To the chief justice of (14TH) high criminal court of istanbul file No: 2007/428

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TO THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF (14TH) HIGH CRIMINAL COURT OF ISTANBUL


File No: 2007/428


ATTENDEES :

1) Rahil Dink- Domicile address is included in the file




2) Hasrof Dink- Domicile address is included in the file




3) Delal Dink- Domicile address is included in the file




4) Arat Dink- Domicile address is included in the file




5) Sera Dink- Domicile address is included in the file

ATTORNEYS :

The names, surnames and signatures of attorneys are given below

DEFENDANTS :

1) ERHAN TUNCEL – Under arrest




2) YASİN HAYAL – Under arrest




3) OGÜN SAMAST – Under arrest (pending trial at the 2nd Juvenile High Criminal Court of Istanbul)




4) ZEYNEL ABİDİN YAVUZ




5) ERSİN YOLCU




6) AHMET İSKENDER




7) TUNCAY UZUNDAL




8) SALİH HACISALİHOĞLU




9) VEYSEL TOPRAK




10) OSMAN ALPAY




11) İRFAN ÖZKAN




12) MUSTAFA ÖZTÜRK




13) ŞENOL AKDUMAN




14) NUMAN ŞİŞMAN




15) ALPER ESİRGEMEZ




16) ERBİL SUSAMAN




17) YAŞAR CİHAN




18) HALİS EGEMEN




19) OSMAN HAYAL


20) COŞKUN İĞCİ



PLACE AND DATE OF THE CRIME : Istanbul and Trabzon, 19.01.2007 and the period before

OUR OPINION ON THE MERITS OF THE CASE

- I -

INTRODUCTION
The trial process ongoing for more than four years as well as the various sections of the opinion submitted by the prosecution have undeniably confirmed that our allegation - “the defendants of this case are only the Trabzon leg of the large and professional organization that committed the murder of Hrant Dink” - is not merely an intangible assumption but it points out to the truth.
The process has clearly revealed the roles and responsibilities of all governmental/political actors, from the General Staff to the judicial authorities, from government spokespersons to law enforcement authorities and from the media to paramilitary forces, in the murder of Hrant Dink, in the failure to prevent the murder, and in the failure to identify the actual perpetrators.
The striking harmony between the abovementioned agencies and mechanisms in the preparation and commission of the murder of Dink, in concealing and tampering with the evidence, in covering up the truth, and in drawing the limits and framework of the judicial procedures have all revealed the fact that the process was managed from a single focal point and that there exists a powerful apparatus and mentality which legitimizes the murder and normalizes impunity

However, these undeniable findings, revealed throughout the process, have not been made the subject of an investigation despite the corresponding judgment of the ECHR, the various inquiries conducted by different agencies of the state including the Prime Ministry Inspection Board and the TGNA Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, and despite all the efforts made by the intervening party and the public pressure.

Our opinion on the case was prepared with the purpose of exposing the characteristics of the apparatus mentioned above and how it works, how it is reproduced in similar cases as in this oneas well as exposing the roles, functions and responsibilities of the defendants of this case in the murder.
The text presented here consists of the following chapters: Introduction, Who Was Hrant Dink and Why Was He Killed, the Preliminary Phase Leading to the Murder, the Role and Function of the Media in the Process Leading to the Murder, the Role and Function of the Judiciary in the Process Leading to the Murder, Other Developments in the Process Leading to the Murder, The Investigation Phase, The Prosecution Phase, Law no 4483 on ‘Immunity’, the Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, Issues Related to the Judiciary and the Trial, and Conclusion. Our assessments, especially those presented in the Conclusion section, did benefit from the annexed articles of Prof. Dr. Selim Deringil, Prof. Dr. Cemil Koçak, Prof. Dr. Yasemin İnceoğlu, Dr. Ceren Sözeri and Dr. Ayşe Hür’, and the articles and books of Prof. Dr. Baskın Oran, Prof.Dr. Taner Akçam and Sait Çetinoğlu.

