Hrant Dink, Journalist and Human Rights Activist

Hrant Dink, Journalist and Human Rights Activist

"I challenge the accepted version of history because I do not write about things in black and white. People here are used to black and white; that’s why they are astonished that there are other shades, too."

Who he was

Hrant Dink was a founder of the Agos newspaper in Turkey and served as its editor for many years. A zoologist by education, he became a maverick journalist, often pushing the bounds of what had previously been acceptable in Turkey. He exuded unconventional courage in expressing himself in a country where taboos were infrequently challenged - a habit that garnered him significant attention. 

As a humanist, he tried to act as a bridge between Armenians and Turks, often trying to explain the viewpoints of one side to the other, a task that elicited criticism from both sides. It was when he publicized his discovery that Sabiha Gokcen, Turkey’s first female aviator (and an adopted daughter of Ataturk, the country’s founder), was Armenian, that Dink was vehemently targeted by Turkey’s extremist fringe groups. He was taken to court for “insulting Turkishness,” an illegal act under Turkish law, and was ostracized in the media. The ongoing demonization that he suffered ultimately precipitated his death. 

In January 2007 he was assassinated in front of his office by three gunshots aimed point-blank at the back of his head. His murder was internationally condemned and fomented demonstrations around Turkey, particularly in Istanbul, where protesters held signs reading “We Are All Armenians” and “We Are All Hrant Dink.” 

Dink’s death is seen as a turning point in Turkey’s recent past, after which certain taboo topics - like the role of minorities in Turkish society - could finally be discussed more openly. One consequence of his tragic death has been a greater willingness to confront and discuss the Armenian Genocide on the part of Turkish intellectuals and Turkish society at large. 

Interesting fact

Dink had officially changed his name to Firat Dink earlier in his life to avoid being discriminated against due to his heritage. 

Learn more about him

Hrant Dink Foundation