Thousands Mourn Slain Editor in Istanbulhttp://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/23/world/europe/23cnd-turkey.html?hp&ex=1169614800&en=2bce53e69181b98e&ei=5094&partner=homepage
ISTANBUL, Jan. 23 -- More than 100,000 mourners, including senior Turkish and Armenian officials joining for a rare display of unity
, poured into the heart of Istanbul today to bid farewell to Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian journalist who was shot and killed on the street in front of his newspaper's offices last week.
With hundreds of police officers in riot gear on duty and traffic barred on major thoroughfares, the normally chaotic section of the city took on a somber atmosphere as Armenian music played from loudspeakers along Republic Avenue and Turks of various ethnicities stood shoulder to shoulder, many in tears. Others leaned out windows or over balcony railings to watch the procession.
Mr. Dink's family had requested a silent vigil in front of the offices of Agos, the weekly bilingual newspaper edited by Dink, but the crowd instead broke out with spontaneous bouts of whistling or applause. The few chants that were heard called for solidarity with Turkey's minority communities including the Kurds and Jews.
An elderly woman of Armenian descent, crying on the street, said that it was "important to remember that Turkey became a republic with our blood, too."
She asked not to be identified, saying that was afraid that if she talked, someone might shoot her, too.
Pigeons were released into the air in a reference to what Mr. Dink wrote in one of his final articles for Agos, describing himself as a pigeon, nervously looking side to side, in fear of threats targeting him and his family.
Another mourner, a high school student, Eren Yigit, 17, the same age as Ogun Samast, the suspected killer, said that he could not imagine committing such a crime. "It's obvious that someone began brainwashing him at a younger age," he said.
Basak Yilmaz, 27, was waiting to take the subway to go to her job as in the marketing department of Finans Bank. "This is not all just because Dink was Armenian or any other ethnicity," she said. "It's about humanity and freedom of speech."
Many who gathered held red carnations that had been distributed by the local mayor's office or waved circular black and white placards which read "We are all Hrant Dink" in Turkish on one side and in Armenian on the other.
Still other signs read "Abolish 301," a reference to the Turkish law under which scores of intellectuals, including Mr. Dink and the Nobel Prize winner, Orhan Pamuk, have been prosecuted in lawsuits brought by nationalists.
Tugrul Eryilmaz, 60, the features editor of the daily newspaper Radikal, was moved by the emotion and sweep of the march. "Someone should have done this long ago," he said. "We should have all reacted like this to Article 301
and to the killing of that priest in Trabzon. Well, better now than never."
At the start of the procession, Mr. Dink's coffin, covered with white daisies, lay inside a black hearse parked outside his newspaper offices. The hearse then moved in the direction of central Taksim Square, with at least one Armenian religious leader in the front seat and family members walking behind on foot. At one point, the entourage passed a billboard several stories tall advertising blue jeans with the headline "Make History."
Indeed, Armenian spiritual and political leaders did just that by accepting the Turkish invitation to attend the funeral, held after a march in one of Turkey's Armenian churches across the Golden Horn. They included the archbishop of the Armenian Church of America, Khajag Barsamyan; Arman Kirakossian, the former Armenian ambassador to the United States, who is now the deputy foreign minister of Armenia: and Karen Mirzoyan, the Armenian representative to the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.
Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin and Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu represented the Turkish government.