Fifty thousand people marched in Istanbul on Thursday in commemoration of Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who was assassinated exactly five years earlier. Holding up photos of Dink and signs reading We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian, they walked to the location in the Turkish city where the reporter was killed in 2007.
Dink was shot dead outside his office at the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos by a right-wing nationalist named Ogun Samast. The journalist was a vocal advocate for Armenian rights and minority groups, and published reports on the Armenian Genocide, a tragedy long denied by the Turkish government.
Some of the protests marched to express their outrage over the most recent verdicts in the murder trial. Earlier this week, Yasin Hayal was sentenced to life in prison in connection to Dink's murder, while suspect Erhan Tuncel was acquitted of murder charges. Hayal was found guilty of plotting the assassination and giving Samast the murder weapon.
A judge also acquitted 19 suspects on charges that they belonged to a terrorist organization called Ergenekon which apparently seeks to overthrow the government.
“First of all this verdict disturbed everyone. It has been so long. Even if it’s overturned on appeal I don’t know how it can satisfy people after all this time. But anyway it should be rejected,” journalist and protestor Engin Bas told Euronews.
Turkish politicians have repeatedly vowed to get to the bottom of Dink's assassination, but many of his supporters still feel unsatisfied.
“They made fun of us throughout the five-year trial process. We did not know they saved the biggest joke to the very end,” Dink family's lawyer, Fethiye Çetin, told reporters.
“This ruling means a tradition was left untouched. The state tradition of political murders. The tradition of state discriminating against some of its citizens and turning them into enemies.”