By Shakeh Avoyan and Ruben Meloyan in Istanbul
Thousands of people again took to the streets of Yerevan to pay homage to the slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink on Wednesday.
A large crowd of mourners marched through the city center to a hilltop memorial to more than one million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks from 1915-1918. Some of them carried Dink’s pictures and banners holding the Turkish authorities responsible for his shock assassination.
The choice of the final point of the demonstration, organized by the Armenian Writers’ Union and the Yerevan municipality, was meant as a tribute to Dink’s public calls for Turkish recognition of the Armenian genocide which are believed to have cost him life. “We want the world to know that the genocide is continuing,” said one woman.
“I hope that Hrant Dink was the last victim of the genocide,” said another protester, a 14-year-old boy.
The protest came one day after Dink’s high-profile funeral in Istanbul that attracted tens of thousands of Turks. Thousands of them carried placards that read, “We are all Hrant Dink!” “We are all Armenians!”
Some mourners in Yerevan saw this as a sign of Turkish society’s greater readiness to come to terms with its bloody Ottoman past. “I’m sure ordinary Turks want peace and reconciliation,” said one of them.
But others were unconvinced. “I don’t believe in a changing Turkey,” said one middle-aged man.
In Istanbul, meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Dink’s widow and three children in a show of support for the family of the murdered editor of the bilingual newspaper “Agos.” Erdogan was also due to visit later in the day Patriarch Mesrob II, the spiritual leader of Turkey’s small Armenian community.
In a speech at Dink’s funeral mass on Tuesday, Mesrob urged the Turkish authorities to stop prosecuting intellectuals questioning the official Turkish version of the bloody events of 1915. He also called for an end to government propaganda portraying Turkey’s ethnic Armenians as “aliens and potential enemies.”
Many local Armenians seem worried about speaking out on the highly sensitive subject after Dink’s violent death. As one woman in Istanbul told RFE/RL, “We Armenians had better keep quiet now.”