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Who Killed Hrant Dink and Why

by Garbis Altinoglu Friday, Mar. 09, 2007 at 12:32 AM

The assassination of Armenian democrat writer Hrant Dink on January 19th by the Kontrgerilla (Turkish version of Gladio) attached to the Turkish General Staff, brought forth a just reaction of all progressive segments of Turkey and led to their protest actions against the Turkish state.

Who Killed Hrant Dink and Why?

Garbis Altinoglu, 25-26 January 2007

The assassination of Armenian democrat writer Hrant Dink on January 19th by the Kontrgerilla (Turkish version of Gladio) attached to the Turkish General Staff, brought forth a just reaction of all progressive segments of Turkey and led to their protest actions against the Turkish state. In view of the fact that Dink was a member of the Armenian community which has been subjected to a genocide, these protest actions have both reflected and elevated the feelings of solidarity of the Turkish democratic and left forces with the Armenian people. Reactionary-fascist regime in Turkey has been nursing a rabid hate against everything Armenian for decades. The material basis of this hate lies in the formation of the Turkish bourgeoisie through the wholesale deportation, destruction, massacre and expropriation of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-16 and later. It was in this way and under the protection of Ottoman-Turkish gangster state that the nascent Turkish bourgeoisie implemented its primitive accumulation. That also is the reason why the unquenchable hate and hostility of the Turkish ruling classes against the Armenian people is qualitatively different from its hate and hostility against other ethnic and religious communities, such as Kurds, Arabs, Alevites etc. This deep-rooted hate and hostility has characterized and defined the essence of reactionary Turkish nationalism since its inception at the beginning of 20th century. Even today, that is more than 90 years after the Armenian genocide Turkish reactionaries, fascists and chauvinists continue to use the term “Armenian” as an invective and percieve everything Armenian as a potential or actual threat and enemy.

Needless to say, this state of affairs, that is the rabid anti-Armenianism of Turkish establishment cannot and should not taint the political analyses of consistent revolutionary and internationalist forces; they cannot and should not leave aside their responsibility for making cool-headed assessment even when they are are faced with such a tragic event as the assassination of Hrant Dink. So, in spite of its idiosyncratic aspects, this murder is similar to countless other ones committed for years and decades by the military clique and the Kontrgerilla, political police or civilian fascist gangs under its command against Kurdish people, its political representatives, Turkish revolutionaries and progressive and liberal intellectuals. The thesis of this article is that the real target of this murder is neither Mr. Hrant Dink, nor the 50,000-strong Armenian community in Turkey. One cannot deny the fact that the tiny Armenian community in Turkey is far from posing a threat to the bloodthirsty rule of Turkish ruling classes. It is true that Mr. Dink consistently fought against the discrimination against and the infringement of the rights of the Armenian people in Turkey and drew the ire of the Turkish establishment for his candid and incisive criticism. However, one also has to be reminded of the fact that Mr. Dink was not content with that; he opposed the efforts of the Armenian diaspora to pressure Turkey over the question of the Armenan genocide and opposed the passing of resolutions by various national parliaments and other bodies condemning the tragic events of 1915-16 as well. That is, he was against imperialist meddling in this highly sensitive and almost taboo question and was against Armenian irredentism and ultra-nationalism. So the question remains: Who killed Hrant Dink and why?

As I have told elsewhere, developments in the Middle East including Turkey, cannot be understood and put into proper perspective without taking into account the decisive effect of the strategic aggression of the axis of evil comprising US, Britain and Israel and the pro-US orientation of the Turkish ruling classes. As is well known, for years the US and its allies have been waging a struggle to control the oil and natural gas resources of the Middle East, Caucasia and Central Asia and prevent rising imperialist powers, such as Russia and China from gaining ground in Eurasia. The struggle of the US and its allies have also aims to fortify the strategic position and “security” of Zionist Israel. The struggle for the realization of these aims cannot but bring the US imperialists into open and violent conflict with the –mostly Islamic- peoples of this vast geographical region, their political vanguards, as well as with bourgeois states which do not act in accordance with the will of the “masters of the world”. This, in a nutshell, has been and is the essence of the so-called “war on terror”.

