Speech Delivered By H.e. Ambassador Selçuk Ünal On The Occasion Of The Commemoration Ceremony For Colonel Atilla Altıkat And Fallen Diplomats
Speech Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Selçuk Ünal on the occasion of the Commemoration Ceremony for Colonel Atilla Altıkat and Fallen Diplomats
(27 August 2018, Monument of Fallen Diplomats, Ottawa)
Honourable Senators and Members of Parliament,
Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of Global Affairs Canada, Members of the National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, Members of the Turkish Canadian Community, Fellow Citizens and Dear Friends,We are commemorating the 36th anniversary of the loss of Colonel Atilla Altıkat, Military Attaché of the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa. His assassination was described in detail a while ago.
He was shot ten times when he stopped for a red light in his car at this very intersection. As Canadian press reported the other morning, the “long shadow of hatred” had reached Ottawa that day.
His sacrifice paved the way to the commemoration of all other fallen diplomats in the line of duty when this monument was inaugurated in 2012.
Armenian terror organisations have claimed the lives of 34 Turkish diplomats, Altıkat being 23rd.
Considering the number of personnel of those years, this figure corresponded to approximately 4% of the Turkish diplomatic staff. This is an extraordinary percentage in diplomatic history. As members of the Turkish diplomatic service, we did not allow these attacks to deter us. To the contrary, we stood out.
Despite this terrible event, the 30 August Victory Day reception was realized also to honour his memory. The Embassy stood out. Turkish-Canadians who were present at that reception would remember: Another bitter memory about the reception was the new Ambassador. Ambassador Benler who had arrived in Ottawa just four days before the anniversary of his son’s murder by Armenian terrorists nearly three years ago. Despite the fact that his 28 year old son, Ahmet Benler, a PhD candidate at a university in the Netherlands, had been assasinated in much the same way in his car on 12 October 1979; Ambassador, with a new sorrow in his heart, adamantly spoke to the Canadian press at the reception and said that “I will not let anyone scare me”.
The heinous crime against Colonel Altıkat was not the first attempt against Turkish officials in Canada. 4 months earlier, on 8 April 1982, Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy Mr. Kani Güngör was shot and resultantly paralyzed for life.
On 12 March 1985, our Embassy was ambushed and Turkish diplomats were taken hostage with the primary target being to burn the Embassy and also to kill Ambassador Coşkun Kırca of the time. This attack resulted in the tragic loss of 31 year old Canadian Claude Brunelle (Nova Scotia), security guard on duty that day. After signalling the alarm and informing the authorities of the attack, Brunelle bravely stood out and resisted the attack by shooting back. Ironically, he was studying international relations, and was reportedly wishing to be a diplomat.
We were and are grateful to the Ottawa police and its brave officers Superintendent Tyrus Cameron and Michelle Prudhomme who were the first reacting force in the ambush on that day. They surely saved already injured Ambassador’s life - and later the others’.
Armenian terror organisations took responsibility for those two attacks as well. There were other attacks in Montreal and Toronto towards other Turks and Canadians, last one being a foiled attempt to bomb Toronto subway.
Turkey continues to be the target of various terrorist organisations. On 15 July 2016, a sinister group, namely the Fethullahist Terror Organization, nesting within the army and different public agencies attempted a military coup using fighter jets, tanks and helicopters.
The Parliament was bombed by F-16s while resisting the plotters, police and public buildings were attacked by helicopters, people in the streets were shot by fighter jets, tanks and helicopters resulting with the murder of 250 citizens and injuring 2,200.
However, this was not enough to break the resolve of the Turkish nation.
Clenching together, we were able to thwart this heinous attack. Taking this opportunity, I would also like to remember our martrys, the loss of innocent lives on that day.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We all know too well that Turkey is not an isolated case and we are not the only diplomats being targeted.
Members of the Canadian and other country foreign representatives have also been assassinated, fallen victim to attacks or taken hostage. Recently a plaque was unveiled at the entrance of Global Affairs to remember the Canadian diplomats lost to terrorism.
