“Justice delayed is justice undone.” That was the bitter message delivered by the Turkish Canadian community at a memorial service here in Ottawa to the Canadian government.
Col. Attila Altikat was murdered by Armenian terrorist 32 years ago in downtown Ottawa. Canadian police has yet to make an arrest. The remarkable thing is that the killers are free, living in Erivan as heroes.
Why this failure of Canadian justice? In one word, appeasement. That is to say, domestic ethnic politics.
In the early years, well before 911, the Canadian government, ever sensitive to Armenian diaspora, quietly opted for “lets forgive” policy. The Ottawa Citizen, in a 1992 editorial, publicly “forgave” Armenian terrorists killing Turkish diplomats for their suffering in the Ottoman Empire a century ago!
Turkish Canadian community stubbornly has been fighting a PR war ever since: they have organized memorial service every year, on 27 August, remembering Col. Altikat and pressing the Canadian government in power to deliver justice.
Finally, two years ago, some recognition was achieved. The Canadian authorities “accepted” a gift from the Turkish government to build a Monument in the memory of Attila Altikat. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu travelled to Ottawa and, together with his Canadian counterpart, unveiled the Monument.
But Canadian diplomacy scored a compromise. The Monument was named Fallen Diplomats Monument and no mention was made of Armenian terrorists who had gunned down Altikat.
Worse, under PM Harper, the Canadian Parliament passed, in 2006, Motion 380, judging Turkish history as Armenian nationalists wanted. This Motion acknowledges what happened in Anatolia in 1915 as Genocide. What would happen if Turkish Parliament were to approve a parallel motion on Canadian history, specifically branding the treatment of native people as Genocide?
Yet, Turkish Canadians hope for peace and reconciliation with friendly and peace-loving Armenians. So, the Altikat Monument is seen as a symbol of friendship and inter-ethnic harmony within the Canadian multiculturalism.
It remains to be seen whether these hopes will find a positive response. As the centenary of 1915 approaches next year, Turkish Canadians await with eagerness normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations and mutual recognition of ALL people who suffered at the violent destruction of the Ottoman Empire in the Great War.
Ozay Mehmet, Ph.D (Toronto),
Senior Fellow, Modern Turkish Studies Initiative,
Distinguished Research Professor, International Affairs,
Carleton University, Ottawa, Ont., CANADA