The University of Iowa

Hrant Dink, 1954 - 2007

Truth telling is essential to democracy—which is why truth tellers are often targeted by those who distrust the idea of government of, by, and for the people. Ideologues have a notoriously difficult relationship to the truth, which inevitably raises questions about the certainties integral to the maintenance of their power—questions that can lead to their downfall; hence their hostility to independent spirits like Hrant Dink, a tireless advocate of free speech. His determination to speak truth to power about his country’s past and present was vital to its body politic; however complicated and compromising the truth might be, it remains the sturdiest foundation upon which to build. Good decisions depend upon the truth. And this brave journalist understood that for Turks and Armenians alike there is no other route to a common future than to seek the truth. "Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news/ Hath but a losing office,” the Earl of Northumberland says in the first scene of Henry IV, Part II, “and his tongue/ Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,/ Rememb’red tolling a departing friend.” The “unwelcome news” that Hrant Dink brought to Turkey and now to the wider world is that those who will not reckon with their past are doomed to a violent future. The bell ringing in the Armenian Church tolls for democracy’s greatest friend, the truth.

Originally written by Christopher Merrill for Agos, the Turkish and Armenian language weekly paper formerly edited by Hrant Dink.

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