Türkiye Cumhuriyeti

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Unveiling Ceremony of the Memorial Plaque, 15.12.2011

Unveiling Ceremony of the Memorial Plaque
In Memory of the Late Consul General Şarık Arıyak
and Security Officer Engin Sever

15 December 2011
5 Portland Street

His Excellency Ambassador Oğuz Özge,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning and thank you all for coming.
Today, we are witnessing one of the most important days for the Turkish Australian community since their first arrival in Australia in 1968.

This morning, we are gathered here for the unveiling ceremony of the commemorative plaque in memory of the late Consul General Mr. Şarık Arıyak and his security officer Mr. Engin Sever who were killed here, in this spot, by an Armenian terrorist organization.

Exactly 31 years ago, on 17 December 1980, while the Consul General was leaving home for the office, he and his security officer, Attaché Sever, were shot dead in this spot, in front of the eyes of Mr. Consul-General’s wife and his 8-year old daughter, by the Armenian terrorists. This murder was the first terrorist act in the Australian soil. Although an Armenian terrorist group assumed the responsibility of the murder, right after the attack, the perpetrators have never been caught.

Whenever I come in and out of the residence I am reminded of this horrendous act and the sorrow experienced by the families of Mr. Arıyak and Mr. Sever. This plaque will serve as a recognition and condemnation of the first terrorist attack in Australia and will remind us nobody and no country is immune from terrorism.

During his tenure between 1977 and 1980, Mr. Arıyak, as the fourth Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Sydney, had served with great determination and dedication. He had made great contributions to the bilateral relations between Turkey and Australia and worked hard in the service of Turkish Australians and our Australian friends. The dedication and the ultimate sacrifice of Mr. Arıyak and Mr. Sever will always be remembered by Turkey and the Turkish Australians with gratitude and feeling of indebtedness.

Mr. Arıyak and Mr. Sever were killed by a terrorist organization just because they were Turkish and representing Turkey. Unfortunately, that was not the only terrorist attack targeting the Turkish diplomats. It was only one of the 200 attacks perpetrated by Armenian terrorist groups in 21 countries and 4 continents between 1973-1984, killing 58 Turkish citizens, including 34 diplomats.

Today we have also among us the widow of Mr. Kemal Arıkan, the late Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Los Angeles who faced the same fate as Mr. Arıyak and was killed on October 1982 by the Armenian terrorists.

These terrorist attacks, however, could not prevent the Turkish diplomats to speak in advocacy of the truth. On the contrary, the use of violence aiming at inducing a state of fear in the victim, consolidated our resolve to fight against the defamation campaigns of certain groups in all around the world, including Australia. Turkey will always stand resolute against the allegations of genocide by Armenians with regard to the events of 1915. In fact, Turkey has opened the Ottoman archives and proposed to form a joint committee including Turkish, Armenian and third party historians for an impartial scientific examination of this controversial period of the history. However, Armenia neither opened its archives nor accepted our proposal to form a committee of historians to study the 1915 events.

Distinguished guests,
All kinds of terrorism are a crime against humanity and terrorism is a major violation of one of the most fundamental human rights, the right to life. All terrorist acts are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed. Terrorism has no borders and values. There are no exceptions. No country is immune from terrorism. International determination and cooperation is necessary for a counter terrorism strategy. Turkey has consistently and clearly condemned all forms of terrorism and will continue to actively support all international efforts to fight terrorism.

Before concluding my remarks, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to our Australian friends who made this unveiling ceremony possible. I would like to especially extend my sincere thanks to Councilor Ms. Sally Betts, the Former Mayor of Waverly, who embraced the project and provided every possible support and to Ms. Meredith Wallace, the Former Director of Recreation, Customer and Community Services of the Waverly Municipality, with whom we had very constructive and responsive cooperation, and to Ms. Linda Bathur, Acting Director of Recreation, Customer and Community Services of the Waverly Municipality who, after taking over the project from Meredith, did not deprive us of her invaluable support and contributions, and helped us to overcome any difficulty we faced, including the bad weather, in the installment process. And finally, I would like thank to Waverly Mayor Mr. John Wakefield and the General Manager, Tony Reed.

I also wish to thank the members of the Federal Police and Rose Bay Police Station for their presence here.

Thank You