CARSON, CA – The Los Angeles Turkish Association has lobbied the City of Carson, to erect a statue of controversial Turkish dictator, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in the City’s International Sculpture Garden. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed installation of the Ataturk monument on Wednesday, March 4th.
This project, which has so far garnered the approval of the City’s Landscape and Monument Sub-Committee, was first proposed in 2012 by Los Angeles Turkish Association as a “Turkish Cultural project.”
Ataturk is considered the founding father of the Republic of Turkey after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. He is known to have been responsible for continuing the deportations and ethnic cleansing of Armenians from Cilicia and Greeks from Anatolia until 1923. His tactics of silencing political dissent within Turkey, were also violent and often targeted at religious minorities such as Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Alawis and Greeks.
The monument’s Website, which is soliciting 150 thousand dollars for its construction and maintenance, urges constituents to help commemorate Ataturk “among the world leaders who advanced the cause for liberation, freedom, and democracy.” Yet historians note, it is due to Ataturk’s authoritarian rule, that Turkey was a one-party state or under military rule for the majority of the 20th century, and has yet to establish itself as a county where basic democratic values and freedoms are respected.
The installation of this monument also comes at a very sensitive time for the Armenian-American community, which is focused on commemorating the Centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was a leading figure in Turkish society to perpetuate genocide denial – the current Turkish State’s position towards the horrors committed by their predecessors.
Community members within the City of Carson have expressed their desire to make their voices heard and object to the blatant disregard to historical truth that is being put forth in support of the statue.
Council meeting will take place at 701 East Carson Street, starting at 5 pm., in City Hall’s Helen Kawogoe Chambers. Members of the City Council are; Mayor Jim Dear, who can be contacted via email at [email protected] or by phone at (310) 952-1700 ext.1000, Mayor Pro Tem Elito M. Santarina, Councilmember Lula Davis-Holmes, Councilmember Albert Robles, City Treasurer Karen Avilla, and City Clerk Donesia Gause will also be present at the meeting.