TORONTO — On the 11th anniversary of Hrant Dink’s assassination, the Armenian community of Toronto gathered at St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church to honor his legacy and remember his message for humanity and love.
Journalist, Filmmaker, and Professor at Carleton University, Kumru Bilici, described Hrant Dink as follows: “He fought for everyone…there were no Turks, Kurds or Armenians when it comes to injustices. He deeply cared about freedom of expression and believed that there is nothing that we cannot solve through dialogue, freely expressing our views and listening to one another. I thank you all for honoring this incredible human being, our Martin Luther King.”
Dr. Payam Akhavan, a noted human rights lawyer and professor at the McGill School of Law, served as the keynote speaker of the event. Akhavan eloquently explained the complexity of Turkish civil society, where ethnic nationalism has been defining “identity” by excluding and demeaning others.
“When we stoke the fans of hatred, the consequence is ethnic cleansing and genocide. … All great evils begin with words that demean and dehumanize others,” he said.
This is exactly what Hrant Dink fought against. His mission was to find the shared humanity amongst all citizens of Turkey. For Hrant, there were no Turks, Kurds, Alevis, Jews, Greeks, Yezidis or Armenians when it came to injustices. His mission was to destroy the “us vs. them” notion and help Turkey to become a true democracy.