Turkish community centre in Montreal is vandalizedSource : http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/turkish-community-centre-in-montreal-is-vandalized
Katherine Wilton, Montreal Gazette More from Katherine Wilton, Montreal Gazette
Published on: May 18, 2015
Last Updated: May 18, 2015 6:33 PM EDT
For the second time in less than a month, vandals have plastered stickers on Montreal’s Turkish Community Centre demanding Turkey acknowledge and take responsibility for the Armenian genocide.
Turkish Montrealers who arrived at the centre on Villeray St. with their children on Sunday were worried about the nine stickers on the front of the building, said Mehmet Kocabas, a member of the community who uses the centre.
Security cameras showed two men arrived at the community centre about 2:40 a.m. Sunday morning and plastered the building with the stickers saying: “Never Forget, No Excuses: Justice and Reparations for the Armenian people.”
Kocabas said the Turkish community is particularly alarmed the stickers display a closed fist that is red in colour, which they fear may signal violence.
It was definitely not an olive branch. It’s escalating. People are worried that the next time it will be broken windows or a Molotov cocktail. — Montrealer Mehmet Kocabas
Montreal police are investigating the vandalism Kocabas is calling a hate crime.
“It was definitely not an olive branch,” he said. “It’s escalating. People are worried that the next time it will be broken windows or a Molotov cocktail.”
On April 24, the day Armenians commemorate the genocide, another vandal plastered three similar stickers on the door of the community centre, Kocabas said. On that occasion, the community centre’s officials decided not to file a police report.
Kocabas said he wants the leaders of the Montreal’s Armenian community to denounce the vandalism and said the 10,000 and 15,000 Turkish Canadians who live in Quebec shouldn’t be held responsible for what happened during the First World War.
Montreal's young Armenians carry history forward
“We are here to integrate and live in peace. We are not here to defend the interests of the Turkish government,” said Kocabas, a Montreal dentist. “The Armenians won’t advance their cause by attacking Turkish Canadians.”
The latest incident of vandalism occurred two weeks after thousands of Montrealers marched downtown to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks. The slaughters and deportations began in 1915 as Ottoman officials worried the Armenians would side with Russia during the First World War. However, Turkey said those killed were the victims of civil war and unrest, and the Turkish government disputes the numbers killed.
Kocabas denounced the decision of the Canadian government to side with the Armenians in the debate over the genocide. “They’re taking sides in a historical debate that has not been proven legally,” he said.
For his part, Kocabas said he believes “tragic events happened during the First World War” and that the Ottoman Turks relocated some citizens — as Canada did with Japanese Canadians during the Second World War — out of fear they might collaborate with Russia, he said. He acknowledged the failed state wasn’t able to protect all its citizens, but denied there was a genocide. “Was there a blatant attempt to commit a genocide and wipe out a nation? Absolutely not,” he said.