Member of South Australian Parliament, Tom Koutsantonis, is the target of a silencing campaign orchestrated by the Turkish Embassy in the Australian capital of Canberra.
It is recalled that earlier this month, the Member for West Torrens put forward a motion to have May 19 recognised as a Remembrance Day for the Greek Genocide.
In the Embassy’s campaign, spearheaded by Ambassador Korhan Karakoç, to have MP’s work against MP Koutsantonis, the Turkish Embassy described the “so-called Greek Genocide” as a “grave distortion of historical facts.”
The Greek Genocid, perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and the Young Turks, saw the extermination of not only up to a million Greeks, but also 1.5 million Armenians and at least half a million Assyrians between 1913 and 1923.
Although Turkey continues to insistently deny genocide, it has complete academic consensus, with the International Association of Genocide Scholars saying in a 2007 resolution that:
“the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted a genocide against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontian and Anatolian Greeks.”
The Embassy also claimed that a Remembrance Day would impact “the social harmony in South Australia currently enjoyed by the Turkish and greater Muslim community.”
This is a curious claim and a weak attempt to draw the Greek Genocide issue as one revolving the entirety of Islam, but the crimes of the Ottoman Empire and the Young Turks is not the crime of Islam as a religion.
In different ways, Muslim-majority countries like Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Egypt have recognised the genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and the Young Turks in their lunatic drive to create a “Turkey for the Turks.”
The Turkish Embassy claims they are concerned on the “social harmony” that a Remembrance Day would have on the Turkish community.
They of course did not show such concern for “social harmony” when they were offending nearly a million Christian Orthodox Christians in Australia by parroting the Turkish regimes conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque last year.
"O ne mutlu, mübarek bir kuluymuş ALLAH'ın…
Belde-i Tayyibe'yi fetheden padişahın,
Hakk yerine getirdi en büyük niyazını;
Kıldı Ayasofya'da ikindi namazını."#AyasofyaCamii #AyasofyaCami #HagiaSophiaMosque pic.twitter.com/fNB7HDXudn
— Turkish Embassy in Australia (@kanberra_be) July 11, 2020
Hagia Sophia is to Orthodox Christians the equivalent of the Vatican to Catholics or Mecca to Muslims.
It’s conversion received international condemnation, and only had limited support from the likes of Iran and Hamas.
The Turkish Embassy in Canberra also repeatedly parrots the regimes position on its occupation of northern Cyprus and the illegitimate “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.”
We congratulate the 36th anniversary of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is the most valuable achievement of the Turkish Cypriots' legitimate struggle.
— Turkish Embassy in Australia (@kanberra_be) November 15, 2019
The establishment of the unrecognised “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” was built on the back of 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees escaping the Turkish military in 1974, which also led to thousands of Greek Cypriot deaths and hundreds of rape victims.
Yet, the Turkish Embassy in Canberra has the audacity to claim that they are concerned for “social harmony” as they continue to tweet in support of ethnic cleansing in Cyprus and the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
The Embassy also claimed that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, one of the key perpetrators of the Genocide of Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians, had a “special bond with the ANZACS.”
A 2015 article in The Guardian by Paul Daley, was appropriately titled “Ataturk’s ‘Johnnies and Mehmets’ words about the Anzacs are shrouded in doubt.”
The article states that: “The heartfelt speech attributed to Ataturk about Turks and Australians in Gallipoli is historically dubious, extensive research shows.”
Also, the 2017 Sydney Morning Herald article by David Stephens, titled: “’Johnnies and Mehmets”: states that Kemal Ataturk’s “quote is an Anzac confidence trick.”
In addition, a 2018 article in New Zealand’s Newsroom quotes Professor Peter Stanley from the University of New South Wales saying that the positive words said to the ANZAC’s by Atatürk “is fraudulent.”
An article by James Robins in The Guardian was entitled: “Anzacs witnessed the Armenian genocide – that shouldn’t be forgotten in our mythologising.”
A 449-page document by the University of Wollongong was also titled “Australian press coverage of the Armenian genocide 1915-1923”; and there are also first-hand ANZAC accounts by Australian soldiers who witnessed the genocide during World War I.
Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos nominated Ataturk for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1934, not to absolve him from his crimes against the Ottoman Empires Christian citizens, but for achieving peace between Greece and Turkey after decades of war.
This is a fundamental difference manipulated by the Turkish Embassy, just as it alludes to the non-existent and long debunked Ataturk-ANZAC connection.
MP Koutsantonis said on Facebook about the Embassy that:
“They have desperately written to Members of Parliament in SA asking them not to support my calls for the millions of murdered victims of this genocide to be commemorated annually on May 19.”
“Call your local MP and ask them to support this motion & don’t let anyone silence us,” he added.
It is recalled that earlier this month, the Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance Executive Secretary Baris Atayman reacted angrily to the motion to have May 19 recognised as a Remembrance Day for the Greek Genocide.
“As the peak public affairs body, representing the Australian-Turkish community, we are writing to you to express our disbelief in Tom Koutsantonis MP’s proposed motion to be floored this week, calling for the state government to recognise May 19 as the official day of remembrance of the so-called Greek genocide,” reads the letter by the Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance.
In the same letter, Atayman says that the motion is “a distraction motivated solely by Mr Koutsantonis’ personal ethnic bias” and calls the Members of Parliament to “shun Mr Koutsantonis’ biased political manoeuvre.”
“Mr Koutsantonis’ political act is a disgrace to the great things many Greek and Turkish people who share Australian values achieve together. It will only create disharmony between our children,” it reads.
In his response to Attayman, Neos Kosmos reported Tom Koutsantonis MP saying that “he will not be intimidated into silence.”
“Obviously my motion in the South Australian Parliament to recognise the Genocide of the Hellenes of Asia Minor has angered those who have attempted for over a century to conceal the atrocities committed by the Turkish Military on the civilian population of Asia Minor,” said Koutsantonis.
In response to the Turkish Embassy’s campaign against the MP, the Armenian National Committee of Australia said “another typically deplorable example of Turkey’s autocratic government attempting to exercise its foreign influence on Australia’s political process.”
Turkey is one of the lowest ranked countries in the 2020 Reporters Without Borders report for media freedoms in the world, is the second most susceptible country surveyed on the European continent and its surrounds to fake news, has the most journalists jailed in the whole world, and 90% of media is government controlled.
Nordic Monitor also released documents that found Turkey’s “National Intelligence Organization (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı, or MIT) has spied on critics and opponents of the Islamist government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Australian territory.”
“In what is likely to be the first confirmed case of MIT espionage in the country, prominent figure affiliated with a pro-democracy opposition group was targeted in Sydney by agents of Turkey’s authoritarian rulers,” the report said.