WHO WAS HRANT DİNK AND WHY WAS HE KILLED

Hrant Dink was born in Malatya on September 15, 1954. He moved to Istanbul with his family when he was five years old. After his mother and father were separated, Hrant Dink and his two brothers went to live at the Gedikpasa Armenian Protestant Church Nursery School. The three brothers all attended Incirdibi Primary school, which was run by the same church, in winter time and lived at the Tuzla Armenian Children’s Camp of the school during their summers. Hrant Dink graduated from Bezciyan junior high school and studied at the Surp Hac Tibrevank boarding school.

While studying zoology at Istanbul University’s Faculty of Science, he met and later on married Rakel Yagbasan, originally from the Armenian Varto tribe from Silopi in the Southeast of Turkey. In the same days, he started working for Şınork Kalustyan, the Pattriach of Armenians in Turkey. Having receied his graduate degree from the zoology department, Dink started studying philosophy at Istanbul University.

Concurrently, he was influenced by the left movement unfolding in these days in Turkey. He started to do politics in the lines of Turkey Communist Party/Marxist-Leninist. He was worried that his political engagement could be linked to his Armenian identity and harm the Armenian community living in Turkey, so he changed his name to the Turkish name “Firat” through a court verdict.

Within this period Hrant Dink and his wife Rakel took over the administration of the Tuzla Childrens Camp. When the Tuzla Camp was confiscated by the state, they struggled against this injustice together. In this period, Dink was was taken into custody and arrested three times due to his political views and on various grounds.

In 1980-1990 Dink ran a bookstore with his brothers. In 1990s, he also started writing for the Armenian daily newspaper, "Marmara" under the pseudonym “Çutak” [violin in Armenian] where he wrote reviews of books about Armenian history printed in Turkey which means. In this period he made himself known thanks to the corrections he was sending to newspapers about the false news. He told the Armenian Patriarchate that “the Armenian community is living so introvert, if we better explain ourselves then prejudices will disappear” and took the lead in the foundation of a newspaper in Turkish-Armenian languages.

He assumed the roles of the founder, editor-in-chief and chief columnist for Agos Newspaper which had its first issue circulated on On April 5th 1996.

Apart from Agos, he also wrote columns for Yeni Yüzyıl, Zaman and Birgün daily newspapers. In his articles, he always highlighted that all ethnic communities in Turkey should peacefully live together and advocated that the Armenian community should have a central civic institution apart from the patriarchate. As regards the events of 1915, he called the Armenian Diaspora to take up a softer stance in their struggle which does not include the word genocide. Having attended many conferences in America, Australia, Europe and Armenia, Hrant Dink became known with the new discourse he devised while debating and questioning process on “Armenian Identity and Armenian History”.
Hrant and Rakel Dink had three children.
Dink was the editor-in-chief and the columnist of the AGOS Newspaper.

He was making lots of efforts to turn this newspapers into one of the democractic and dissident voices of Turkey and in particular to share the injustice faced by the Armenian community with the public at large.


One of the main objectives of the newspaper has been to contribute to the creation of a dialogue climate between Turks and Armenians, between Turkey and Armenia.
Dink was also a participant and a member to various democratic platforms and civil society organisations.

If we are to seek an answer to the question “Who was Hrant Dink?” from his own articles, then we can make a small compilation of his following articles:


In his article “This is how I feel” (“Ruh Halimdir”) of 5 June 1998, Hrant Dink wrote as follows;
This is how I feel
I am a citizen of Turkey… I am an Armenian… And I am an Anatolian right down to my bones.

Not for a single day have I contemplated abandoning my country and building my future in the ‘readymade heaven of freedoms’ known as the West, or latching on like a leech to democracies other people have created by paying heavy dues.


My main concern has always been to transform my own country into such a heaven of freedoms.

When my country cried for Sivas massacres, I cried too. When my people fought against criminal gangs, I fought alongside them. I paired my own fate to my country’s quest for its freedom.
As for the rights I can or can’t enjoy, they didn’t come free, I have paid for them, and I continue to do so.

But now…

I have had enough both of the bogus flattery that always speaks of “Our Armenians”, and the kind of provocation that constantly repeats the phrase “The Traitors Amongst Us”. I am sick and fed up of both the exclusion that forces me to forget that I am a normal or regular citizen, and the embrace that almost suffocates me.
***
I neither had the chance to take to the streets for April 24 demonstrations, nor could I light a candle in memory of my ancestors. But I neither abandoned them in those days gone by, nor did I allow them to be petrified in the present.

