Agos editorial – Not eight, but a hundred years

From the January 19 editorial of Agos: It has been eight years since Hrant Dink was shot to death in front the offices of his own newspaper. From 2007 to 2015, the eight years that passed with the expectation and demand for justice. But that is not all; since 1915, a century has passed with the same expectation and demand.

These are no mere figures; there is life and death behind the numbers; there is loss and resurrection; there are ideas, struggles, pain and hope…

Eight years ago, they took from us the man you see in the photograph above, smiling at the ruins of the medieval Armenian city of Ani, on the border of Turkey and Armenia. He had things he believed in, and things he wanted to change. He carried the weight of the past, a repertoire of the stories of these lands, and he spoke a new language he had distilled from the legacy of centuries. He was a young tree, his roots deep in the past, his branches, nurtured by the waters of the Euphrates, reaching out to an unknown future full of promise.

He was an Armenian. He was a citizen of Turkey. He had taken upon himself myriad afflictions, but he looked upon them with hope, the same way in which he looked with hope upon those ruins. He smiled to the lens with the belief that the derelict Silk Road bridges that connected Anatolia to the Caucasus would one day rise again.

Conscious of the fact that the great disaster of 1915 meant the dehumanization and decivilisation of the country we live in, he drew not hate from the past, but a determination for a struggle in the name of a common future. He said we could overcome denial not with recognition but comprehension; and with a belief that only democracy, only citizenship could hold us together, he wanted for others what he wanted for himself.

19 January 2015 is the eight anniversary of Hrant Dink’s passing. For us, it is also the beginning of the 100th anniversary of 24 April 1915, the date on which the Armenian intellectuals of Istanbul were rounded up for a journey that ended in death. 1915 is the date when Anatolian Armenians, along with their Syriac-Assyrian-Chaldean neighbours in some regions, were annihilated.

Let us then express our hope that the year 2015, which commenced by shaking us with the nightmare of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, be the beginning of a future in which we take steps to live together with our neighbours in Turkey and Europe, in the Middle East and the Caucasus, and all across the world; and for which we require no other weapon than our pens and ideas.