What Hrant Dink means to me…

(reposting from January 20, 2013)

I admit I’ve been a bit of an idealist most of my life…the kind of title that has made me the subject of derision among my closest friends and family.  Family members have been known to gift me with humorous postcards, books and the like on peacemakers, Buddhists and others, pulling my leg and insinuating that I should stop being such an idealist, that I should come out of my own utopia and join the real world. And yet I don’t think I ever will…

You see, I spent the weekend going through a bunch of video clips on Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor who was murdered in İstanbul 7 years ago.  As the date of his commemoration inched closer over the past couple of weeks, I kept thinking of something I had heard him say…not in person but on a piece of digital video…I was compelled to look for it and so I searched through half a dozen discs and finally found what I was looking for:  During a videotaped discussion on the campus of Boğaziçi University in İstanbul (I cannot locate the specific date), an audience member asks him one of those long winded questions ending with a quizzical question on whether he (Dink) still believed in utopias. Here’s his answer:

“In fact my utopias are still alive and well…and they will continue until the day I die…and then, even continue on through my grand children.”[1]

Dink has been dead for seven long years.  His murder remains shamelessly unsolved…And yet his words and ideals have spearheaded a movement in Turkey where turning back is not an option.  Millions of people have been reexamining not only their nation’s history, but their own ancestral histories, as well as those belonging to millions of Armenians who had once called Anatolia home.  And it is through that kind of searching and probing that all of Turkey’s people, whether Armenian, Turkish or any other ethnicity, will be paving the road to better and unified tomorrows. Utopia you might ask? Maybe so…

And so, I thank you Hrant Dink for making me believe that being an idealist and a dreamer for utopias is nothing to sneer at.



[1] Please note that I have taken the liberty of translating Dink’s response from Turkish