Event commemorating Hrant Dink held in Sweden

On January 19, Stockholm’s ABF Center hosted an event commemorating the 10th death anniversary of Istanbul-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of Sweden and the Coordinating Center for Armenian Associations of Sweden Arshak Gavafian provided details in an interview with Hayern Aysor.

According to Gavafian, right after Hrant Dink was murdered in January 2007, the Coordinating Center held a protest at the square in central Stockholm, gathering members of the federations of Assyrians, Kurds and Greeks and Swedish organizations. In the years that followed, the Swedish Committee on Human Rights Affairs in Turkey organized commemorative events in Sweden, and the Coordinating Center also actively participated in those events.

Since this year marked the tenth anniversary of the murder of Hrant Dink, the Coordinating Center decided to participate in the commemorative event with a presentable team. Among the participants from the Swedish-Armenian community were Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to Sweden Artak Apitonyan; Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of Sweden and President of the Coordinating Center for Armenian Associations of Sweden Arshak Gavafian; Spokesman and former president of the Coordinating Center for Armenian Associations of Sweden, genocide scholar Vahagn Avetyan, as well as Patriarchal Delegate of the Patriarchal Delegation in Central Europe and Sweden, pastor of the Armenian community, Fr. Archimandrite Yeghishe Avetisyan.

In his speech, RA Ambassador to Sweden Artak Apitonyan touched upon Dink’s legacy and stated that Hrant Dink was one of the exceptional figures in Turkey who openly talked about the need for the expansion of dialogue between the neighboring nations and was one of the first who dared to speak about the Armenian Genocide with the certainty that the two nations can overcome the consequences of the Genocide through combined efforts.

According to the Ambassador, ten years after Dink’s murder, many are inspired by his example and are continuing the struggle for democracy, the equality of all national minorities and human rights protection in Turkey.

Arshak Gavafian talked about the motives behind Dink’s murder, stressing the fact that the interior political situation in Turkey has become more chaotic a decade after the journalist’s murder and added that such murders make wild and dictatorial organizations or people show such an approach, meaning they physically eliminate people who don’t share their ideologies, if they can’t win them.

At the end, the speaker touched upon Turkish-Armenian Member of Parliament Garo Paylan and reminded that he is being strongly scorned and persecuted. Arshak Gavafian drew the attendees’ attention to the fact that the repressions against Hrant Dink are now being applied against Garo Paylan.

In regard to this, Gavafian suggested that political parties and international organizations based in Sweden and other countries speak out to put an end to assaults against the Armenian Member of Parliament. Arshak Gavafian also stated that a petition has been launched on the Internet in defense of Garo Paylan.

The Coordinating Center’s spokesman and former president Vahagn Avetyan also mentioned the deterioration of the state of free speech and press in Turkey over the past decade and attached importance to the need for exerting pressure on Turkey instead of leading a weak policy on negotiation, stating that it is the duty of the European Union, Members of Parliament, governmental and non-governmental organizations like Amnesty and the union of free journalists to criticize Turkey and force it to take appropriate steps to solve the situation that has been created.

“With his life, Hrant Dink set an example for many to live as human beings and struggle for justice and the freedom to speak the truth, sacrificing his life for the nation.

Our prayers and respect to the just person that he was, and may God help us continue the just efforts of Hrant Dink as the mission of the nation,” Fr. Yeghishe said.

The Swedish-Armenian community had also invited Garo Paylan and Hrant Dink’s widow, Raquel Dink to the event, but they couldn’t attend the event due to their busy schedules. Raquel Dink conveyed her welcoming remarks and expressed gratitude for organizing the initiative, and her remarks were transmitted to the attendees.

Let us also add that the commemorative event was held with the participation of Members of Parliament, intellectuals, journalists, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations and national minorities. Among the speakers were Member of Parliament and Chairperson of the Swedish Committee on Human Rights in Turkey Desire Petrus; Deputy Chairperson, correspondent for organization of the commemorative event Isa Turan; General Secretary of the Swedish PEN Association Anna Livion Ingvarson; President of the Union of Journalists of Sweden Jonas Nordling; representative of Amnesty International Sweden Andrea Bodekul; vice-chair of SvD Daily Anders Bjorkman, as well as President of the Coordinating Council of Kurds in Sweden Keya Izol and well-known Swedish journalist Kurdo Baksi.

Gevorg Chichyan

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