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On last May 29, the Hrant Dink Foun­da­tion pub­lished a dec­la­ra­tion to the media stat­ing that Rakel Dink, wife of jour­nal­ist Hrant Dink and the lawyers for the Foun­da­tion had received death threats by email, on May 27 and 28. The Foun­da­tion indi­cat­ed it had informed the Secu­ri­ty Direc­torate of the dis­trict of Istan­bul of these threats, as well as the Gov­er­nor’s office. 

The threat we received read: “We may turn up one night, when you least expect it”. The same words were used at the time of Hrant Dink’s mur­der in cer­tain cir­cles that bragged about the pub­lic killing on Jan­u­ary 19 2007, and offi­cials are aware of this. The email accus­es the Hrant Dink Foun­da­tion of  “invent­ing tales of broth­er­hood”, demand that we leave the coun­try and threat­en with death Rakel Dink and the Foun­da­tion’s lawyer. 

The Min­is­ter of the Inte­ri­or, Süley­man Soy­lu issued a brief dec­la­ra­tion on his Twit­ter account on May 30, announc­ing that the sus­pect who had sent the threat­en­ing emails had been iden­ti­fied and arrest­ed. “We won’t allow provo­ca­tion. Trust the Turk­ish police”, he declared. Indeed, lat­er in the day, he announced that the pre­sumed author of the threats, H.A. a 25 year old man, had been placed in deten­tion in Selçuk,  in Konya province. The sus­pect was then trans­ferred to Istan­bul and arrest­ed for “repeat­ed threats through anony­mous letters.”

Hrant Dink

But the issue is far from set­tled. Today, Fethiye Çetin, a lawyer for the Hrant Dink Foun­da­tion spoke to Bianet about the death threats against the Foun­da­tion and Rakel Dink. For anoth­er threat­en­ing mes­sage was sent to the Foun­da­tion dur­ing the night of May 31. Fethiye Çetin wished to clar­i­fy that, con­trary to the State author­i­ties’ dec­la­ra­tions, the threat­en­ing mes­sages sent to the Foun­da­tion were not iso­lat­ed inci­dents. An inten­si­fi­ca­tion of attacks and threats can be observed. As for the con­tent of the mes­sages, they are sim­i­lar, and that much more wor­ri­some, as those pre­ced­ing Hrant Dink’s assas­si­na­tion. Fethiye Çetin stress­es the cur­rent polar­ized mood in Turkey: “The con­text and the con­di­tions under which we live are praci­cal­ly the same as those pri­or to the mur­der”, and she spec­i­fies the sim­i­lar­i­ties with the peri­od before the assas­si­na­tion, “on the day the aggres­sor was arrest­ed, before he was even tras­ferred to Istan­bul where the inquest is being held, the author­i­ties declared “there are no iden­ti­fied links with an orga­ni­za­tion”. This is sim­i­lar to Celalet­tin Cer­rah’s dec­la­ra­tion, the Direc­tor of Secu­ri­ty at the time, when he spoke short­ly after Hrant Dink’s assas­si­na­tion and declared “there is no orga­ni­za­tion involved.”

Fethiye Çetin con­tin­ues: “These dec­la­ra­tions serve no oth­er pur­pose than to close the inquest. The sus­pec­t’s act is nei­ther iso­lat­ed nor indi­vid­ual”. This lat­est threat using the words ” We may turn up one night, when you least expect it” were also used when Hrant Dink was shot down in front of his office at the Agos news­pa­per on Jan­u­ary 19 2007.

Fethiye Çetin draws atten­tion to the aggres­sors’ polit­i­cal lean­ings: “When we exam­ine close­ly the lan­guage, style and aims of the emails, along with the mes­sages the sus­pect post­ed on social media, we note things in com­mon with a par­tic­u­lar group. The slo­gans, sym­bols and pseu­do­nyms used by this group are always the same. The entire cor­re­spon­dence and mes­sages of the sus­pect must be the object of a thor­ough inquest.”