Especially in the wake of the events of 11 September 2001, the main body of the Turkish ruling classes have supported US imperialist terrorism and –directly or indirectly- contributed to the aggressive war on the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq. They continue to do so, despite their growing concerns, reservations and hesitations, with regard to the formation of a Kurdish state led by Barzani and Talabani cliques in Northern Iraq, under the auspices of the US and Israel. At the beginning, however, they barely had concealed their delight in the face of the events of 11 September and right after the event had tried to utilize it as a case allegedly justifying their own dirty war against the Kurdish national liberation struggle led by the PKK (“Workers’ Party of Kurdistan). Moreover after the occupation of Afghanistan by US imperialists, they had offered their assistance to the Washington warlords. According to the Turkish daily Hürriyet, at the time Prime Minister “Ecevit stated that Turkey will assume the responsibility following the acceptance of conditions it has put forward and will provide security not only in Afghanistan, but also in all of Central Asia and thereby liberate the whole region from the threat of terrorism and fundamentalism.” (1)

In the meantime, Turkish reactionaries have maintained their protracted aggression and dirty war against the Kurdish people led by petty-bourgeois nationalist-reformist PKK systematically refusing to consider the latter’s offers of ceasefire and “peaceful solution” of the problem in return for very modest reforms. This inflexible and aggressive policy of Turkish chauvinists accompanied with imperial, expansionist and Panturkist delusions has not only been and is against the interests of workers and peoples of various nationalities in Turkey, but it also has been and is against the long-term interests of the Turkish bourgeoisie. Behind the insistence on this “irrational” policy of almost total refusal to grant even minimal reforms demanded by the Kurdish national movement and the push for conflict and confrontation between the Kurdish minority and Turkish majority lie the nature of political power in Turkey; the control of the commanding heights of political power in Turkey has been and is in the hands of pro-US and pro-Zionist military clique and traditional big capital. (However, the Islamist big and middle bourgeoisie led at the moment by the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government follows more or less the same policy.) This policy of antagonizing the 20 million-strong Kurdish community of Turkey plays directy into the hands of US imperialists and Israei Zionists, who for years and decades have been striving to incite national, religiois and sectarian differences, to weaken the existing national states or replace with a set of mini-states and to prevent the formation of a united front of workers and peoples against imperialism, Zionism and their local stooges. This is nothing but another manifestation of the policy of “divide and rule”, the long-standing policy of colonialism and imperialism.

(Of course, by stressing the machinations of US imperialism, the main enemy of workers and oppressed peoples of the world and its strategic allies, I am not in the least condoning the policies, borders and even existence of reactionary bourgeois states in the Middle East or elsewhere. Governed by reactionary cliques, most of these states have been in league with the US and other imperialist powers and are conspiring with them against their “own” workers and peoples; what is more, in most cases they have been supporting the US-led aggresion against the peoples of the region.)

Through the assassination of Hrant Dink, vicious and bloodthirsty Turkish reactionaries and their imperialist masters once again have threatened the workers, toilers and revolutionary and democratic forces of Turkey and Northern (i.e. Turkish) Kurdistan and delivered them a message. They want to tell the latter that they are determined to follow the path of state terrorism against Kurdish people and guerillas and tactics of conflict and confrontation between Kurdish and Turkish peoples and oppose all initiatives towards a genuine democratization of Turkey. This is how the Kurdish people and its vanguard forces shall interpret the murder of Hrant Dink. They will say: “Turkish ruling classes will not even tolerate the activities of a bourgeois-democrat Armenian, a political representative of the Armenian people who had been advocating the promotion of friendly relations between the two communities and between Turkey and Armenia, despite the fact that the tiny Armenian community does not and cannot pose a threat to the ‘security’ of Turkish reactionary bourgeois regime. Can such an aggressive and intolerant regime be expected to come to terms with the 20 millon-strong Kurdish nation with its –recognized or unrecognized- political parties, armed guerillas, a widespread representation in Kurdish municipalites and local councils, especially in view of the fact that right across the border in Northern Iraq a de facto Kurdish state has been established despite Ankara’s hostility and its reluctance to deal with it?” It is beyond doubt that Mr. Dink’s murder will have reinforced the well-founded suspicions and distrust of the Kurdish people and its political representatives as to the intentions of Turkish reactionaries, who up to this day have stubbornly refused to accept the very modest demands of the Kurdish people, such as the recognition of their national identity and the use of the Kurdish language on an equal basis with its Turkish counterpart. In fact by acting in this manner for years and consistently and systematically dubbing the PKK and its leaders as terrorists, by refusing to deal with the PKK and/ or talk to other Kurdish groups and personalities close to this organization, Turkish reactionaries have been more and more alienating the Kurdish people and more or less intentionally have been pushing them into the arms of the US and Israel.

