Sunday, 10 April 2011

Discrimination remains at forefront of Turkish society

Discrimination based on ethnic or religious background remains persistent in all facets of Turkish state and society, according to Rakel Dink, the widow of slain journalist Hrant Dink.

“A schoolbook in Armenian has been [introduced] to the curriculum for primary schools, but [it is not enough],” Dink said Saturday at the Building Peace conference at Istanbul Bilgi University.

“The Kurdish language, which I speak, is still politically banned. Being a Christian is another concern in this country, nobody knows what is said to Christians every day,” she said.

Dink, like her late husband, is a Turkish-Armenian. During Saturday’s conference, she spoke from the same rostrum that her journalist husband had spoken at during a conference on Armenians in 2005. During that event, Hrant Dink was called “an enemy” for his work, which challenged the pervading nationalist discourse on the Armenian question.

“How will discriminatory and racist speeches, moves, plans and projects be collected, removed, wrapped up and thrown into the garbage can in this country?” Rakel Dink asked, adding that all pressure against people made them turn in upon themselves, thus shutting themselves off from society.

Dink also said nobody intended to apologize for terming the participants in the 2005 conference as “enemies.”

“They might even say ‘enemies have gathered’ for this meeting. As long as an apology won’t be made, everything can happen again,” she said, referring to the Sept. 6-7 events of 1955, in which shops, houses, and churches belonging to the non-Muslim minorities, especially Greeks, were targeted in a coordinated pogrom.

“Fears, anger, rage, jealousies, hatreds, prejudices and insecurity makes all of us even smaller,” she said, adding that people in Turkey were “poisoning” themselves with lies they try to believe. “There will be no change without maturity, although it might be painful and frightening.”

Justice means not only punishing the guilty but also giving back the rights to the injured party.

“How can there be the thought of peace of without justice?” she said, adding that deferred punishments encouraged criminals and provided incentives for crimes to be committed. “We [know] the rapists and killers in our country. Do not show off by saying we are a social and a democratic state, a state of law.”

Turkey is also a global “expert” in writing “reports full of lies” in the wake of catastrophic and painful social events, Dink said.

Source

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