Ottawa

Diplomat memorial stirs controversy

A new monument dedicated to fallen diplomats is stirring up controversy for its Turkish connections.
A monument dedicated to fallen diplomats is stirring up controversy for its Turkish connection. 0:58

A new monument dedicated to fallen diplomats is stirring up controversy for its Turkish connections.

The bowl-shaped sculpture of wood and metal was unveiled Thursday at the corner of Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and Island Park Drive.

It features more than 1,000 hand-crafted silver plates from Turkey and it's located close to where Turkish diplomat Atilla Altikat was assassinated 30 years ago. Altikat was shot to death while he was stopped at a red light on the parkway.

No arrests have ever been made in the case, but an Armenian terrorist group claimed responsibility.

The assassination was one of three attacks in the 1980s that targeted Turkish diplomats in Ottawa.

But the head of the Armenian National Committee in Ottawa, Michael Iskedjian, is upset about the monument.

"It's a hypocritical way of deflecting what Turkey does as a state that abuses human rights, by focusing on one person, one act, that happened 30 years ago," he said.

The conflict between Armenians and Turks goes back nearly 100 years to the First World War.

An estimated 1.5 million Armenians died in what the Canadian government and others recognize as a genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

To this day Turkey denies the genocide, saying there was no systematic campaign to kill Armenians.

Ozay Mehmet speaks for the Council of Turkish Canadians.

"I hope that they get over it," Mehmet said. "We as Turkish Canadians are open and waiting and ready for reconciliation here in Canada."

Iskedjian said reconciliation will come once Turkey acknowledges the genocide.

"Only then will there be reconciliation," he said.