The murder of Mr. Dink is, for the moment, the last instance of this counter-revolutionary, pro-imperialist, pro-Zionist, anti-Kurdish and militarist policy of the Turkish ruling classes. Unless they are prevented by the workers and toilers and the progressive movement in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan, Turkish reactionaries led by the military clique will continue to tread on this black path and will not refrain from shedding the blood of the best sons and daughters of peoples of various nationalities of Turkey and that of the progressive and liberal personalities. This assassination is only a link in the chain of events and developments, through which the the axis of US, Britain and Israel strive to tie Turkish reactionaries tighter to their imperialist war chariot and recruit Ankara’s help in their drive to dominate the Middle East, Caucasia and Central Asia in general and assure its participation in their war preparations on Iran in particular. Therefore, the murder of Hrant Dink may very well be an “independent” operation of American (or Israeli) intelligence organizations, without the information or contribution of Turkish agencies as well as the work of Turkish Kontrgerilla acting under the orders of their American bosses. Right after the murder of Mr. Dink a 17-year old youth had been apprehended by the police with the help of the testimonies of eye-witnessess and the images caught on the security cameras near the scene of the assassination. It is certain that this person is directly implicated in the murder. However, as all observers agree it is almost impossible for this semi-literate and inexperinced person to plan and implement this assassination in a locality unknown to him. Although the police appears to be working on the case, one can be certain that the real puppetmasters behind this youth will never be identified. A review of the Turkish experience with regard to political assassinations leaves one with no doubt whatsoever on this score. This has been the case with political assassinations in Turkey at least since the second half of the 1980s. Several dozens of political assassinations have been committed during the last two decades and almost in none of these cases the police and the judiciary have been able to get to the bottom of the problem. The reason is obvious: These assassinations are committed by the operatives and agents of Turkish state apparatus, foreign intelligence organizations or the puppets used by these forces and therefore are doomed to remain unsolved as long as the present correlation of class forces does not change radically in favor of workers and toilers.

On the other hand, this vicious murder has stimulated the revolutionary and progressive people and groups to take action and mobilize their potential. The participation of nearly 200,000 people at the funeral procession of Mr. Dink on January 23rd has heralded some hope for the revival of the much decimated strength of genuinely democratic and leftist forces. There are some reasons to become cautiously optimistic. However a great amount of work to be done in the face of overwhelming difficulties, deriving mainly from the path of self-destruction and auto-liquidation the revolutionary and progressive forces have imposed upon themselves and as a result have become faint echoes of their former selves. Despite its much more organized structure and much greater potential PKK-led Kurdish national movement has been suffering from a similar malaise. Especially since the capture of its leader Mr. Abdullah Ocalan in February 1999, PKK has reduced itself to begging pitiful reforms from the bloodthirsty Turkish reactionaries and in this manner has stifled the revolutionary energy of the Kurdish people. What makes the task even more difficult is the resurgence of ultra-nationalist and fascist forces fostered behind the scenes by the military clique allied to the US and Israel with the aim of taking Turkey along the road of open military-fascist dictatorship.


(1) Hürriyet, 1 March 2002.

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