The great Irish potato famine and the Turkish humanitarian aid to Ireland

Skibbereen_by_James_Mahony-1847In 2010, the Irish President Mary McAleese paid a visit to Turkey. During that visit a historical event that took place in 1847 between these two countries was remembered and covered widely in the Irish press.  The case in question was the Irish Potato Famine, or the Potato Blight that devastated Ireland between 1845 and 1849, and the generous humanitarian response by the Turks to this Irish predicament.

This plight was either caused by a disease in the potato crop, or a severe draught, and it spread rapidly throughout the country. There was a large scale famine as the potato was the main source of livelihood of the Irish people; about one-third of the population depended solely on the potato , either as a consumer or cultivator.  At that time the population of Ireland was about 8 million — 1.4 million people died of starvation, and 1.5 million people immigrated to other countries, mainly the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia.

At that time the Ottoman Empire was ruled by Sultan Abdul Mecid.  He was an enlightened ruler. His mother was French, Aimée DuBuque.  Her family lived in the Island of Martinique in the Caribbean. Her sister was also famous and an Emperatrice; she was Josephine, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.

In 1847, Abdul Mecid heard about the Irish disaster from the British Ambassador.  He  immediately dispatched a fleet of five ships full of food supplies to Ireland.  However, the British Crown became touchy, and obviously considered it as a trespassing  on its own sphere of influence, and refused to  give permission to those ships to enter the ports of Dublin or Belfast. Instead of laying idle there the commodore of the fleet took it upon himself and decided to try another port, and they sailed to a smaller port named Drogheda, 70 miles North of Dublin. They were able to discharge their cargo – secretly.  For lack of a decent hotel in town the city authorities put them up  at the City Hall.

Sultan Abdul Mecid  also declared that he would donate 10,000 in gold monetary aid to relieve the Irish people.   Queen Victoria objected to that.  With direct order from her the British Ambassador in Istanbul pleaded with the Sultan, “would he be so kind to reduce his amount, for the Queen’s donation was only 2, 000, and no amount of charity should exceed hers.” Thereupon the Sultan reduced his amount to 1,000.  Research made in the Ottoman archives in 1993 revealed a “Letter of Gratitude” from the noblemen, and the inhabitants of Ireland addressed to the Sultan and to the Turkish people.

To commemorate this event, on May 2, 1995, the Mayor of Drogheda Alderman Frank Godfrey paid a visit to the Turkish Ambassador  Mr. Taner Baytok, and asked him to join the ceremony of erecting  a plaque with “star and crescent emblem” on the wall of  the Westcourt Hotel, which was the old City Hall where the Turkish seamen had stayed.  Mr. Baytok wrote in his memoires that this event was made public for the first time in an article written by Thomas P. O’Neill, published in the Treshold Magazine in 1957.

 The Ottoman efforts to relieve the hardship of the Irish people and to lessen their pain despite the long distance are still remembered and appreciated in Ireland. The Turks put aside their differences in race, religion, language and culture, and extended their hands far and far away to the afflicted and distressed Irish people.

There is an anectode, an oral history if you will, about this event.  Some of the people in the entourage of the Sultan were not happy with this enterprise; they voiced their displeasure by saying that, “ Why this fuss about a small island so far away?  We do not have any relations with them, no trade, no political or military.” The Sultan is said to have responded, “They may be small, but we are great! This is my justification.”

Ayhan Ozer

Two Warships that changed the fate of Turkiye by Ayhan Ozer

Ataturk Canakkale SavsindaThis year, the month of June is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the World War I. It also marked the final stage in the demise of the Ottoman Empire. After four years of misery, deprivation, slaughter and ruin the war came to an end on November 11, 1918. The Ottoman Empire was defeated by the Entente Powers (England, Russia and France), and surrendered on October 30, 1918, and ceased de facto to exist.

First, a brief overview of the dismal conditions that prevailed in the country at that time:

For a long time prior to the WWI the Ottoman Empire had already been in the throes of a steep decline at the hands of ignorant, incapable and visionless rulers. They involved the country in endless wars; this adventurism coupled with poverty, misery, and the stifling influence of Islam buried the Empire in pitch dark. The ruling class was careless and completely detached from the nation. They provided no education, no health care, and no infrastructures. There was no factory, no skilled workers, and no businessmen; therefore there were no productions whatsoever. The sultans, one after another, cared only for their thrones and the hedonistic life in the Harem. Once a sprawling Empire, it had turned into a rudderless ship tossed about aimlessly in a rough sea. [Read more…]

One of the most tragic crimes of the human history: The HODJALİ GENOCIDE by Ali KÜLEBİ

hocali_genocideOne of the most tragic crimes of human history was committed by Armenians in the Hocalı (Hodjali) district of Azerbaijan at the night of 25th of February in 1992. Upon the directions of the incumbent president of the Republic of Armenia, who accuses Turkey of the so-called Armenian genocide, the Armenian forces undertook armed action against the town of Hodjali in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan with the intention of massacre. As a result of the invasion of Hodjali, civilian and unarmed people of Azerbaijan were murdered by Armenian armed forces. According to official data, 613 people were killed that night, of those 83 children and 106 women were murdered through ruthless methods of torture. Besides 487 people were heavily wounded, 1275 were taken hostage and the remaining people underwent psychological traumas. 130 children became half and 26 children became full orphan. The Armenian soldiers killed their victims mercilessly hollowing their eyes, flaying their skulls and cutting various parts of their body. Pregnant women and their unborn babies were butchered and many people were buried alive. Even the corpses of the many martyrs were burned.

