Showing appreciation

Several hundred people filled the Nazareth and Sima Kalaydjian Hall on Friday at the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church to commemorate the first anniversary of the assassination of journalist and editor Hrant Dink.

Dink, 53, was fatally shot in Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007, outside the bilingual Armenian and Turkish newspaper Agos, where he served as editor. Agos is considered one of the foremost voices for Turkey’s Armenian population.

The program Friday opened with a slide presentation showing snapshots of Dink’s life, including several trips to the United States and a shot of him cradling the Henri Nannen Prize for the Freedom of the Press.

In some of the photos, Dink was posing in the same room where mourners celebrated his memory Friday.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe reporter Stephen Kurkjian, who traveled to Turkey for Dink’s funeral in January 2007, painted a picture of the scene in Istanbul after the editor’s death, where Armenians and non-Armenians alike “came out of nowhere” to celebrate his memory.

“The blood was still evident on the ground outside his office,” Kurkjian said.

“And they were crying out in their tears and their grief, ‘We’re all Hrant; we’re all Armenian.’”

Nancy Kolligian, president of the National Assn. for Armenian Studies and Research, called Dink a man who understood the power of the written word, harnessing “brilliant jewels of thought” continue to affect Turkey.

“His courage to express his words for Turkey to advance true democracy ultimately cost him his life,” she said.

“However, his accomplishments outweigh his defeats.”

During his life, Dink faced constant threats and intimidation in his home in Turkey.

He advocated protecting human rights and fostering dialogue and reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.

Dink’s assassination came two and a half 2 1/2 months after visiting Glendale in November 2006, during a nationwide speaking tour.

Glendale city officials — including Police Chief Randy Adams, Officer John Balian, Mayor Ara Najarian and former Councilman Rafi Manoukian — met with Dink during his visit, discussing crime and politics as Senior Assistant City Atty. Lucy Varpetian served as a translator.

Dink said he was interested in the life of Armenians in America and that Armenians in Glendale, which has the largest population of Armenians in the United States, is an often-discussed topic abroad.

Dink first rose to the international stage in October 2005, when the Turkish government convicted him on charges of inciting racial hatred and insulting Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, in an article about the Armenian genocide.

A court sentenced him to six months in jail but postponed the sentence, ordering him to serve the time only if he was found guilty on the charge a second time.

Dink was awaiting a second trial at the time of his death.

Turkish police say nationalist militant Yasin Hayal confessed to helping coordinate Dink’s murder and recruited the alleged gunman, Ogun Samast, 17, according to reports.


 CHRIS WIEBE covers public safety and the courts in Glendale. He may be reached at (818) 637- 3232 or by e-mail at chris.wiebe@ latimes.com.

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