Secret Operation Attila

Keghart.com Editorial Board, 22 August 2012

The Armenian-Canadian community received a bracing pounce in its collective solar plexus when the “Ottawa Citizen” reported, on August 12, that the Turkish Embassy was secretly erecting a giant monument at the intersection of two major roads in Ottawa–Canada’s capital–to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the slaying of Col. Attila Altikat at that location in 1982. Although the killer of the military attaché has never been identified, some believe the ASALA organization was responsible for the assassination. The statue will be unveiled on August 27.

The Turkish “HaberMonitor” described the Ottawa monument as “a success of Turkish diplomacy” and said it was to balance Armenian monuments [commemorating the Genocide of Armenians] “planted” in a dozen locations around the world.

Keghart.com Editorial Board, 22 August 2012

The Armenian-Canadian community received a bracing pounce in its collective solar plexus when the “Ottawa Citizen” reported, on August 12, that the Turkish Embassy was secretly erecting a giant monument at the intersection of two major roads in Ottawa–Canada’s capital–to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the slaying of Col. Attila Altikat at that location in 1982. Although the killer of the military attaché has never been identified, some believe the ASALA organization was responsible for the assassination. The statue will be unveiled on August 27.

The Turkish “HaberMonitor” described the Ottawa monument as “a success of Turkish diplomacy” and said it was to balance Armenian monuments [commemorating the Genocide of Armenians] “planted” in a dozen locations around the world.

To penetrate the roots of the covert Turkish operation one has to go back to more than a year when Ankara announced it would launch a brand-new anti-Armenian campaign to counteract publicity related to the upcoming centenary of the Genocide. A strand of the Turkish strategy was to demonstrate Turks as victims of Armenians. Rafet Akgunay, Turkish ambassador to Canada, went to action and approached the government of Canada, the city of Ottawa, and the National Capital Commission (NCC) for permission to erect a monument in Canada’s capital. The application, lobbying and permission were undertaken super hush-hush so as “to prevent possible interventions by the Armenian lobby,” reported “Hurriet Daily News.”

After receiving permission, Akgunay commissioned Turkish sculptor Necmettin Yagri to create the monument. Six months later, he approved Yagri’s concept. It took another six months for the semi-circular steel-and-wood monument to be built. It’s a huge, semi-circular structure, measuring six metres by three metres. The pieces [40 crates] were flown to Canada in July by the Turkish Airlines gratis and were assembled on site, under white tarp, by Turkish workers. In mid-August, when an “Ottawa Citizen” staffer photographed the assembly work, a Turkish worker photographed him in return.

Why did Ottawa approve the sneaky Turkish propaganda project is a mystery.  Another puzzle is how the clandestine operation was kept under cover, for more than a year, when so many people were involved in its realization. Another enigma is the writing on the plaque. A week before the unveiling of the structure the Turkish Embassy and Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird persisted in stonewalling and not divulging the plaque’s text.  To counteract possible Armenian protests, the Turkish embassy has cagily said that the monument is “not just for Turkish victims, but all members of the diplomatic community who have met with calamity while trying to represent their nation’s interests and further the cause of peace.” Now, who could be against peace? Thus the monument is in honor of a Turkish diplomat while simultaneously commemorates the diplomats of 195 countries around the globe. If that’s not universalism than Sultan Abdul Hamid II was no butcher. Perhaps it also honors Dag Hammarskjold, Patrice Lumumba and Julius Caesar.

Armenian-Canadians are naturally puzzled by many aspects of this furtive stunt. They are particularly shocked that the Canadian government has fallen prey to Ankara’s latest propaganda gimmick in our own country. Hon. Stephen Harper’s government was the first Canadian government to recognize the Genocide of Armenians, despite Turkish threats of retaliation. Mr. Harper’s ethical stand, through annual proclamations on April 24 acknowledging the Genocide, has been steadfast, despite incessant high-pressure lobbying by Turkey’s diplomats in our country. The prime minister has demonstrated similar principled stand on behalf of human rights around the globe and recognized the Rwanda Genocide and the Ukrainian Holodomor. He has not buckled under Chinese threats re Beijing’s policy in Tibet. So why did the same Harper government yield to Turkey—a much weaker country than China and an insignificant trading partner?

