30 July 2006
Re: First evacuees bound for Canada, July 21.
The Citizen reported that Turkish officials were said to have gone out of their way to make the evacuees comfortable, preparing food, drinks and showers.
It is part of Turkish culture to help others in need. More than 500 years ago, the Turkish rulers sent ships to bring Jews from Spain to Istanbul: no other country wanted to accommodate them. In 1915, orders were given to feed and protect the Armenian citizens who were being relocated from the war zone in eastern Anatolia, even though they had joined invading Russian troops and fought against the Ottoman Empire.
Turkey accepted hundreds of scientists and other Jewish refugees from Germany during the Second World War. In fact, the Turkish ambassador to France boarded a train heading to Auschwitz and refused to leave until Jewish citizens carrying Turkish passports were freed, as documented in the film Desperate Hours.
During the past decade, Turkey accepted and housed tens of thousands of refugees from the Ayatollah Khomeini regime in Iran, and accepted 500,000 Kurdish refugees escaping from the chemical attacks of Saddam Hussein.
As a Canadian of Turkish origin, I am proud to see that the culture of hospitality has not been diminished. I am glad to see that the Citizen published several sentences about how Canadian refugees were welcomed in Turkey.
Kevser Taymaz, Ottawa
Date: 27 Jul 2006
Ottawa Citizen, Canada July 27, 2006 Thursday Final Edition