalist groups. His assassination by an angry 17-year-old six months ago sparked something remarkable in the Turkish public: Thousands gathered to express solidarity with the Armenian minority and outrage against restrictions on free speech and growing ultra-nationalist sentiment. And for a fleeting second, the government seemed dedicated to real reform and perhaps even the eventual abolishment of Article 301, which was used to try to silence Dink and other famed writers such as Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak for allegedly “insulting Turkishness.”

But when it finally comes time for justice to be served for Dink, things get messy. The trial, which will take place behind closed doors since the main defendant is a minor, is already attracting heavy scrutiny. Human Rights Watch warned recently that evidence presented at the trial may raise questions about possible collusion or negligence on the part of security forces. The real test for the Turkish judiciary will be if it can adequately prosecute all those involved—even if this means lifting the huge rock off some dirty internal dealings. In an article in the New York Times, Fethiye Cetin, the Dink family’s lawyer, expressed his concern:

The gang does not consist of these suspects only,” Ms. Cetin said of the 18 defendants, according to the news agency. “It is far more planned and organized. There is almost an intentional misconduct of the gendarmerie and police in this incident.”

Ensuring that all those involved in Dink’s murder are exposed and punished is essential not just for his family, but for Turkey as a country. I’m pretty sure the folks in Brussels will be following this case closely. After all, the last thing Turkey needs is another excuse for Europe to slam the door shut on Turkish membership.

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