THE HRANT DINK AFFAIR CONTINUES: Resolution in the U.S. Senate and Detention of Turkish Nationalist Politicians
We would like to inform our readers regarding developments following the murder of Hrant Dink on January 19th...
1) The United States Senate Committee on Foreign relations today is planning to vote on a resolution condemning the murder. The resolution cals on Turkey to abolish the infamous article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and asks Turkey to establish diplomatic, political and economic relations with Armenia.
Authored by Joe Biden, a Democrat, the resolution had been scheduled for a vote three weeks ago but was delayed after Richard Lugar, a ranking member of the committee, objected to the wording which included the term "Armenian Genocide". (More tomorrow...)
It's official. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, by a voice vote late today, approved a resolution condemning Hrant Dink's murder and urging the people of Turkey to "honor his legacy of tolerance." Notably, while the resolution does not explicitly refer to the events of 1915 as "genocide", it observes that before his death Dink was subjected to legal action in Turkey for doing so.
2) Last Sunday, Yasar Cihan (see photo), the leader of the Great Unity Party (BBP) in Trabzon and three other party officials, including Cihan's son Bahadir, were detained and taken to Istanbul for questioning in the Hrant Dink murder investigation. Cihan has since been released but the other members of the conservative and nationalist Turkish party were still being questioned.
According to the Turkish Daily News, Cihan admitted that, " Almost everyone in Trabzon knew there were plans to murder Hrant Dink." The TDN states that Cihan told the police that he knew both Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, the alleged main instigators of the murder.
A report in the Journal of Turkish Weekly alleges that Cihan admitted that he spoke by phone with Tuncel just a few days before the murder on a non-related matter. He also admitted to giving Yasin Hayal a sum of money while Hayal was in jail for the bombing of a Trabzon McDonald's some two years ago. Cihan insisted that the money was part of the assistance he regularly gives needy families.
As to why Yasar Cihan was detained in the first place remains murky. Some Turkish media reports say Cihan had in his possession a photo of him and another BBP member, along with Tuncel. Today's Zaman reports that Mushin Yazicioglu, the BBP's national leader, was also unclear why Cahin and the others were picked up for questioning.
In the meantime rumors persist that Tuncel, alleged to be a police informant, had warned the Trabzon police about the Hrant Dink murder plot some seventeen times before Trabzon authorities passed the information to the Istanbul police. Authorities have neither confirmed nor denied reports that Tuncel's phone conversations had been monitored and that records showed that two of the BBP detainees had been in phone contact with Tuncel.