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Turkey condemns 'defacing' of Ataturk statue in Washington

Ataturk, universally known as the 'Father of the Turks', is still revered by Turks. [Facebook]

Date of publication: 30 June, 2020

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A statue of the founder of the Turkish Republic was vandalised with a sign saying 'yes, I am guilty of crimes against humanity'.
Turkey's foreign ministry on Monday condemned the "defacing" of a statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, in Washington this week. 

Inspired by Black Lives Matter protests, where many statues of slave traders were vandalised or removed from public spaces, a US protester attached a sign to Ataturk's statue saying "yes, I am guilty of crimes against humanity". 

Ataturk, known in the country as the "Father of the Turks", is still revered for his role for being the first president and founder of the Turkish Republic.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said that such "ugly acts" will not overshadow the country's "glorious history or taint [the leader's] image".

Armenians and Greeks claim Ataturk was responsible for acts of genocide against Christian minorities, during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. 

"We've learned that the sign was placed there by someone whose extended family perished at Smyrna in 1922 and that it was a peaceful protest against a leader responsible for genocide," the Greek Genocide Resource Center, which shared the photo on Facebook said in a post.

While Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians claim the Ottoman Empire - with its heartlands now in modern day Turkey - carried out a systematic genocide.

Turkey denies these claims and say that the death toll has been exaggerated and most victims died either as a result of armed resistance or from starvation and disease.

The bronze statue of Ataturk was reportedly erected in 2013 in front of the Turkish embassy with contributions from the Turkish-American community.

Aksoy said the embassy had launched an investigation to take action against perpetrators.

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