In praise of ... Arat Dink
Since it was introduced three years ago, article 301 of Turkey's penal code, which makes insulting Turkishness a criminal offence, has been used to bring charges against illustrious names in literature, academia and journalism: Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel prize-winning author; Noam Chomsky; the novelist Elif Safak; Hrant Dink, the Armenian-Turkish journalist who was assassinated by radical nationalists; and last year Hrant's son Arat. On Monday night Arat received the Guardian Journalism Award from the campaigning group Index on Censorship. It was not just to commemorate his father's work, but for his own brave refusal to buckle under the censorship laws that led to his father's death. Arat, executive director of Agos, an Armenian newspaper in Istanbul, was brought to trial as a co-defendant, along with Serkis Seropyan, holder of the weekly's publishing licence. Their crime was to have republished an interview that Hrant gave to Reuters in which he referred to the 1915 massacre of the Armenians in the Ottoman empire as genocide. Arat was convicted as charged and given a one-year suspended sentence. The Agos staff continue to be threatened by extreme nationalists but remain determined in the face of bigotry and physical threat. Arat Dink believes both Turks and Armenians are postponing a common historical reckoning and looks forward to the day when both peoples can commemorate the events in 1915 as a common part of their history, without threatening each other's identity. Like father, like son.