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Sheriff Condemns Turkish Consul 11/06/2003
Sheriff Condemns Turkish Consul
For Insulting Letter on Genocide

 
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
 
Turkish officials never miss an opportunity to counter and attack all those
who make even a passing reference to the Armenian Genocide. The Turks are
quick to condemn and silence journalists, writers, filmmakers, artists, or
politicians around the world who dare to mention the Genocide.
It is ironic that instead of feeling ashamed of the atrocious crimes
committed by their ancestors, Turkish officials have the audacity to condemn
those who dare to tell the truth.
The Turks seem to be unaware that in their fanatical zeal to counter all
mention of the Armenian Genocide, they are damaging their own interests. By
lashing out at those who do not toe the Turkish line, the Turks are not only
drawing more attention to the Armenian Genocide, but also are antagonizing
many of these professionals to the point of developing anti-Turkish
feelings!
It is not always possible to document their Genocide denial efforts since
the Turkish diplomats rarely make public their covert attempts to silence
their critics. Once in a while, however, the Turks pick on the wrong
American official who courageously "tells them off" and exposes their little
scheme. This is exactly what happened when Aykut Berk, the Ambassador -
Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Los Angeles, wrote the following
letter to Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca on May 1, 2000, for
attending an Armenian Genocide commemoration on April 24:
"I was deeply disturbed when I saw your name among the participants of the
Remembrance Day, held last week in Los Angeles, for the so-called 'Armenian
Genocide.' Your participation in this event shows us that you are totally
misled and misinformed on this matter. Such meetings during which baseless
allegations are leveled against Turkey are nothing but blatant insults to
those Turks, young and old, women and children who lost their lives in the
hands of the armed Armenian thugs during World War I, as well as to the
entire Turkish Nation.
"I hope that politicians and high officials would refrain from giving the
impression that they adhere to only one side of a story made up by the
distorted presentation of history and instead work to foster mutual
confidence and friendship between peoples. Support given to biased Armenian
allegations under whatever considerations has been interpreted in the past
as the justification and encouragement of Armenian terrorist acts
perpetrated against civilians and Turkish diplomats, three of whom - two
Consuls General and a Consul - were brutally murdered in the state of
California."
The Turkish diplomat definitely picked on the wrong guy in this case.
Sheriff Baca is a highly educated official. He has a Ph.D. from the
University of Southern California and knows perfectly well the facts of the
Armenian Genocide. He commands the largest Sheriff's Department in the
United States with over 15,000 sworn and professional staff. The Los Angeles
County Sheriff's Department is the law enforcement provider to 41
incorporated cities, 90 unincorporated communities, 9 community colleges and
hundreds of thousands of daily commuters of the Metropolitan Transit
Authority and the Rapid Rail Transit District. Sheriff Baca has served in
the United States Marine Corps Reserves.
The Turkish Consul General's letter, besides containing several obvious
lies, is an unwarranted interference by a foreigner into the professional
duties of an American elected official. Incredibly, the Turkish diplomat was
trying to dictate to this senior American law enforcement official where in
the United States he should and should not go! Sheriff Baca was so incensed
by the insulting tone of the Turkish letter that he sent the following
harshly-worded reply to Consul General Aykut Berk:
"Thank you for contacting me w ith your thoughts about my participation in
the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Events.
"The Genocide of the Armenians is an established historical fact, recognized
as such by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in their 1985
report prepared by the Human Rights Sub-Commission on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. Furthermore, our nation's
highest-ranking diplomat in Ottoman Turkey at the time of the Genocide,
Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, was so appalled by the atrocities perpetrated
against Armenian civilians, which he termed 'race extermination,' he
personally appealed to then Minster of the Interior Talaat Pasha to cease
the killing.
"In order to heal the wounds of the past, it is important to come to terms
with and admit past mistakes. I participated in the Armenian Genocide
commemorative events in order to pay homage to the victims of the Genocide
and to assure that future such crimes against humanity may never again
occur....
"The people of modern Turkey are not responsible for the atrocities of the
Ottoman Empire. They, however, need leaders who will make every effort to
uncover the facts and not write insulting letters such as the one you sent
me."
It appears that the Turkish Consul General, having been put in his place,
has learned a valuable lesson. Sheriff Baca has continued to attend the
annual Armenian Genocide commemorations, but no Turkish official has dared
to criticize him again!
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