I shouldered the mission of “making them a living part of my own life”… To the utmost limits of my powers, I carried them high and kept their memory alive. I struggled relentlessly against those who attempted to prevent me from doing so.

It goes without saying that I know the fate my ancestors suffered. Some call it a ‘Massacre’, some ‘Genocide’; some call it ‘Forced Migration’ and others, ‘A Tragedy’.

My ancestors, using the Anatolian phrase for it, called it ‘Slaughter’. I choose to call it ‘Devastation’.

And I know well that if it wasn’t for these devastations, today my country would be much more habitable and enviable place.

This is the reason behind my curse upon those who caused the destruction, and those who acted as pawns of the perpetrators.

Yet my curse is aimed at the past.


I naturally want to find out about everything that went on in history, but that hate, that despicable, disgraceful thing called hatred… I abandon it in its dark cave in history, and add, “May it stay wherever it is, I do not wish to make its acquaintance.”
***
I feel offended when my past, or my present problems are capitalised on in Europe or America. I sense abuse and rape lurking behind all this kissing. I no longer accept the contemptible arbitration of imperialism that strives to drown my future in my past.

Those arbitrators are precisely the dictators who in past centuries pitted slave gladiators against each other in arenas, watched on with great relish as they fought, and eventually gave the thumbs down for the victor to finish off the injured loser.

And therefore I do not accept, in this day and age, for neither a parliament nor a state to assume the position of a judge in this matter.

The real judge is the people and their conscience. And in my conscience, the conscience of no state authority could ever match the conscience of a people.
***
My only wish is to talk freely about our shared past with my beloved friends here in Turkey –in the most comprehensive manner, and without extracting animosity from that past.

I also sincerely believe that the day will come when all Turks and Armenians will find the way to talk about this shared past amongst themselves. And I am counting the days until the time when there won’t be a single topic that Turkey and Armenia can’t comfortably discuss, and no difference they cannot put right; that’s when I will turn to third parties and say, “Well, all that remains for you is… silence.”
***

The Armenians of the world are preparing to commemorate the 90th anniversary of 1915.


And so they should… It is their right. And the lines above represent how I feel… For your kind attention.

In his article “Shall we have a little talk?” (“Biraz Dertleşsek mi?”) of 24 February 2005, he wrote as follows:

Shall we have a little talk?
I am one of the Armenians of Turkey; once a prolific people with a four thousand-year history, now reduced to a community of 50-60 thousand.

Despite my shortcomings, and even venturing beyond my limits a little, with my articles I attempt to leave behind my tiny ‘community pond’, and swim the vast ‘sea of citizenship of Turkey’, and further, into the expanse of the ‘ocean of universality’.

But I know that in the eyes of many of you I don’t exactly succeed in doing that, and appear more to be desperately splashing about within the periphery of my own pond.

And again according to many of you, my articles smack too much of being a member of a ‘Minority’, they are too ‘Armenian’.

There are probably also some among you who see me as an Armenian nationalist.

But I entreat you to try and understand my circumstances.

And if you are unable to, allow me to put it to you in a nutshell:

You might be accurate in your observation, but you should also accept that it was you, the multitude, that forced us toward and confined us within this pond.
***
The following maxim has always been imposed upon us:

You are different, but you are the kind of different that is wrong from birth.”

The mindset that hoped to benefit from deliberately delaying the development of democracy in Turkey has consistently failed to comprehend the wealth that diversity brings. It persisted in seeing it as ‘a burden’.

A minority in Turkey today is neither the minority defined by the Treaty of Lausanne, nor the citizen defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey.”

You may not admire the articles on minorities in the Treaty of Lausanne, and may not want to see any differences of that sort.
These may be considered the most fundamental requirements of a democratic society.

But when you are trying to release a member of a minority from the limits determined by the Treaty of Lausanne, isn’t it necessary to then open up a space for them in your melting pot of ‘citizens of equal status’?
The sad truth is, neither the Treaty of Lausanne, nor any comparable citizenship rights apply in Turkey.
***
In democratic countries, living amidst the majority might be quite enjoyable for a member of a minority.
Yet in the garden of a country where democracy has failed to take root, to live as a member of a minority is like being a thorn amongst flowers of a single colour, or a weed that must be pulled out and cast over the garden wall.
I count myself among those who believe that the experience of living as a member of a minority has its own, unique flavour. If you were to ask us, “What kind of a taste is that?”, my answer is as follows:
If you are free and feel secure –a state of existence that we have never tasted- it must be very sweet. But if you are not, it is awfully bitter. And if you are sometimes free and sometimes not, then it is desperately sour –and that is what we most often experience.”

