Speech Delivered By H.e. Ambassador Selçuk Ünal On The Occasion Of The Commemoration Ceremony For Colonel Atilla Altıkat And Fallen Diplomats
(27 August 2015, Ottawa, Fallen Diplomats Memorial)
Honourable Senator Ann Cools, Senators and Members of Parliament,
Associate Deputy Minister of Veteran Affairs Ms. Ellis,
Assistant Deputy Minister of National Defence Mr. Venner,
Acting Assistant Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Gwozdecky,
Fellow Ambassadors and High Commissioners, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Representatives of the Turkish-Canadian community,
Mr. Michel Desloges,
I want to thank all of you for joining us on this meaningful day and place.
33 years ago today Colonel Atilla Altıkat, Military Attaché of the Turkish Embassy was assassinated by the Armenian terrorists at this very junction. It was an act of terror. Unfortunately, our world still continues to be a scene to terrorism and violence. We are once again gathered here to commemorate Colonel Altıkat and all fallen Turkish and international diplomats who lost their lives while serving their countries abroad as well as to condemn terrorism in all its forms.
Terrorism is a menace to humanity. It does not differentiate its targets by religion, ethnicity and geography. Likewise, it cannot be associated with any religion, race or nationality. No one and no country is immune. So it needs to be condemned without any “if”s and “but”s.
We diplomats live our lives in chapters. In many countries, we also become target to terrorism although our main responsibility is to preserve peace and be a bridge between peoples. The terror attack which was the first of its kind in Canada, took life of a foreign diplomatic representative. It closed the chapter for him. It was not only against a Turkish diplomat, but also against all Canadian values. It is regrettable that the killers and planners are still at large. Justice is not done. That is why, we did not and we will not close his chapter.
Of course, it was not the first and last time a diplomat targeted by terrorists. Colonel Altıkat was one of more than 40 Turkish diplomats whose lives were taken by a coward terrorism in a series of planned attacks between 1973 and 1986. Everybody in Ottawa remembers our Commercial Counsellor Kani Güngör paralized and died after attacked in 1982 and the Embassy ambush in 1985 where a Canadian guard Claude Brunelle was murdered. Actually in 1979 exactly today, Turkish Airlines office in Frankfurt was bombed by the same groups.
The first anniversary of this monument, and the commemoration ceremony in September 2013, unfortunately, coincided with another tragic event – a young Canadian diplomat Annemarie Desloges killed in the shopping mall attacks in Nairobi, Kenya, a day before the ceremony. Since then, this monument and commemoration ceremony have gained another meaningful dimension for all of us. We remember her dear memories whenever we gather here. That is why, I would like to thank Mr. Michel Desloges, the father of Ms. Annemarie Desloges for being here today. We have shared pains.
We share those pains with many. We would like to show our solidarity with all the countries who have lost diplomats in attacks all around the world. To name a few; the unfortunate losses of Glyn Berry who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006, the US Ambassador and members of the US Embassy to Libya in Benghazi in September 2012, the UN diplomat who was killed at the hotel attack in Mogadishu in March 2015. Last week on August 19th, we remembered another tragic incident. 22 UN aid workers were killed by a bomb attack at the UN Headquarters in Baghdad in 2003. That day was declared as the World Humanitarian Day by the UN General Assembly in memory of those 22 who were there only to save lives.
All these and many others which I cannot count now, made the ultimate sacrifice that a public servant, a diplomat, an international officer can do for their country and values. Any recognition effort for their sacrifices will not be enough to their memories. That is why, we shall remember them.
In such incidents, the victims, families and law enforcement agencies deserve separate, but equal attention.
The esteemed spouse of Colonel Altıkat whom I spoke before organisation of this ceremony kindly asked me to express her thanks to all present here today.
We know that there is great pain and emptiness in our life for our losses that will never fade away. However, for a better future we should not feed any animosity towards any nation or any person. We believe that souls of all fallen diplomats and camaradie could be relieved if this monument stands for peace, not for hatred. The only way to build a joint future is sharing all pains and paying respect to all lost lives in history. Commemoration of the Gallipoli Campaign after 100 years shows that we chose to confront our painful histories bravely, while continuing to honour the memories of the fallen. We succeeded in turning the tragedies of this war into a friendship among all those nations who never forget the past, but embrace the future for peace. We can only bury hatred when we mourn together for all of our sorrow, and cherish the memories of the ones departed us.
We also should be grateful to all who are trying to protect the public. Once again our special thanks go to the brave Ottawa police officers Superintendent Tyrus Cameron and Michelle Prudhomme who were the first reacting force in the Embassy ambush on 12 March 1985 thus saving many innocent lives.
In the same vein, recent terrorist attacks that we have been encountering in Turkey, show another face of this global issue. These terror attacks can never reach their ultimate goal. This is not just a statement of rhetoric, but a long-lasting determination to combat all forms of terrorism. Availing of this opportunity, I express my condolences and respect to the members of all law enforcement agencies who lost their lives by terrorist attacks.
We wish that this monument will be standing from here to eternity for peace and friendship. We will commemorate this day with the attendance of a larger community every year.
I wish to express my sincere thanks to the National Capital Commission, the Turkish Canadian community, in particular the Council of Turkish Canadians, our Turkish and Canadian friends who paid efforts to bring this monument into life. I want to especially thank Özerdinç brothers for their valuable contribution to construct this monument, to erect the plaque last year, and to have the monument cleaned once again.
I would like conclude by paying my deepest respect to the noble memories of all fallen diplomats and camaradie who sacrificed their lives in line of duty.
Allow me to say a few words in Turkish to our fellow Turkish Canadians.
Terörden en fazla etkilenen, acısını en derinden hisseden ve bugünlerde maalesef bir kez daha bu acıyla yüzleşmek zorunda kalan bir milletin fertleri olarak, hepimiz bu törenin gerçek anlamını biliyoruz.
Askeri Ataşemiz Albay Atilla Altıkat’ı ülkemizde ve bölgemizde bugün çeşitli yüzleriyle görmekte olduğumuz haince bir terör saldırısında kaybetmiştik. Ancak bizlere düşen, şehit Albayımızı ve görevleri başında hayatını kaybeden tüm şehitlerimizi layıkıyla anmak ve aziz hatıralarını yaşatmaktır. Zira, şehitlerimiz için en büyük acı yaptıkları fedakârlıkların unutulması olacaktır. Bu nedenle yarın akşam “Turkish Association of Canada” adlı diğer derneğimizin yapacağı düzenleme için de teşekkür ediyoruz.
Bugün burada Şehit Altıkat ve son günlerde ülkemizde hayatlarını kaybeden tüm şehitlerimizi anarken terörün her türlüsünü şiddetle lanetliyoruz. Ancak bu hiçbir zaman dostluk ve barışa olan inancımızı etkilemeyecektir. Terörün beslendiği nefret ve düşmanlığı sona erdirmek amacıyla, birlikteliğimize ve aynı paydada birleştiğimiz yüksek değerlere ısrarla ve sıkıca sarılmalıyız.
Bu vesileyle, bugün Kanada’nın farklı şehirlerinden buraya gelerek şehidimizin şahsında tüm şehitlerimizin aziz hatırasına sahip çıkan tüm yurttaşlarımıza içten saygı ve teşekkürlerimizi sunuyoruz. Çanakkale Zaferi’nin 100. yıldönümünün anıldığı bu yılda başta Albay Altıkat olmak üzere tüm şehitlerimize Allah’tan rahmet diliyor, aziz hatıraları önünde bir kez daha hürmetle eğiliyoruz.
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