Hrant Dink's Famous Article "23.5th April"
Below is an article written by Hrant Dink, published in the Agos newspaper on April 23, 1996 and devoted to two topics: Children's Day in Turkey that is annually celebrated on April 23, and the Day of Grief and Remembrance of the Armenian People, dedicated to the genocide on April 24, 1915.
April 23rd is a very important ‘white’ day in the history of a nation that came out of decades of pain. On this day, the axiom “Sovereignty belongs to the nation and to the nation alone,” was strengthened in parliament. It is the date of possibly the cleverest foresight of the Turkish nation. What a nice bringing together of “future” and “children.” And what a nice thought it is to decide to share April 23rd with all the children of the world. Happy children’s day to Turkish children and the children of the world.
For the Armenian nation, “scattered” to all corners of the world, April 24th is a very significant ‘black’ day. As soon as a few Armenians come together, they immediately take to the streets with their placards. What is the reason behind all this, why do these people take to the streets on April 24th? Let’s go back to the dawn of April 24, 1915. The Armenians in Istanbul, especially the intellectuals, authors, artists, teachers, lawyers, doctors and officials are rounded up from their houses one by one. They are taken away… and do not return. This date is the beginning of the “Historical Armenian Tragedy” that spread to the rest of the Ottoman Empire within days.
I don’t know who can understand this, but to be both Armenian and from Turkey, to celebrate April 23rd with all its joy and to experience the next day with all its sadness… How many other people experience this dilemma? It is neither easy to understand nor to explain.
I hope no one has to live through this dilemma again. How can April 23rd be celebrated more joyously? How can April 24th be erased from the memories? In actual fact, these are not insolvable questions. If April 23rd is for all the children to celebrate, I say it should somehow become Armenian children’s as well. Invite them to these celebrations too. Reconcile the children, introduce them to one another… And do not limit it to April 23rd, involve April 24th too. Make those days even longer, include the whole of April, even the whole of spring. Let’s say you are unable to do this, that existing animosities obstruct this. Then leave the world to the children, they will take care of this, just as long as you don’t get in the way.
April 23rds are very special for me indeed. It is also the day I got married to my lovely wife. The night that connects April 23rd to April 24th is the night we gave life to our first child. Not April 23rd, and not the 24th. Perhaps that moment is 23.5 April.
Translated from Turkish.