The first anniversary of this monument and the commemoration ceremony of Colonel Altıkat in September 2013 coincided with another tragic event. Ayoung Canadian diplomat, Annemarie Desloges was killed in the shopping mall attacks in Nairobi, Kenya a day before the ceremony - being one of the five maple leaves at the entrance of the Global Affairs.
Since then, this monument and commemoration ceremony has gained another meaningful dimension for all of us. We also take this occasion to remember her dear memories, as well as many other innocent lives lost to senseless acts of terror. I would like to reiterate our condolences for the family of Ms. Desloges.
The sorrow we share strengthens our resolve and conviction to stand up against barbarism and hatred. The monument we stand in front of today is a testament to this fact and will remain from here to eternity, as a symbol of our resilience in the quest for peace and friendship. Among many, there is a bridge named after Altıkat in his hometown Adana and, as reported by his wife, a park in Büyükada, İstanbul was recently named after him by him comrade-in-arms and friends. Mrs. Altıkat of whom we are in constant touch sends her best wishes to all of you here.
I wish to express my sincere thanks to the National Capital Commission, not only for preserving it, but also for the recent maintenance, the Turkish Canadian community of Ottawa, in particular the Council of Turkish Canadians for the organization of this commemoration, representatives of Turkish Canadian community in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto for being with us today, Turkish and Canadian friends for their efforts in bringing this monument into life. Sincere thanks also go to the Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces.
I want to further thank Özerdinç brothers for their valuable contribution in the construction of this monument, in the erection of the plaque.
I would like conclude by paying my deepest respect to the noble memories of all fallen diplomats and those who have sacrificed their lives in line of duty.
Now, with the permission of our Canadian friends, I would like to repeat a few words in Turkish to my fellow Turkish Canadians.
Askeri Ataşemiz Kurmay Pilot Albay Atilla Altıkat’ı, hain saldırının 36. yıldönümünde rahmetle ve saygıyla bir kez daha anıyoruz. Acımız ilk günkü kadar tazedir.
Kurmay Albay Altıkat’ın ve görevleri başında hayatını kaybeden tüm şehitlerimizin aziz hatıralarının yaşatılması büyük önem taşımaktadır. Zira, teröre verilebilecek en iyi yanıt, saldırıların bizi zayıflatmaktan ziyade güçlendirdiğini göstermektir. Şehitlerimizin fedakârlıkları unutulmamalı, unutturulmaya çalışılmasına izin verilmemelidir.
250 vatandaşımızın öldürüldüğü, 2.200’ünün yaralandığı ve Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi’nin tarihinde ilk kez bombalandığı FETÖ’nün darbe girişimi sırasında şehit ve gazi olan aziz vatandaşlarımızı da saygıyla anıyoruz. Terörün acısını derinden hisseden bir milletin fertleri olarak, terörle omuz omuza mücadele ederek başarıya ulaşacağız.
Bugün Kanada’nın farklı şehirlerinden buraya gelerek şehidimizin şahsında tüm şehitlerimizin aziz hatırasına sahip çıkan sizlere içten saygı ve teşekkürlerimi sunuyorum. Albay Altıkat olmak üzere tüm şehitlerimize Allah’tan rahmet diliyor, aziz hatıraları önünde bir kez daha minnet ve hürmetle eğiliyoruz.
Bu vesileyle, Malazgirt Zaferi’nin 947. yıldönümünü bir kez daha hatırlamak ve Kurtuluş Savaşımızın zaferle sonuçlandığı, milletimizin özgür ve bağımsız yaşama iradesini tüm gücüyle ortaya koyduğu 30 Ağustos Zafer Bayramımızı da şimdiden kutlamak istiyoruz. Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk ve silah arkadaşlarıyla en zor koşullarda başlayan varolma mücadelemizin başarıya ulaşmasında şehit ve gazi olan, Milli Mücadele’de emeği geçen milletimizin her ferdini bir kez daha saygı ve minnetle anıyoruz.
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