Why give in to Turkish blackmail and single out Col. Attila and memorialize him in particular when countless other diplomats—including Canadian—go without lofty monuments? Why abet the high-pressure Turkish tactics?

Did the Canadian government concede to Turkish demands because of behind-the-scenes maneuvering by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and his cohorts?  Since the days of deputy foreign minister Paul Heinbecker (his wife is Turkish) that ministry has been infested with opportunist turcophiles. In his position as foreign affairs minister Hon. Baird is responsible for the NCC.

In the past few years Ankara has also invited Canadian MPs and senators to “familiarization” junkets. Some of these wined-and- dined politicians have returned home singing Turkish Hosannas, and lobbied to rescind Canada’s recognition of the Genocide.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that Hon. Baird has many Turks in his Ottawa riding. There’s no doubt that he was the clandestine point man in pressuring the government to give the necessary permits for the Turkish monument on Canadian soil.

Armenians are also shocked that the federal government gave the green light to the blatant Turkish ruse when in recent years Ottawa has advocated a policy of dialogue and reconciliation between the Armenian and Turkish communities. Didn’t the government realize that in yielding to the Turkish ambassador’s demands Ottawa has helped sow further discord between the two communities? The decision could also become a catalyst which could spread hatred of Armenians in this country.  And for what if not to advance Ankara’s campaign against Armenians?

The mysterious Turkish operation, in collaboration with the Canadian government and the city of Ottawa makes one wonder about its covert nature and the statement that Armenians might prevent its realisation. As the reporter for the “Ottawa Citizen” pointed out “if the project was kept secret to prevent possible interventions by the Armenian lobby, does this not suggest there will be ongoing concern once the monument is unveiled?” The writer then wondered whether the government would “post guards 24/7.” The reporter needn’t worry that Armenians might destroy the monument. We are not racist Turks who go around the world defacing, destroying monuments to million martyrs.

We would like to inform the Harper government of another con game Ankara has up its sleeve. To silence Canadian proclamations on the Genocide, Turkey will soon spring Canada’s internment policies of the First World War. At the time Canada interred Ukrainians, Poles, Serbs, Jews, Arabs, Assyrians, Greeks… and about 100 Turkish citizens. Turkey plans to tell Canada “how dare you criticize the internment of Armenians when Canada, in the same period, was interning Turks?” The surrealist joke is that many of the “Turks” Ankara will cite are Armenian…as citizens of Ottoman Turkey they were considered Turks. That’s more chutzpah than the poor-mouthing fraudster banksters of Wall Street.

As this week Armenian organizations and lobbyists scramble for damage control we would like to mention the 800-strong Armenian “community” of Ottawa. While the group couldn’t have foreseen or have prevented the monument calamity, it’s a sad fact that the Armenians living in the nation’s capital are disorganized and diffuse. This is their opportunity to work together for the advancement of the Armenian Cause.

The Armenian lobby should once and for all get its act together. While we still have an office in Ottawa (manned three days a week by an Armenian National Committee officer from Montreal plus a part-time assistant), we need a more solid presence in Ottawa. But the fully-manned office will not be a panacea: it will limp along, unless Armenian communities across the country support it by lobbying for local politicians. Lobbying also means supporting local politicians by contributing to their election campaigns in time and money. It’s the height of irresponsibility to assume that one person in an Ottawa office can singlehandedly do an effective job in representing us in the capital when the opposition has brigades of Turkbeijani spokespeople.

