was shot and killed outside his newspaper’s office in Istanbul.
"A bullet has been fired at democracy and freedom of expression," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said as he learned about the killing. The attack he said was "leveled against free speech, democracy and the unity of the Turkish people."
Dink, 53, wrote about the alleged massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenian, Assyrian and Hellenic Christians carried out by Turkish Ottoman forces in the 1915-1917 period. Turkey’s government has denied the figure or the involvement of Turkish forces in mass killings. It says the events did not constitute genocide and claims that no more than 300,000 Armenians perished at the time.
Turkey has said that most Armenians died from hunger and disease after they were forcibly deported from eastern Turkey for having collaborated with invading Russian forces in the last days of the Ottoman Empire.
Yet, at least a dozen countries and many historians have recognized the killings as “genocide," but anyone who challenges Turkey’s official version of history risks prosecution by Turkish authorities. Turkey and neighboring Armenia still have no official relations.
Dink was given a six-month suspended sentence in October 2005 after writing about especially the killings of Armenians and describing the events as "genocide". He also angered fellow Armenians by insisting that dwelling on the past served no useful purpose and saying he was proud to be a loyal citizen of Turkey, people who knew him said.
The European Union has repeatedly condemned Turkey for laws that it says curb free speech as they often target Turkish writers and academics. Dink was among dozens of writers in Turkey charged under 301 of Turkey’s penal code with insulting Turkish identity, often for articles dealing with the killing of Kurds and Ottoman Armenians.
Christians and missionaries have also been persecuted under this legislation which also encouraged Muslim militants and nationalists to attack individual Christian believers and their leaders, church observers say.
There were signs that Dink expected to be assassinated one day. In a recent column he reportedly admitted he had been getting deaths threats. His computer hard drive was full of them amounting to what he called psychological torture.
On Friday, January 19, the EU and the United States urged Turkey to urgently find those responsible for the killing.
Turkish intellectuals and politicians condemned Dink’s slaying, describing him as a force for peace and reconciliation. Speaking to the NTV news channel, a Turkish columnist for Agos, Aydin Engin, said he believes Dink’s murder was orchestrated by those who do not want Turkey to join the European Union.
As Armenian Christians and others began mourning the death of the editor, Television images from the scene of the slaying showed Dink lying on the pavement covered with a white sheet outside the office of his bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, which he founded and ran.
The area was reportedly cordoned off by police as citizens and journalists thronged around scene of the crime. Turkish independent news channel NTV reported an unidentified teenager wearing jeans and white cap was among the chief suspects.
Funeral arrangements were still underway Friday, January 19. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from Turkey).