Here’s the full speech of Fethiye Çetin, made for 11. commemoration of Hrant Dink.
“Welcome Sisters and Brothers,
Lovers of Justice and Truth,
The beautiful children of Hope, and of the Streets, Welcome,
Eleven years ago, they massacred Hrant Dink, here on this pavement by shooting him in the back of the neck.
Gendarmerie, police and intelligence officers, who months ago had begun to carry out research, and drew plans, and coordinated the team of triggermen, were waiting, on that day, along these pavements, in cafes, and at simit vendors, for the murder they had planned for a long time to be committed.
After they made sure that the murder had been committed according to plan, and that the triggermen had escaped, this time they pretended to carry out a murder investigation, whereas they were actually removing and spoliating evidence, and collecting camera footage they would later erase.
Although they had recorded the murder from beginning to end, they acted as if they were gathering evidence and carrying out an investigation. And this pretence has not ended since.
On that day, the State was here. The State was here with its police, its gendarmerie and its intelligence service. Not to ensure Hrant Dink’s safety of life and to protect his right to live, though, it was here to make sure that the triggermen did their job.
No doubt, the murder of Hrant Dink was not the first in a tradition of political murders and assassinations, and unfortunately, it was not the last either.
Yet the Hrant Dink murder led to a reaction in society that they had failed to calculate. It made people say, “This is enough!”. Hundreds of thousands of people came together at the funeral ceremony, and they have not managed to close the court file they wanted to close by laying the blame on a few triggermen.
Because you, and those who could not be here today, but are here with their hearts, the brave and good people of this country, for eleven years, despite the cold, the snow, the winter, the rain and the oppression, have not given up on demanding the truth, and demanding justice.
From the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey, from the single-party system to the multi-party system, from the regime of military tutelage to the one-man-regime, systems change, but the character, methods and tyranny of the state remains the same.
From the murder of Hasan Fehmi to Sabahattin Ali, from Abdi İpekçi to Doğan Öz, and from Uğur Mumcu to Musa Anter, all murders in which state officials took part in, the murderers of which have been protected, are part of the State’s “tradition of political assassination” and form a constituent part of the State’s existence.
Even though the names may be different the murderers are always the same: From the Hamidiye Corps to the Special Organization of the Ottoman Empire, from the Mobilization Investigation Councils to the Counter-guerrilla, from the Special Warfare Department to the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-Terror Unit… and today, from the Police Special Operations Team, the Gendarmerie Special Operations Team, to HÖH, the People’s Special Operations Team, that draws encouragement from this tradition, and is sure that it will be protected with an armour of impunity.
Once they joined ranks with “FETÖ” to lay waste to “ETÖ”, then they joined forces with “ETÖ” to lay all the blame on “FETÖ”.
Because the machine is the same machine, what changes is only the operators in charge. They might appear at poles apart, they might claim they want to scratch each other’s eyes out, but never mind all that, they are part and parcel of the same platform, of the same apparatus.
Their fight is restricted to taking over the State, and consolidating the emplacements they have taken over, in order to render permanent their position in power.
Democracy, peace, justice and human rights are not among their concerns.
But their nightmare is the same, and derives from the same fear: Truth and Justice.
To cover up the truth they are scared to death of is their first line of defence. Because they know that truth will be followed by justice, and that they will be held accountable for all the murders they committed, from the Armenian Genocide to Dersim, from Maraş to Sivas, from İlhan Erdost to Metin Göktepe, from Taybet İnan to Kemal Kurkut, to Sevag Balıkçı and from Hrant Dink to Tahir Elçi.
In order to conceal the truth, and to secure the continuance of their position in power, they form gangs and mobilize bloody murderers that will intimidate and destroy Armenians, Kurds, Alevis, leftists and dissidents, declared permanent enemies by the State. They commit new crimes to cover up their past crimes.
What is more, this is the same the world over. The mechanism called the State suppresses, with blood, violence and atrocity, each and every search for freedom, and demand for equality and justice. But then it finds Prometheus, Spartacus, Rosa Parks, Mandela, Martin Luther King, Gandhi and the Mothers of the Plaza Del Mayo standing in its way.
And many other figures of resistance, the names we have not named, or do not even know…
And in the end, those who resist win. Mandela gets out of prison, the racist state system is razed to the ground, and he becomes President. In India, Gandhi and his supporters kick colonialist Britain out of the country. Rosa Parks gets on the bus from whichever door she likes, and sits at whichever seat she fancies.
And so, fourteen years ago, in order to cover up a hundred-year-old truth, they decided to cast Hrant Dink aside. They carried out their fight for power over his life. And today, too, they continue to carry out their fight using his name, this time, appropriating the court case.
