A suspect who sent a death threat to the Hrant Dink Foundation and an assailant who ripped off a cross outside an Armenian church in Istanbul have been detained, Turkey’s interior minister said on May 30.
“The provocateur who broke the cross of a church in Kuzguncuk [neighborhood in Üsküdar district] was caught within 24 hours; the provocateur who e-mailed threats to the Hrant Dink Foundation was caught immediately. We will not allow any provocation. Trust the Turkish police,” Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on his Twitter account.
Last week, a man was seen in footage dismantling the cross outside the Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Armenian Church in the historical Kuzguncuk neighborhood, before fleeing the scene.
In another incident earlier this week, the Hrant Dink Foundation – founded in memory of the slain Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink — informed the police that they had received an anonymous e-mail, threatening them and Dink’s wife, Rakel Dink, they “may turn up one night, when you least expect it.” The email contained messages threatening Rakel Dink and the foundation’s lawyer with death, the foundation said in a statement.
The location of the suspect, identified only by the initials H.A., was determined to be in the Central Anatolian province of Konya and was taken to Istanbul for further questioning.
The Turkish police are on duty and are continuing to thwart all provocations, the spokesperson of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Ömer Çelik, said on his Twitter account.
Turkey will do all it can to prevent the breaking of fraternity and peace between Turks and members of minority communities, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said in a tweet on May 30.
Turkish official regrets act of hate on minority churchTurkish official regrets act of hate on minority church
Citing the hate crime against the Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Armenian Church, he said that the incident was “a source of sorrow” and will “not go unpunished” as officials will follow the judicial process.
He stressed the Turkish government will stand against any act to harm brotherhood in Turkey and said his country would do “everything it can” to prevent the disruption of peace. Altun said he called the chair of the Surp Krikor Armenian Church Foundation, Edvard Ayvazyan, and conveyed his sorrow over the incident.
Hrant Dink, a founder and editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos newspaper, was gunned down in broad daylight in front of his Istanbul office in 2007 by Ogün Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high school dropout and an ultranationalist. Samast confessed to the killing and was sentenced to more than 20 years in jail.
The final result of Dink’s murder case has long been awaited, with his family and friends continuing on the quest for justice.