Meanwhile, we need—and fast–a pan-Armenian effort to combat the recent Turkish outrage. Our organizations should get together and denounce the Turkish blackmail of Canada and demand that the plaque text be amended, if it’s offensive to Armenians. We should also insist that the rumored phrase “condemn terrorism” be changed to “condemn terrorism, including state terrorism.” As well, we believe words like “Armenian terrorists” can induce harassment of innocent Armenian-Canadians. Already federal security officers have, in the past weeks, questioned a number of Montreal Armenians, and demanded their opinion re the Ankara monument. We encourage Armenians to express their outrage to Hon. Baird, with copies to the prime minister and to Hon. Jason Kenney. Armenian-Canadian organizations should also demand that Canada honor the memory of 1.5 million by erecting a monument in Ottawa. After all, the grandparents and great-grandparents of most Armenian-Canadians were slain by Turkey while the present Ankara government continues to deny what’s as clear as the blood-red flag of Turkey.

Finally, the Turkish con game in Ottawa is not a solo act. As we approach the centenary of the Genocide Armenians should expect similar cynical propaganda tactics by Ankara. Armenians around the world should anticipate these stunts and scotch them before they are realized, as they tragically have in Ottawa.

Write to: Hon. John Baird at [email protected]   Please C.C. the prime minister’s office at [email protected]   and  Hon. Jason Kenney at [email protected] Write also to your local MP; after all, all politics is local.

 

24 comments
  1. A letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

    John Baird, P.C., M.P.  
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
     
     
    The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P.
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Ottawa, Ontario
     
    Dear Mr. Baird,
     
    It is with interest that I read a report that a monument is being erected in Ottawa to commemorate the assassination of a Turkish diplomat in 1982.

    The killing of innocent people must always be condemned, which is why the killings of innocent Armenians during the Armenian Genocide in Turkey that took place between 1915 and 1923 must also be condemned and remembered.
     
    Your government has taken the most credible stand in recognizing the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and Turkey in 1915-1923. I urge you and your government to be consistent in its intentions, and to recognize the Armenian Genocide as a historical fact during the unveiling of the monument on August 27.
     
    The assassination of a Turkish diplomat in 1982 is unmistakably tied to the fact of the anger caused by lack of recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the international community at the time. Thankfully, your government has joined the league of many nations who have unwaveringly recognized the fact of the Armenian Genocide.
     
    Yours sincerely,
     
    Artur Gevorgyan, MD, MSc, FRCSC
    Otolaryngologist – Head and Neck Surgeon
    Toronto, ON
    1. Misleading statement

      The last paragraph of Dr. Gevorgyan's letter to Hon. John Baird is very misleading, to say the least. There is no proof that "the assassination of a Turkish diplomat in 1982" was executed by an Armenian.

      The editorial's statement "the killer of the military attaché has never been identified" is the accepted version.

      1. If You Think

        Dear Noubar,

        If you think the last paragraph is misleading, why don't you join me and others in composing a better paragraph or letter and making sure the rest of the 100,000-strong Canadian-Armenian community joins in with their letter?

        Please, let me know if i can help with anything. Thanks.

        Artur

  2. I don’t get it

    I don't get it.  Why does anyone think this is anything bad.

    Any passerby, whatever the plaque will say, will ask:

    OK, someone killed this poor diplomat, but why?

    And then it all unfolds…

    Armenians should pay tribute to whomever had this brilliant idea.

    Berge

  3. RoA Embassy in Ottawa
    Doesn't RoA have an embassy in Ottawa?

    Why the editorial has not mentioned it or questioned what the embassy is doing, or will it do anything?

    Of course embassies do not tell to the public what they do, but probably in this case the staff may consult with the Armenian community in Canada. Will they?

  4. The fruits of apathy
    These things happen when despite the so-called "best efforts" of our organizations (whether in Canada or the US), too many Armenians remain inactive or apathetic.

    And forget Armenia itself.  Its leaders are too busy lining their own pockets.