The massacre committed by Armenian armed forces 22 years ago in Hodjali is analogous to the massacre of Serebrenica committed by Milosevic in 1995 in Bosnia Herzegovina. As is known the massacre of Serebrenica was recognised by the International Criminal Tribunal For The Former Yugoslavia as GENOCIDE.

Mass killings of Azerbaijan people by Armenian armed forces fully coincides with the genocide concept described as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” in the second article of the Convention on Genocide adopted by the United Nations in 1948. The massacre in Hodjali by Armenian armed forces fits the two of the five conditions of the second article of the UN Convention on Genocide, that describes which acts shall be regarded as genocide. The article mentions that any of those five acts is adequate for an action to be considered as genocide. The mass killings in Hodjali by the Armenian armed forces are compatible with the first and second paragraphs of the second article of the UN Convention on Genocide, which describe genocide as “Killing members of the group” and “Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group”.

With the Hodjali Genocide, a civil community were exterminated/massacred, just because of their ethnic identities, by Armenian armed forces; and hence, the crime of genocide as the most significant crimes of humanity were committed. But, the realities about the Hodjali Genocide have unfortunately not been sufficiently heard in the international arena. Robert Kocharian, the incumbent president of the Republic of Armenia and known clearly as the person responsible for the Hodjali Genocide, and the other responsible could not be punished within the framework of international law despite solid evidence.

Although 22 years have passed since the event, it is seen that the UN, which carries great responsibilities with regard to the incident, and other international organizations do not give the necessary importance to the issue. Same situation is also true about the continuing occupation of the Azerbaijani territory by Republic of Armenia, as is stated in the UN Security Council Resolutions of 822, 853, 874 and 884 and in the Parliamentarian Assembly of the Council of Europe Resolution 1416 dated 25 January 2005.

In this respect, it is a duty of all the concerned persons calling the world community as a whole, along with the interested and authorized institutions for moving to act with respect to the issue, putting an end to the Armenian occupation of the Azerbaijani territory, pronouncing the incident with its real name as the HODJALI GENOCIDE and taking initiatives regarding the punishment of the responsible.

Ali KÜLEBİ, February 2014

How PASTIRMA became PASTRAMI? By: Ayhan Ozer

Turkish Pastirma

Turkish Pastirma

On June 24 1987, in the “Living Section” of the New York Times appeared a Letter to the Editor asking “What is pastrami?” The letter mentioned the fondness of Yves Montand for pastrami. He was a famous French singer in 1950s and 1960s. People also know him as the third husband of Marilyn Monroe. To my opinion, notwithstanding this semi-official testimonial what Yves Montand liked so much was not the American “pastrami”, it was the Turkish PASTIRMA. It is popular in France too because of the several minorities who immigrated to France from Turkey after World War I.

As a reply to the above inquiry I sent a letter to the New York Times explaining briefly how pastrami had originated in Turkey, and how it found its way to the United States but in the process it lost its innocence and must have suffered an identity crisis. My letter was published on July 22, 1987. A Turkish Armenian fellow living in New York, a total stranger to me found my address from his circle of friends, and sent me a letter, saying that he enjoyed my letter so much, and thanking me for my “informative and nice letter”.

Then, in our local library I came across a book “A History of English in its own Words”. It was about the etymology and the history of the words. In that book I came across an entry for Pastrami. The writer seemed to tie the origin of the Pastrami to an obscure background, totally speculative and without any convincing proof.

The origin of Pastrami is PASTIRMA, a Turkish delicacy. In the rural Turkish dialect it is BASTIRMA, meaning to steep raw meat, fish, or even fruits and vegetables in a medium of brine, salt or any pungent substances for curing and pickling purposes.

To make PASTIRMA, a raw cut of beef is put under a heavy marble block to make it release its blood. When it is free from any residual blood the curing stage begins. For curing purposes the meat is coated with a mixture of condiments composed of ground fenugreek (an aromatic spice), red pepper, garlic and some non-essential spices, and is let to rest for a certain period of times. During the curing period, the aroma and the taste of this compound penetrate the meat, and give it a zesty flavor.

This concept with a slightly modified name (pastrami) was brought into this country by the Jewish immigrants from Romania, which was a Turkish province until late 19th century. However, the taste of the original PASTIRMA was modified to please the American palate. It is milder and without any aroma.