Hrant Dink

In Turkey, nation­al­ism as a pre­vi­ous­ly exist­ing fac­to­ry for fab­ri­cat­ing ene­mies has been func­tion­ing full speed under the Erdo­gan regime… Media at the regime’s ser­vice rain down the notion of inte­ri­or ene­mies: Kurds, Arme­ni­ans and oth­ers… The word “Armen­ian” has become an insult draw­ing its roots in Turk­ish his­to­ry, and is now used and abused to counter all crit­i­cism of the nation-State or of Turci­ty. The inter­na­tion­al con­text and cur­rent  news also must be tak­en into account, with Arme­nia and Azer­baïd­jan fac­ing off. Out of big­otry and hos­til­i­ty toward Arme­ni­ans, the pro-regime forces in Turkey sup­port Azer­baïd­jan. This brings the Karabagh region into play…

More­over, if the news report­ed in the press are to be trust­ed and this empha­sis on an Azer­ba­jani girl­friend is not mere­ly an attempt to turn this into a Tabloid issue, it must be inves­ti­gat­ed in fur­ther detail, this girl­friend must be found and the inves­ti­ga­tion extend­ed accord­ing­ly. The Azer­bai­jani girl­friend may well have influ­enced the sus­pect on the issue of Karabakh, but what do the Hrant Dink Foun­da­tion, Rakel Dink and attor­neys have to do with Karabakh?”

She insists again on the non-iso­lat­ed nature of the threats and on the unbreath­able atmos­phere of nation­al­ism: “A new threat­en­ing email was sent to the Foun­da­tion last night. Attack­ers have found their courage in the increas­ing­ly polar­iz­ing, mar­gin­al­iz­ing and divi­sive hate speech­es and from the impuni­ty for them, which has almost become a norm at this point. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the state­ments by pow­er-hold­ers have also been fuelling such attacks and hate speech­es. These attacks are just a reflec­tion of the lan­guage of hatred used by politi­cians. For they encour­age attack­ers and give them the impres­sion that “the State will pro­tect us, we will get away with it.” The shield of impuni­ty has almost become the norm at this point. This con­text and the envi­ron­ment in which we live are so filled with racism and hatred that it makes it hard to breathe.”

Fethiye Çetin fur­ther says: “Turk­ish soci­ety can­not put up with these attacks. Our his­to­ry is full of great sor­rows and crimes. Only when we face these sor­rows can we begin to free our­selves from them, only then can we heal. It will be hard, it will be painful, but if we don’t do it, we – as a soci­ety – will be dri­ven to collapse.”

She calls on the author­i­ties “to change their lan­guage and their tone, to open roads to dia­logue and to aban­don all behav­ior encour­ag­ing aggres­sors and pro­vid­ing them with impunity.”

How­ev­er we think Fethiye Çetin is still well below the min­i­mal con­di­tions required for a true exit from the cycles of vio­lence and of nation­al­ism per­ma­nent­ly afflict­ing Turkey. Good will can­not emerge from the pur­suit of con­fronta­tions, be they exter­nal inva­sions such as in Syr­ia, or open sup­port to oth­er equal­ly nation­al­is­tic regimes, or in depend­ing on  the con­stant des­ig­na­tion of domes­tic ene­mies as a means for sur­vival. A cen­tu­ry of exclu­sive Turci­ty will not dis­ap­pear overnight.

A Turk­ish Repub­lic that glo­ries in a fan­ta­sized “eth­nic unic­i­ty” and a State reli­gion is noth­ing but a nation­al­ist avatar in the name of which are com­mit­ted wars and the worst of crimes. This has been Turkey’s his­to­ry and  nation­al nar­ra­tive for a cen­tu­ry, built more­over on a sup­pressed geno­cide that has tak­en on a qua­si-foun­da­tion­al impor­tance. Such a soci­ety and repub­lic can only be a prey to such demons that keep it from mov­ing forward.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.