Turkey: Murder of journalist deplored

Amnesty International deplores the murder in Turkey today of prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

The organisation believes that he was targeted because of his work as a journalist who championed freedom of expression.

Hrant Dink, editor of the newspaper Agos and contributor to the influential daily Zaman, was reportedly shot three times earlier today in Istanbul outside the Agos offices. Mr Dink, 53, 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 democratisation and human rights.

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Programme Director Nicola Duckworth said:

"In Turkey there are still a number of harsh laws which endorse the suppression of freedom of speech.

“These laws, coupled with persistent 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, Hrant 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. Mr 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 the murder of Hrant Dink thoroughly and impartially, to make the findings of the investigation public - and to bring suspected perpetrators to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards.

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