Turkiye, Europe

Turkey remembers victims of ASALA terror attacks

Turkish diplomat Galip Ozmen and his daughter among dozens martyred by Armenian terror group ASALA between 1973 and 1984

Turkey remembers victims of ASALA terror attacks file photo

By Burcu Arik


It was 38 years ago today when Turkish diplomat Galip Ozmen and his 14-year-old daughter Neslihan were martyred by a notorious Armenian terror group in Greece.

His wife, Sevil Ozmen, and his 16-year-old son, Kaan Ozmen, were also seriously injured but managed to survive. The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) claimed responsibility for the 1980 terrorist attack.

Decades later, the hurt still fresh, the wound still open, Turkey is still mourning for Ozmen and his daughter, who were among over 30 Turkish diplomats and their family members martyred by ASALA and similar terror attacks between 1973 and 1984.

Founded in 1975 in Beirut, Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War, ASALA is responsible for hundreds of bloody terror acts.

According to Armenian Terror -- a 2006 study by Omer Engin Lutem, a former Turkish diplomat -- the killings spanned the continents, taking place in the U.S., Austria, France, Italy, Spain, Lebanon, Greece, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, Portugal, Iran, and the U.K.

The study said that the assimilation of Armenians who migrated to other countries was seen as a threat to Armenian churches and political parties, which then decided to revive extremist national emotions to hinder assimilation and protect their concept of identity.

First killing in 1973

Though the group formed in 1975, the first killing of a diplomat and his deputy came on Jan. 27, 1973 when Gurgen Yanikyan, an Armenian, martyred Turkey's consul general in Los Angeles Mehmet Baydar and his aide Bahadir Demir.

A total of three diplomats were martyred between 1973 and 1978, after which Turkish public servants abroad became targets for Armenian terrorist organizations like ASALA and the so-called Justice Commandoes for Armenian Genocide.

From 1975 to 1984, Turkish ambassadors and diplomats were targeted around the world by ASALA and its affiliates.

These Armenian terrorist attacks intensified from 1980 to 1983, when 580 of the 699 attacks -- over 80 percent -- occurred. The terrorist attacks ended in 1986, according to the Armenian Terror study.

In order to compel the Turkish government "to acknowledge publicly its responsibility for the so-called Armenian genocide in 1915, pay reparations, and cede territory for an ‘Armenian homeland’,” ASALA martyred Turkish diplomats in numerous bloody attacks in that decade.

In 1915, the Ottoman Empire relocated Armenians in eastern Anatolia following revolts when some sided with invading Russians, and there were Armenian casualties during the relocation process.

Armenia has demanded an apology and compensation, while Turkey has officially refuted Armenian allegations over the incidents saying that, although Armenians died during the relocations, many Turks also lost their lives in attacks carried out by Armenian gangs in Anatolia.

The Turkish government has repeatedly called on historians to study Ottoman archives pertaining to the era in order to uncover what actually happened between the Ottoman government and its Armenian citizens.

The debate on so-called “genocide” and the differing opinions between the present-day Turkish government and the Armenian diaspora, along with the current administration in Yerevan, still generates political tension between Turks and Armenians.

Rebuffing the “genocide” allegations, Turkey has officially acknowledged past experiences as a great tragedy in which both parties suffered heavy casualties, including hundreds of Muslim Turks.

Terror acts in Paris

The attack at Esenboga airport on August 7, 1982, was one of the most notorious attacks of ASALA, as the group targeted non-diplomat civilians for the first time.

Nine people died and over 80 were injured when two terrorists opened fire in a crowded passenger waiting area of the airport in the Turkish capital Ankara.

The 1981 and 1983 Paris attacks are among the group's other notable acts. ASALA terrorists held 56 people hostage for 15 hours during Turkish Consulate attack in 1981, while a suitcase bomb killed eight people -- most of them non-Turks -- in 1983 at a Turkish Airlines check-in desk at Paris’ Orly Airport.

According to some Turkish officials, it was the Orly attack when the group lost much of its support and financial backing from the Armenian diaspora and had to dissolve.

Here is a list of Turkish diplomats and public servants martyred by Armenian terrorist attacks:

DatePlace PositionName
Jan. 27, 1973Santa BarbaraConsul GeneralMehmet Baydar
Jan. 27, 1973Santa BarbaraConsulBahadir Demir
Oct. 22, 1975ViennaAmbassadorDanis Tunaligil
Oct. 24, 1975ParisAmbassadorIsmail Erez
Oct. 24, 1975ParisDriverTalip Yener
Jan. 16, 1976BeirutHead ClerkOktar Cirit
June 9, 1977VaticanAmbassadorTaha Carim
June 2, 1978MadridAmbassador's WifeNecla Kuneralp
June 2, 1978MadridRetired Ambassador Besir Balcioglu
Oct. 12, 1979The Hague Ambassador's Son Ahmet Benler
Dec. 22, 1979ParisTourism CounselorYilmaz Colpan
July 31, 1980Athens Administrative Attache Galip Ozmen
July 31, 1980Athens Attache's DaughterNeslihan Ozmen
Dec.17, 1980SydneyConsul GeneralSarik Ariyak
Dec.17, 1980SydneySecurity AttacheEngin Sever
March 4, 1981ParisWorking AttacheResat Morali
March 4, 1981ParisReligious OfficerTecelli Ari
June 09, 1981Geneva Contracted Secretary M. Savas Yerguz
Sep. 24, 1981ParisSecurity Attache Cemal Ozen
Jan. 28, 1982Los AngelesConsul GeneralKemal Arikan
May 05, 1982BostonHonorary Consul GeneralOrhan Gunduz
June 07, 1982LisbonAdministrative AttacheErkut Akbay
June 07, 1982LisbonAdministrative Attache's WifeNadide Akbay
Aug. 27, 1982OttawaMilitary Attache Colonel Attila Altikat
Sep. 9, 1982BurgasAdministrative AttacheBora Suelkan
March 9, 1983Belgrade AmbassadorGalip Balkar
July 14, 1983Brussels Administrative Attache Dursun Aksoy
July 27, 1983LisbonUndersecretary's Wife Cahide Mihcioglu
April 28, 1984TehranContracted Secretary's WifeIsik Yonder
June 20, 1984ViennaWorking AttacheErdogan Ozen
Nov. 19, 1984ViennaInternational Servant Enver Ergun

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