They murdered Hrant Dink eleven years ago, and they continue to abuse him for their own internal feuds.
They wrote a new script they wanted us to believe, and they want us to give up coming after them. According to this new script, Hrant’s murderers are the group who they stood side by side yesterday, but today has lost the war for power they had between themselves.
Each script you write is a small part of the truth, and you cannot fool us with such tricks, take note: we want the truth itself, we want all the truth. We know that it is very difficult. However, we will not stop pointing to the perpetrator, or judging the perpetrator.
“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” (Albert Einstein)
As in other, similar countries of the world, on these lands, too, the tyrant has always drawn his power from his audience, he consolidated his power with his supporters, “crime” was decriminalized with the tacit approval of the onlookers. The perpetrators of crime were not tried, and the crimes went unpunished.
So the 1915 Genocide, too, did not only render its viewers eye-witnesses, this act of great evil turned the rest of society into accomplices. Only those who resisted, those who objected to injustice remained standing with clean hands.
They created a new state, a new nation, but peace did not come to these lands. They took hold of power, but they never found comfort.
Because, as Levinas says: “Absolute power over the other is only possible by murder. However, when you murder someone, the thing one desires power over is also dead.”
Because as long as you do not confront the Genocide, that act of great evil, then the continuation of that violence that has taken our lives hostage is inevitable, and that is exactly what happened.
Because, like Arendt reminds us, “if evil has been committed once, then there is no reason whatsoever for it not to happen again. What has been lived is inscribed in consciousness, and it belongs to the future as much as it belongs to the past.”
We are now passing through days when we hear the footsteps of evil that pose an absolute threat to our lives louder each day.
The State of Emergency has been rendered continuous and permanent.
The co-chairs and members of parliament of a legal party have been rounded up and imprisoned, elected mayors have been dismissed. Journalists and rights defenders have been locked up for the sake of dirty dealings with other states.
Freedom of expression has been abolished. Newspapers, televisions have been closed, books have been banned.
With government decrees, hundreds of thousands of workers have been discharged with no court ruling. And as if that were not enough, Nuriye and Semih, who began their hunger strike demanding their jobs back, were imprisoned.
Work murders, femicides have reached the scale of a massacre.
It is not people and lives that are taken away. A whole neighbourhood, the neighbourhood of Sur, also known as the Giaour Neighbourhood, that in itself was a symbol with historical monuments including the Kurşunlu Mosque, Surp Giragos Church and the Four-Legged Minaret, was flattened completely within a period of a few months; of course, under the supervision of the State. Parks, monuments and cemeteries were destroyed, churches were damaged. Even dead bodies and lifeless bones were tortured.
And as if that was not enough, with a new government decree that encourages, and even goads civilians on to commit crimes, and with the news of a new armed training camp emerging each day, preparations are made for further crimes and massacres.
Will this society, which has failed to cope with the heavy and shameful load of the past, face new and heavy shame?
Have we nothing but shame to leave our children, the future of this society?
Of course we have,
It is still possible to leave our children not the shame of crimes and atrocity, but a culture of living together with our differences, a culture of resisting injustice and tyranny. In order to do this;
It is time to become Tahir Elçi and resist violence and defend peace,
to stand with the Academics for Peace, and to shout, at the top of our voice, “We Will Not Be a Party to This Crime”,
to seek, with the Saturday Mothers, with persistence and perseverance, the graves and murderers of our children,
to lease new life, like Osman Kavala, to dialogue between peoples, to a will to live together, to the culture, art and song of Anatolia,
and to stand with the lawyers who, for 42 weeks now, have held a Justice Watch for rights, law and justice, at a time when judges and prosecutors have buried their head in the sand, and bar association do nothing but make timid statements.
In the person of Ahmet Şık, it is time to add our voices to all journalists who refuse to bow down to tyranny, and continue to stand firm,
In the person of Nuriye and Semih, to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rightful struggle of all those who are resisting the tyranny of government decrees,
And to cry out, like Teacher Ayşe, “Do Not Let Children Die!”
How will we do it?
The street is life, it is a zone of freedom, let us learn from women, and let us not abandon the streets,
Come, let’s not follow the route of murderers and thieves, let us walk along the path of Hacı Halil, who faced all manners of danger to protect his Armenian neighbours, and the Lice Governor Hüseyin Nesimi who objected to the killing of the Armenians and paid for it with his life.
Let us become Hrant Dink, let us join arms, and embrace this huge world to put love in it.
Come, let us become Hrant Dink, to form the broadest front for peace, democracy, a culture of living together and dialogue.
We are of the kin, who since time immemorial, has fought for justice, freedom, equality and peace, we are of those who have sought to turn the hell they live in into paradise. We have done it before; we can do it again.”
translated by Nazım Dikbaş