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The Hrant Dink Foundation, founded after the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, said in a press release on May 29 that it received a written death threat via email and notified the Istanbul governors’s office and the Şişli police department regarding the issue.

“The email included the phrase ‘We may turn up one night, when you least expect it’, a slogan used boastfully in certain circles, and the very same slogan we were well used to hearing before Hrant Dink was so publicly assassinated, and with the knowledge of official bodies, on 19 January 2007. The threat accuses the Hrant Dink Foundation of telling ‘tales of fraternity’, demands us to leave the country and threatens Rakel Dink [Hrant Dink’s wife] and the foundation’s lawyer with death,” the foundation said in a statement.

“We may turn up one night, when you least expect it” was a phrase President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used before the Turkish military launched its cross-border “Operation Peace Spring” into northeastern Syria in October 2019. The same quote was used by Erdoğan before Turkey’s two others Syria operations named “Olive Branch” and “Euphrates Shield.”

Dink was shot dead on Jan. 19, 2007 in front of the apartment where Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos’s main office was located on the Halaskargazi Street of the Şişli district in Istanbul. 

Ogün Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the killing and was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail back in 2011.

The case grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that security forces had been aware of a plot to kill Dink but failed to act.

Relatives and followers of the case have long claimed government officials, police, military personnel and members of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) played a role in Dink’s murder by neglecting their duty to protect the journalist.

Dink was outspoken on the Armenian genocide and prosecuted a number of times under the Turkish penal code for “denigrating Turkey” and “insulting Turkish identity.”

His murder quickly came to symbolize the rising wave of nationalism in Turkey.

“The recent rise in unconstrained hate speech and racist, discriminatory discourse only serves to trigger, encourage and instigate such horrendous attitudes. It is the duty and responsibility of all actors engaged in politics in Turkey to work towards ensuring equality, freedom and justice for all citizens. We therefore believe that it is our duty to share this statement with the public to remind the authorities of their responsibilities and to emphasize the serious nature of the climate that has been created,” the Hrank Dink Foundation said in its statement.

The death threat comes in the aftermath of two recent attacks on Armenian churches in Istanbul.

An assailant on May 22 ripped off a cross outside Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Armenian Church in Üsküdar’s Kuzguncuk neigborhood, whereas another attempted to burn the entrance door of Dzınunt Surp Asdvadzadzni Armenian Orthodox Church in Bakırköy on May 8.