Speech Delivered By H.e. Ambassador Tuncay Babali On The Occasion Of The Commemoration Ceremony For Colonel Atilla Altikat, September 22nd, 2013
Honorable Minister Yelich,
Esteemed Deputy Ministers, Mr. Rosenberg and Ms. Biguzs, CBSA Vice President Mr. Brown, Distinguished members of the Canadian Parliament,
Fellow Ambassadors and High Commissioner, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Representatives of the Turkish Canadian community,
We are gathered here once again to remember all fallen diplomats around the world in particular Colonel Atilla Altıkat, Military Attaché of the Turkish Embassy, 31 years after he was assassinated at this junction in an act of terror. Unfortunately, this first anniversary of the inauguration of this monument coincided with the death of Annemarie Desloges, a CIC employee serving in Canadian diplomatic mission in Nairobi Kenya. Our deepest condolences go to the family and friends of the victim.
I would like to thank all of you and in particular the organizers of this annual commemoration, for keeping alive the memory of Colonel Altıkat, a great son of Turkey who left behind a grieving but proud, strong and solemn family. His daughter Zeynep was 17 years old and his son Göker was 4 years old at the time of the assassination.
Colonel Altıkat was one of the 42 Turkish diplomats whose lives were taken by the cowardly hand of terrorism in a series of attacks between 1973 and 1986. It was the first and only act of terrorism against a diplomat on this great land of freedom. I hope it remains to be the last as well. Unfortunately, international community was not cognizant of the dangers of terrorism in those years as we are today.
Unfortunately, only after the loss of many innocent lives by heinous attacks around the world, did the countries begin to recognize the evil nature of terrorism. Although the culprits of Colonel Altıkat’s assassination are still at large for more than 30 years, we still hope that Canada is able to bring them to justice.
Today, we have come to understand that terrorism is the enemy of entire humanity and that as the terrorist attack against Turkish Embassy last July in Mogadishu, Somalia which killed a Turkish security officer, yesterday’s brutal act of terrorism that killed a Canadian diplomat (Annemarie Desloges) in Nairobi, Kenya and many other attacks against diplomats from various countries all around the world showed us again and again, it is a plague which cannot be associated with any religion, race or nationality. Therefore, we need to recognize terrorism for what it is and wherever it is.
What remains a fact is that those who perpetrate terrorism are a disgrace to human kind, a threat to the culture of tolerance and an obstacle to peaceful dialogue and resolution of disputes.
Last year, with the leadership of Honorable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada honored Colonel Altıkat by erecting this monument in his memory. I am grateful to Minister Baird’s personal efforts to realize this symbolic yet very important monument here.
I had the pleasure of accompanying Honorable Minister Baird during his official visit to my country last week and was touched by his passion about this monument and his personal memoirs/feelings about the assassination that took place here 31 years ago.
I would like to underline the fact that the monument that we are gathered around today is named “the Fallen Diplomats Memorial” and dedicated to all diplomats and public servants who lost their lives when serving their countries abroad, not only Turkish and Canadian but all.
This is the ultimate sacrifice that a public servant can do for his/her beloved country and any recognition effort for this sacrifice will not be enough to their memories.
The monument was inaugurated last year on September 20th by H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Honorable Minister Baird.
Preceded by a deadly terrorist attack against the US Ambassador to Libya, the inauguration is a strong message to the world that Turkey and Canada will not stay silent against terrorism. I would like to highlight that it is the first monument in the world erected in honour of a slain diplomat and followed by other monuments erected in many other countries.
As many of you will remember, Colonel Altıkat’s wife Ayla Altıkat and daughter Zeynep and son Göker also attended the last year’s ceremony. This was the first time they were back in Canada. With her solemn and resolute stance and stoicism, Mrs. Altıkat showed us how a martyr’s family proudly bears their pain and carries the legacy of their loss. Mrs. Altıkat was also invited by Minister Davutoğlu as guest of honor at Annual Ambassadorial Conference at the beginning of this year and was introduced by the Minister to the audience as an exemplary mother, spouse and Turkish woman.
At the conference, she repeated the words she said at the inauguration ceremony last year that she doesn’t feel any animosity towards any nation or any person. But the pain in her eyes and face was quite visible. I talked to Mrs. Altıkat today prior to the ceremony and she uttered that she is very sad but proud and she wants the monument to be a beacon of peace and friendship.
Now, please allow me to add a few words in Turkish to our fellow Turkish Canadians.
Bugün burada herhangi bir grubu ya da halkı kınamak ya da hedef göstermek için toplanmadık. Amacımız terör belasına dikkat çekmek, Albayımızın kaybından kaynaklanan acımızı birlikteliğimize vesile yapıp bir anlamda dindirmek, ayrıca, nefreti ve düşmanlığı sona erdirmek amacıyla kalplerimizi kardeşliğe açmaktır.
Bu vesileyle, sizlerden bir kez daha milletçe birlik ve beraberliğimize gereken özen ve önemi vermenizi rica ediyorum. Ülkemizden kiminle karşılaşırsak, kökenine, ne zaman ve hangi nedenle geldiğine bakmadan dostluk elimizi uzatalım.
Onların hikâyelerini dinleyelim, acılarımızı, dertlerimizi ve mutluluklarımızı paylaşalım. Birlikte bir bardak çay içelim. Anadolu’dan dünyaya yayılan tüm insanların, milletlerin ve onların torunlarının bizim diasporamız olduğunu unutmayalım. Uzattığınız eller zaman zaman havada kalabilir. Ancak, Kanada’daki kısa tecrübemin bana gösterdiği gibi, ellerinizi samimiyetle uzattığınızda ve kollarınızı her açtığınızda sizi kucaklayacak pek çok gerçek dostlar bulacak ve şaşıracaksınız. Albay Altıkat’ın şehitliğinin, hınç ve düşmanlığın dostluğa çevrilmesine neden olması, aziz şehidimizin ruhunu ve ailesini de şad edecektir.
Bu duygu ve düşüncelerle sizleri saygıyla selamlıyor, şehit albayımıza ve dünyanın değişik yerlerinde görev yaparken şehit düşen tüm kamu görevlilerimize bir kez daha Allah’tan rahmet diliyor, aziz hatıraları önünde saygıyla eğiliyorum.
Thank you very much all for coming and sharing this very meaningful day with us.
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