The taste of being a member of a minority is directly related to the ability of the majority to contribute flavour, rather than people’s capacity to appreciate taste.

In truth, the problem lies not with the minorities, but with the multitude.

***
That is why the struggle of those in my position is a struggle that carries on in spite of you, the majority.

This is not only the case for me, but also for a Kurd, and for others whose identity has been forced into a corner.

And of course, our task under such pressure is not easy.

We must both defend our identity, and simultaneously resist becoming prisoners of that identity.

It is difficult, but we have no other option, and we will succeed.

Yet, if we carried out this struggle not in spite of you, but with your support, with you alongside us, wouldn’t it become much easier?

If only you would give it some thought, just once! If only you would give it a little thought.

In his article “We shall not remain frozen” (“Az Buz Değiliz Biz”) of 22 June 2001, he wrote as follows:
We shall not remain frozen
I believe it is quite well-known how much importance we attach to the dialogue between Turkey and Armenia. In fact, it may have reached the extent that some may have grown weary of the issue. But there will be no weariness from our side, because this dialogue promises endless benefits, and I would like to dedicate this column to another of them. But firstly, allow me to briefly reiterate two advantages that we have referred to time and again.

The first is the contribution to the democratization process of both countries that this dialogue will make. ‘History’ and ‘the present day’ continue to create constantly multiplying problems that hinder the democratization of both countries. It is imperative that they are overcome, and the resources to do this exist on both sides. One should not imagine that Turkey and Armenia will be able to complete the familiar routine process of democratization without first overcoming their historical and current problems related to each other.

The second important benefit is that Turkey serves as Armenia’s window to the West, and Armenia serves as Turkey’s window to the East. If it wants to open up to the West, Armenia has no other option than to open itself up to Turkey; and in the same manner, if it wants to open up to the East, Turkey has no other option than to open itself up to Armenia. Proposed alternatives are merely forced possibilities, and in a way, all amount to wasting a lot of time on long-winded efforts.

Let us now go on to a further benefit of dialogue between Turkey and Armenia that we do not often speak about and ask:

What tangible benefit do we stand to gain as the Armenian community of Turkey from the improvement of relationships between the two countries?”


***
I often liken our situation as a minority in Turkey to a lump of ice that would fit in the palm of my hand, floating in the midst of a vast sea. Indeed, it would seem this is how those who organized the Lausanne Conference must have assessed us; they kept us apart from the water, and set us adrift as a block of ice, abandoning us to our fate.

From that point onwards, it seems both those who released us into the waters in that frozen state, and those who accepted us in the waters as such, kept patting us on the back.

You’re alright,” they all said, “You have the right not to melt. Enjoy every bit of your freedom and keep living in this water.”



You can also understand this icy state of ours as a closed circuit life-style. Amusingly, we have adopted this way of life, since we have never sought an alternative to living like a block of ice. For us, abandoning our icy condition was always tantamount to melting, being assimilated and perishing. Yet this did not stop us melting…

***

So, if a dialogue was established between Turkey and Armenia, would we be redeemed from our frozen state?


Yes, and how…

First of all, we would shake off our fear of melting, and dare to set sail across all the waters of this country, propelled by our own, independent will. The end would then come of those who fooled us thus far into believing that melting would mean disappearance and destruction. The concept of a closed community would be abolished, and in every field, the concept of living in an open society with one’s own identity and colours would develop.

And once those channels connecting to the sea that is Armenia are opened, in the thunderous flow of waters released into Turkey, we too will multiply freely.

It will truly be a sight to behold, when those channels are opened. You will see how each of the cultural, social, commercial and various other agreements between the two countries will enrich the life of the community, and afford it a new lease of life…

And then will be exposed the deceit of our community’s skew-eyed men, who had built a kingdom amongst the blind.

In brief, no longer will the community remain frozen; it will multiply in its own waters.


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