  5. Turkish Colonel

    I think the Turkish colonel's killer was a member of the PKK. He was of Kurdish/Turkish descent. I don't know what the Ottawa monument has to do with the reality of the Genocide of Armenians. I am sure the monument will remind passing motorists of the truth of the Genocide of Armenians…something which Jihadist Turks have campaigned for a century to cover up.

  6. A suggestion probably most people won’t like

    Here is an idea. Let the Turkish Embassy construct the memorial piece. On each April 24 Armenians may gather in the vicinity with appropriate well displayed large posters telling the story of the Genocide of Armenians.

    People will remember GENOCIDE and forget about Atilla, which incidentally is a name associated with atrocities.

    Thank you Turkey.

    1. Norair’s Suggestion

      Norair, I like your logic. Look for the opportunity. If the monument is built, what can be done to promote the truth. Public opinion is influenced by clear and articulate statements, not complex arguments that only the principals will comprehend. Very creative thought.

  7. Attila Monument

    I hope Armenian-Canadian community leaders and lobbyists are aware that earlier this month officials from the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles met a Pasadena city official to halt plans by the city to erect a monument dedicated to the Genocide of Armenians.

    As you said in your editorial, these are all part of a world-wide Turkish government campaign to reduce the impact of the centenary of the Genocide of Armenians by thwarting the building of Armenian monuments and pushing for Turkish monuments, like the one in Ottawa.

  8. Needle in a Haystack?

    Excuse my ignorance, but who the heck is this Attila person? Is he on the same level as Kemal Ataturk? I do  not think so.

    I cannot comment on the decisions of Canadian MPs and ministers, but couldn't this be a case of: "OK, Turkey, just build your wretched monument and let's move on!" ?

    If Turkey is doing this to counteract our genocide monuments in Western cities,  then they just searched for a needle in a haystack and came up with this Attila person. They would have to look for many such needles in a haystack, if they wish to compete with our Genocide monuments. If, on the other hand, there is the slightest insinuation that this Attila person was murdered by Armenians, then the argument broadens and I believe it can still serve to our advantage. If  he was not murdered by Armenians, then what have we got to get all excited about?

    We can use this to our own advantage once we get the facts right.
     

  9. Monument for Attila

    Regarding the secrecy, for more than a year, of this charade makes me wonder why it was not covered by the Ottawa media prior to August 12. After all, Turkey's man in the nation's capital needed Ottawa city hall's permission. Such a request is tabled, debated, and voted upon. Media attends these city council meeting as a matter of course. I am wondering whether permission was granted, without the request being tabled, so as to prevent the media from learning about it. Was Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird behind the presumed furtive–if not illegal–operation? Just asking.

  10. Turkish Monument in Ottawa

    The erection of a Turkish monument in memory of a Turkish diplomat's assassination in Ottawa is reprehensible. There are thousands of heroes in Canada, USA and elsewhere who should be honored. There were genocides during the 20th century which have gone unaddressed. They should be memorialized. The heroes…for their courageous martyrdom. The victims of genocide, as a statement of man's inhumanity to man. Ottawa must reconsider its unfortunate decision.
    Thank you.

  11. Misleading Dates

    Why is it that the massacres prior to 1915 are never mentioned and are limited to 1915-1923?

  12. Col. Attila in Wikepedia

    According to Wikepedia, "Colonel Attila Altikat was a Turkish military attaché to Ottawa, Canada who was assassinated in 1982. The Armenian terrorist group, Justice Commandos Against Armenian Genocide, claimed responsibility. The act was forcefully condemned by the Prime Minster of Canada, Pierre Trudeau.”

    We also condemn assassination of diplomats, including Turkish diplomats, as much as we condemn killing of 1.5- million Armenians with an intent to wipe a race out. This monument will symbolize wrongful killing.

  13. Killing is wrong

    Killing is wrong, no matter for what reason… Turks have had ample time to reflect and atone for sins of their fathers  but if they choose to follow and worship the Envers and Talaats along with Hitlers and Stalins of history, then they only have themselves to blame for the punishment that the Almighty has in store for their likes.

