19th January 2007, 19th January 2012

Five years ago today, I was living in a studio flat on Alyon Alley in Istanbul, learning Turkish. I popped out to get some dinner. My favourite kebab-and-pide salon, on Hasnun Galip Street, had stopped doing kebab; so I went to a kebab shop on Sadri Alışık Street instead. Waiting for them to prepare a couple of chicken doners, I stared up at the TV and tried to decipher the evening news. “Hrant Dink öldürülmüş.”

I knew I recognised the words, but I thought I’d misremembered them; I wanted to have misremembered them. I tried to ring a friend, but I couldn’t get through – because she was trying to ring me, too.

I can’t remember which of us got through to the other. Standing in the street with two kebabs in a bag hanging from my hand, I tried to explain, ‘I was just watching the news’. Then I asked, ‘is it really true?’

“Hrant Dink öldürülmüş”; “Hrant Dink has been killed”, less than ten minutes’ walk from where I stood.

I didn’t go back to my flat. I wandered up İstiklal Avenue, gravitating towards Taksim Square. Before I even got there, I bumped into another friend, her face white with shock. ‘Have you heard?’ We walked up to Taksim together in silence, and merged into the crowd.

Five years on, the gunman has been convicted of murder; but the ultranationalist organised crime network has been left unpunished, its existence denied.

Hrant Dink has been betrayed twice; his widow, Rakel Dink, has been betrayed twice.

When people heard the grotesque verdict, on Tuesday, they marched again.

Today, tens of thousands of people in Turkey flooded the streets in commemoration and protest.

[Update, 20th January 2012]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) have judged the trial a travesty of justice.


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