In Turkey: Dink murder trial, apology petition, and curriculum changes

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Thursday January 29, 2009

Washington - The trial of the accused assassins of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink rambled on in Istanbul this week, as his friends marked the second anniversary of his death.

The Paris-based Reporters without Borders issued a statement on January 28 urging the court to keep trial proceedings "dignified," noting that one of the accused and his lawyer had repeatedly used ethnic slurs against the late Mr. Dink and his family members in attendance.

The Economist meanwhile reported that prosecutors were probing a connection between the Dink murder and the so-called Ergenekon case of alleged coup plotters. Dozens more arrests were made in the Ergenekon case on January 22.

Prosecutors refused to file "insulting Turkishness" charges against intellectuals who initiated a public apology to Armenians over the Turkey's "insensitivity" to the memory of the "Great Catastrophe," The Associated Press reported on January 26.

More than 28,000 individuals signed on to the online petition launched last December on a web site, www.ozurdiliyoruz.com, which repeatedly has been hacked, presumably by its opponents. Meanwhile, a rival site "I do not apologize" popped up and claimed the support of more than 65,000 Turks.

A state entity known as "Coordination Board to Fight Baseless Genocide Claims" decided to amend the Turkish school curriculum to remove terms like "baseless" and "so-called Armenian genocide" from eighth-grade textbooks. (The board's own name was not reported to have been changed.)

According to the newspaper Milliyet, Turkish children will now study "Turkish-Armenian relations, 1915 events, and related Armenian allegations."

Similarly in July 2007, the Turkish government reportedly instructed state officials not to refer to the term "so called Armenian genocide allegations," UlulasKanal.com reported at the time. The recommended usage was "1915 incidents" or "Armenian allegations regarding incidents in 1915," shifting official rhetoric from straightforward denial to a more ambiguous wording.

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