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Hrant Dink Turkey mourns slain journalist 10 years on

Ogun Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the murder and was sentenced in 2011 to almost 23 years in jail.

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Crowds in Istanbul hold placards reading 'We all are Hrant, we all are Armenians" on January 19, 2017, to mark the 10th anniversary of the killing of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink play

Crowds in Istanbul hold placards reading 'We all are Hrant, we all are Armenians" on January 19, 2017, to mark the 10th anniversary of the killing of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink

(AFP)
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For many in Turkey, the 10 years that have passed since Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was murdered in broad daylight have not lessened the pain.

"Whenever I pass through this street, I am trembling. It's very painful. How dare they kill such people?" Turkan Arslan told AFP on the street where Dink was killed by an ultranationalist outside the offices of his Agos newspaper in Istanbul.

Ogun Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the murder and was sentenced in 2011 to almost 23 years in jail.

However, mystery lingers over who orchestrated the killing, which sent shockwaves through Turkey and became a scandal after it emerged that the security forces had known of the plot but failed to act.

Arslan joined thousands of people including Dink's wife Rakel and his colleagues who turned out to pay tribute to the journalist who founded the bilingual newspaper.

"It looks like the perpetrator of this murder was the state, at all levels," said Rakel, whose speech was interrupted by the crowds shouting: "The murderer state will be brought to account!"

"This case is one of the keys to Turkey's democratisation," she declared.

Under the grey sky, a huge banner with a picture of Dink and the words: "We've been missing you for 10 years" hung from the building that housed the Agos offices.

"We are all Hrant, we are all Armenians" the crowds shouted, some people laying red and white carnations on the street where he was gunned down.

A tense atmosphere still pervades Istanbul, a metropolis that has been hit by multiple terror attacks including a shooting at a nightclub just 75 minutes into New Year as well as the July coup bid.

'His words still echo'

Dink had campaigned for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.

Relations between the two countries are dominated by the massacres and deportations from 1915 of the Ottoman Empire's Armenians in Anatolia at the height of World War 1.

Armenians consider the killings a genocide. But for Ankara the word is an anathema, especially as the Ottoman Empire, with the sultan by then a figurehead, was run by a trio of pashas still regarded by many in Turkey as heroes.

Ten years on, mystery still surrounds the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink play

Ten years on, mystery still surrounds the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink

(AFP)

Yetvart Danzikyan, who holds Dink's former job of Agos editor-in-chief, said: "We are still feeling his absence but we know that his words are still echoing."

Asli Erdogan, one of Turkey's celebrated novelists who was released from jail last month after being held on charges of terror propaganda, said: "It is a luxury to talk about justice in this country."

"But we are still here 10 years on. We will also be here 20 years later. Maybe it is the only justice that we are here," she told AFP.

But Arslan said she was optimistic that justice would be served in Dink's case.

Although his assassin was rapidly arrested and sentenced, dozens of former public officials, including former police chiefs, have been on trial on charges of negligence over the killing, with Dink's supporters losing confidence on the ability of Turkey's justice system to shed light on the plot.

"There is the sun rising after every dark day... The sun will rise again," Arslan said. "One Hrant is gone, one thousand Hrants will come."

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