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Tens Of Thousands Protest Turkey Court Decision In Journalist Killing

Tens of thousands took to the streets of Istanbul to protest a court decision not to widen the investigation into the murder of a Turkish-Armenian journalist five years ago. The court assigned guilt to several nationalists deemed responsible for the killing of Hrant Dink, but decided the prosecution did not present enough evidence that there was an illegal organization behind the murder. The investigation shied away from exploring the suspected role of some nationalist police and military officials.

Dink, the editor of a Turkish-Armenian newspaper, wrote critically about Turkey’s treatment of its Armenian ethnic minority, and particularly about the killing of more than 1 million Armenians by the Ottoman army in 1915 which he and others considered genocide, a term that is hotly contested. The advocacy group Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) research demonstrated widespread nationalist threats leading up to Dink’s murder on the front steps of his paper.

The protests were the largest in Turkey in years. Some held aloft signs in Turkish and Armenian that said, “We are all Hrant. We are all Armenian.” Here’s a photo of an Istanbul neighborhood from the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet:

The Paris-based journalism advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said the decision was “absolutely scandalous.” Nina Ognianova, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator, said:

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Justice for our colleague Hrant Dink will not be achieved until the commissioners of his slaying five years ago are tried and punished to the full extent of the law. We stand in solidarity with Dink’s family, colleagues, and friends in calling for a thorough and transparent investigation into the suspected involvement of military and security service officials in this brutal crime.

Turkish president Abdullah Gül and other members of the ruling AK Party expressed disappointment with the ruling: “The conclusion of this case in transparency and fairness in line with our legislation is an important test for us,” Gül reportedly said. Some, however, doubted the sincerity of the nationalist government.