Public Declaration by the Turkish American Community in Southern California February 2, 2019

Turkish-Americans, target of a defamation campaign, again

As proud members of the Turkish-American Community in Southern California, we are concerned by the recent events in Los Angeles, involving the Turkish flag, as well as the recent biased statements targeting the Turkish Americans. The discriminative and slanderous language used in those public statements in newsprint, visual and social media, directed at the Turkish Americans is unacceptable and alarming.

Apparently, an unidentified man hung Turkish flags at two Armenian schools, after midnight on January 29th. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has been investigating the matter since then, to find the perpetrator who erected those flags at Manoogian-Demirdjian School and Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School, both in Canoga Park.

The Armenian diaspora was quick to blame Turks, even though the police has not yet identified the masked perpetrator appearing in the video footage. Wild accusations and premature statements by Armenian community leaders and some politicians, jumping to conclusion about the outcome of the ongoing investigation, are quite unsettling for the Turkish Americans, who are hard-working, law- abiding, tax-paying, peaceful, and productive citizens of this great country, upholding American values while enriching the American fabric. We firmly believe that what happened earlier this week was not an act of a Turkish-American. Turkish-Americans have no interest in provoking the Armenian community, deny any involvement with this curious event, and categorically reject all Armenian allegations, new or old.
  
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, in a tweet, urged the police to find the perpetrator as soon as possible. Some congressmen and state senators—notably with Armenian votes in their districts—have attempted to link this act to the “alleged” Armenian genocide, apparently still ignorant of the milestone verdicts of 2013 and 2015 by the highest court in Europe, ECHR, reducing the sweeping Armenian claims down to unproven “opinion”. ECHR further ruled that rejecting the unproven Armenian claims was an exercise of the right to the “freedom of speech.”

May we kindly remind these politicians with knee-jerk reactions that Turkish-Americans are full-fledged American citizens, with constitutional rights and not some kind of outcasts, illegal aliens, or guests. We, the people of Turkish-American heritage, owe nothing to such politicians. They should learn to treat Turkish-Americans respectfully by refraining from unfortunate acts/statements of ethno-religious discrimination. We sincerely wish that we will not be compelled by the irresponsible rhetoric of these politicians, to seek legal advice to defend and protect our unalienable rights. This is not a veiled threat, simply a honest statement of a solid fact.

The Turkish flag is a sacred symbol of all citizens of Turkey, regardless of their religions and/or ethnicities, which were all amalgamated into one after a fierce independence war fought against foreign invaders, following World War I. It is the much revered symbol of unity of the Turkish nation. It is neither a tool, nor a symbol of violence. In this regard, we vehemently reject the defamatory remarks about the Turkish flag by some politicians. Attempts to denigrate the embodiment of the honor, pride, and unity of a nation is abhorrent.

As founder of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk famously said, we believe in the motto “Peace at home, peace in the world.” Regardless of distortion of our history of more than a hundred years ago, we wish and aim to create a healthy and productive collaboration with all of our fellow Americans of Armenian descent. We believe that the Armenians and Turks share more than a few traits of a wonderful common culture, which can lead both communities to peace and prosperity, allow them to grow and shine together, and overcome our painful differences in the interpretation of history.

We, the people of Turkish-American heritage, wish to remind our fellow Americans that there was not a single hate-crime or act-of-violence by the Turkish-American community against Armenians or any other group. We always seek peaceful solutions to problems, even after four Turkish diplomats were killed, right here on American soil, by radical Armenians and terrorist organizations such as JCAG, ASALA, and others.

We are saying this when our hearts are heavy with pain and losses, as we just commemorated on January 27th, 2019, the assassinations of Turkish Consul General Mehmet Baydar and Consul Bahadir Demir in Santa Barbara (1973) and Turkish Consul General Kemal Arikan in

We wish and seek peaceful dialogue and constructive discourse between our two communities, not hostile polarization, defamation, intimidation, or terrorism.

Love and Warm Regards To All Peace-Lovers