MONTREAL and TORONTO — Altogether more than 1,200 people attended events in Montreal and Toronto commemorating the centennial of the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, and featuring Cem Ozdemir, the co-chair of the Green Party in Germany, and a member of parliament there who was the main force behind the resolution which that body passed recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
Among those attending were Armenian Ambassador to Canada Armen Yeganian, the German Consul Generals of Toronto and Montreal, Russian Consul General of Montreal, Armenian Consul at the Armenian Embassy, several members of parliament, and significantly, the Premier of Ontario Province Kathleen Wynn, who gave a passionate speech about Hrant Dink. Dink’s widow, Rakel, sent a special video message to both audiences thanking the organizers and Ozdemir.
Zoryan Institute Outreach Coordinator Megan Reid explained the relationship between Hrant Dink and the Zoryan Institute toward the objective of creating a “common body of knowledge” of historic facts about the 1915 events, and introduced Raffi Bedrosyan, the moderator and the propeller of both events.
RB stated that with these events we do not only commemorate Hrant Dink, but we reaffirm our commitment to continue Hrant’s mission for reconciliation between Armenian and Turkish peoples through dialogue. But dialogue can only happen when based on historic facts and truths. As soon as Hrant started revealing facts, such as Sabiha Gokcen (known as Ataturk’s adopted daughter, first Turkish female military pilot, a hero whose name is given to Istanbul’s second airport) to be in fact an Armenian girl orphaned during the 1915 Armenian Genocide, he became a target, subject to endless threats, insults and charges of “insulting Turkishness,” ultimately ending in his murder.
The murder was perpetrated by the deep state and the state security forces just watched or even encouraged and then covered up the murder and the perpetrators. Video clips which became available only recently, ten years after the murder, were presented to the audience, that show several state military intelligence officers based in the assassin’s hometown of Trabzon, who were aware of the assassination to be carried out, and had travelled to Istanbul to observe the murder. Based on historical context presentation prepared by the Zoryan Institute, Bedrosyan also talked about the significance of the book Armenian Genocide: Evidence from the German Office Archives, edited by German scholar Wolfgang Gust, which was financed, researched, published in German, English and Turkish in collaboration with the Zoryan Institute of Toronto. The book was distributed to many opinion makers in German and Turkish governments, media and academia, and deeply influenced Ozdemir and his colleagues who prepared the German parliament resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide and acknowledging Germany’s responsibility in not preventing it. Immediately after the passing of the resolution, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan castigated Cem Ozdemir and wondered: ‘What sort of Turk is he? His blood must be tested in a lab’. Other Turkish government leaders then followed by hurling the ultimate insult at Ozdemir, by calling him an Armenian.
Bedrosyan then introduced Ozdemir, whose parents came to Germany from Turkey in the 1960s as guest workers. Ozdemir explained Dink’s profound influence on him, and stated that if it were not for him, the Turkish population would not have known any of the truth about the 1915 events. Thanks to Hrant, Dink, he said, the Turkish people started to understand the truth and to question the state version of history. After sharing his experiences in the preparation of the resolution bill, he stated that German Parliament recognition of the genocide resolution is much more significant than parliament resolutions of other countries, because Germany accepted its guilt as an ally of Turkey and wanted to set an example for Turkey also to accept its own responsibility about the genocide.