On the 36th anniversary of the assassinations of the Turkish Consul-General Sarik Ariyak and his bodyguard Engin Sever, ex-CEO of the Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance Ertunc Ozen delivered a speech on moral relativism and the hierarchy of condemnation of terrorist acts. You can read more about this act of terror which was imported into Australia on this link. Here is a short excerpt from Mr Ozen’s speech.
“I was 10 when these two men were assassinated. I remember the fear, not knowing who might be targeted next by this organised group. I remember being taken out of school.
Our Criminal Code defines a terrorist act to be an act of violence done with the intention of advancing political, religious, or ideological cause, by means of coercing or influencing a government or section of the public
Listen carefully and you will notice that no particular religion is specified, nor is terrorism limited to any one particular group or nationality. There is also no hierarchy of terrorism. Yet, as a Turkish Australian, I cannot help but feel that some terrorist acts are, if not excused, certainly seen as somehow more understandable than others.
The Turkish community around the world, unfortunately, is no stranger to terrorist acts committed against them and their representatives by people who think they can kill and destroy in order to advance their own political ends.
We stand here today, at the site and on the anniversary of just one such occasion. Two men, leaving to go to work, mown down in a hail of gunfire by masked terrorists who described themselves as part of a “Secret Army”, or as “Justice Commandos” – some justice.
And what was it supposedly for? A dispute over the legal characterisation of events on the other side of the world which occurred over a hundred years ago. Of course, when questioned a little more closely, their true motive becomes clear – a sense they have some right to extract revenge, to “even up the score”. They feel a right to kill people simply because they are Turkish.
The hatred and callous disregard for human life required to plan, and carry out these executions is scarcely imaginable.
Yet, again unfortunately for the Turkish community worldwide, such horrendous acts occurred over and over again. And almost always, it had the support, or at least sympathy, of proportions of the Armenian community, and Western nations in which such acts occurred.
This particular act of terrorism, the AFP concluded, could not have been carried out, and the perpetrators could not have escaped, without substantial assistance from some members of NSW Armenian community. The criminals remain at large.
The two men who died on this spot in 1980 are no less worthy victims than the thousands of others who have died at the hands of terrorists around the world. We cannot permit a hierarchy of condemnation for terrorist acts, nor can we ever permit the sort of twisted reasoning that would seek to “justify” a terrorist Act. Neither the Consul-General, nor his assistant deserved to die for what someone else considered an important cause. They had a right to be safe, and to be able to go to work without armed gunmen killing them in front of their homes.
To forget these acts, to permit the “justification” of some terrorist acts, whilst condemning others, such moral relativism can only lead to the breakdown of our civil order.
Whilst some do say that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, deeper thinkers will immediately see the danger in such logic for all of us. Australia is a wonderful multicultural society. However, every ethnic and religious group has its own collective cultural memory, often including grievances against others. We cannot permit any language that would seek to excuse or to mitigate the gravity of a terror attack because of some claimed justification arising from these grievances.
Terrorist attacks are, after all, an attack on us all. On our way of life, our freedom, and our sense of security. We condemn them, as we mourn those who, through no fault of their own, became the victims of such terrorist acts.
To the families of Mr Ariyak, and Mr Sever, I extend my deepest condolences. I pledge never to permit this vile act to be excused. I thank you all for coming to show that this act, and the sacrifice of these two men is not forgotten. I trust that both of them now rest in peace. Mekanlari Cennet Olsun.”
You can find a chronological list of Armenian terror attacks on this link. And here is the video of Mr Ozen’s full speech.