    Sadaka Allahou Al-Azim, Inshallah

  14. No Proof

    The Attila assassination investigation has not proved that Armenians were responsible for it. Therefore, Armenians should take the Canadian and Turkish governments to court. Period.

  15. For the Birds

    The design of the Attila structure is for the birds–literally. Soon the semi-circular hole will become an inviting nest to birds, pigeons and assorted avian creatures. As such, it will become a dependable poop provider for the local farmers.

    What were the sculptor, the Turkish ambassador, city of Ottawa, the National Capital Commission, and the government of Canada thinking when they designed and endorsed the half-a-satellite dish chicken coop?

    The birds can hide in their modern nest, but the Turkish government can't hide its guilt by trying to deflect attention (through such structures) from the centenary of the Genocide of Armenians.

    1. Correct Bedross

      Correct Bedross.

      The Turkish government cannot cover up forever the enormous crime its predecessor governments inflicted upon our people.

      The erection of this monument shows how "uneasy", to say the least, they are with 2015 approaching–the centenary of the said crime.

      Theirs is a criminal state. Just lately the French government has begun to implement or is about to do so a decision that will make children in France study the Armenian Genocide, alongside the Jewish Holocaust. It is only a matter of time when the whole world, or near all the world, will officially recognize the Genocide of Armenians.

      As to the word 'terrorists', the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide and ASALA were applying "correctional acts of violence" which were directed ONLY at Turkish diplomats and a few Turkish airlines. They then stopped when war broke up in Artsakh. They went there as freedom fighters to liberate Armenian lands.

  16. Armenian Terrorist

    I grew up here in Ottawa and, being the first and only Armenian most of my friends had met, was called a terrorist many times because of this incident. For most Ottawa residents this was their introduction to our cause….

    I really believe the killing of that Turkish diplomat set our cause back and continues to do so now as it brought our 'fight', to have the Genocide recognized, to a peaceful and safe city.

    No Canadian wants violence brought here for foreign political struggles.

    I hope this monument will start a counter-offensive campaign by Armenians to have a monument commemorating the Genocide here in Ottawa…..Would it have to be 1.5 million times as big as the Turkish one?

    Aram.

    1. Armenian Terrorists

      Aram,

      You were and are not alone. Much like you, many of us–as Armenians–have had to confront these terrorist acts with odar friends and colleagues. In many of these situations, much like you in Ottawa at that time, many of us were the lone Armenian.

      Genocide, much like rape, is a burden the person has to bear. As long as you claim to be Armenian you have no choice and will have to bear the consequences of the terminal rape of the nation.

      An Armenian Genocide monument in Ottawa need not be 1.5 million times bigger than this [Turkish] one, but surely our national cause is 1.5 millions times the unfortunate loss of the Turkish military attache.

      I see no reason for the Armenians in Ottawa not to congregate at this monument during the upcoming April 24 commemorations to protest against the unlawful and unjustified killing of 1.5 millions law-abiding subjects by the very state to which they never wavered in their allegiance. Hopefully, you, being among very first Armenians in Ottawa, will take part in the commemoration as well.

       

  17. Military Attache Monument?

    What has this colonel done for Canada? Are there other monuments of foreign military personnel erected with such importance and exposure on Canadian soil? I do not see his relevance in Canadian context, except that he was murdered on this soil. How many other communities are supporting this monument and will their names be mentioned? 

  18. Il manque un traducteur de langues

     Bonjour , serait ce possible d'intaller un traducteur de langues sur votre site; Preque tout les articles sont ecrit en Anglais ou en Armenien , moi je suis Francais d'origine Armenienne et je ne sais pas lire ni l'Anglais ni l'Armenien donc , impossible de dechiffrer vos articles; merci d'avance de faire cet effort qui rendrait service a beaucoup de personnes dans mon cas,

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