Who is a Turkish-American? by Ayhan Ozer

US-Turkish_prideFor a traditional mind America is a land of untold peculiarities; one of its features is the “hyphenated citizen” status. America is an immigrant country; the ancestors of the entire U.S. population who call themselves today “American” had come to this land from other countries during the past four centuries. Therefore, today in America almost all the nations have social and cultural extensions. The new-comers to this land arrive here with a determination of settling. This make them identify with this country willingly, which make their adaptations conscious, and therefore, easier. Not to forget their heritages they call themselves “Irish-American”, “Polish-American”, “Italian-American”, etc. They  draw a sense of pride from this blood identity with the old country. However, they are no longer Irish, Polish or Italian; they are a new breed, they are American at the core.

One of the recent groups that jumped onto the bandwagon is the Turks. Today, a new descendant of Turks is coming of age in America. They are the Turkish-Americans. Like all the other immigrants, the Turkish-Americans too are aware of the double cultural identity they possess. They have two sets of values, one acquired in this country, and the other infused at home. Yet those values do not clash, they reinforce one another. To reconcile those values harmoniously is the main task of each individual.

Much as the majority of the Turkish-Americans seem to have “made it” in various endeavors, like many immigrants, they have some adjustment problems to work out, such as mastering the language, assimilation, entering the main stream as soon as possible, polishing their manners and to conform to social conventions.

Lately, the Turkish-American phenomenon is debated from various perspectives in Turkey, some call it a brain drain, yet others characterize it a questionable patriotism that causes losing our time-tested traditional values. Those debates, however, do not address the socio-cultural problems of these pioneering generations, nor do they elucidate the matter and offer a fresh perspective to understand their struggle; rather, they provide a forum for some quasi-intellectuals to display their raw chauvinism in blusterous statements. These armchair patriots do titillate the patriotic sentiments of their audience, which sometimes resonate in the Turkish psyche effectively.

Like most of the other ethnic communities, the Turkish-Americans too are the extension of the old country. As they gain strength rapidly in the United States they become an effective voice for their mother land. They enhance the image of Turkey and promote her interests in this country through effective lobbying, media watch and school curriculum campaigns. They create business, trade and tourism potential for Turkey and promote the Turkish culture. Therefore, it is to the benefit of the motherland to have more Turks who are well-adjusted, established and attained status in this country who call themselves “Turkish-American” rather than having individuals with an identity crisis for not being a part of either world, yet call themselves “Proud Turk!” Today, certain countries, like Greece. Israel, Italy and Armenia draw strength from their Diaspora abroad.

As the name implies (Diaspora in Greek means:”dispersion”, “sprout” “to sow”) those countries through their well-established communities grow roots in another country and broaden their cultural, economic, political, educational and social bases. All these translate to creating positive images for the old countries and gain strength.

Very often, in Turkey, people have unrealistic expectations from the Turkish-Americans. They assume that the Turks living abroad should have the same values and the outlook as the Turks living in Turkey. In this country the freedom is widespread. There are respects for the individual choices. There is acceptance, condoning and latitude. In Turkey the norms are more rigid. Tolerance, empathy and forbearance are exercised sparingly. People are prone to fault-finding. This attitude is self-defeating, therefore harmful. Furthermore, it is immature and unbecoming for a country that claims to be democratic. In that regard we have much to learn from America. This country is a colorful mosaic of race, religion, culture, language, and heritage; yet, it is a nation in its true sense. Notwithstanding those fundamental differences, each individual calls himself or herself an American. There is a unity of ideals, aspirations and interests; these are what make a society a nation.

Pennington, NJ

Open Letter to President Barack Obama by Bircan Unver

Bircan Unver, Light Millennium

Bircan Unver, Light Millennium


President Barack Obama
The White House 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Date: April 22, 2011 (Updated: April 23, 2011)

On the “Armenian Resolutions”, “Discriminations” and the on going “Threats” to the Turkish-Americans…

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing this letter for below three requests using my first individual and defense rights that secured by the “First Amendment of the Constitutional” for “freedom of expression” and “every human being has a right to live in dignity and prosperity.
My three Requests are:

1) Ratification of the Republic of Turkey by the U.S. Senate.

2) Withdrawing of the Armenian Resolution from the U.S. House and Senate considerations forever.

3) The Annual U.S. President’s Speech on the Armenian Claims in reference to the 1915 should not continue or equally should represent the loses of the Ottomans and Turks as well as all to respect and include all other major casualties within the related date/s that were caused by the U.S. and other imperial powers throughout the 20th Century, and up today.

As a Turkish-American, since I had stepped on the land of the United States as the Turkish Citizen as the first time in 1989, since then, I’ve been personally attacked, accused, blamed, and almost each and every encounter with an Armenian dissident over 20 years in the U.S. I’ve felt I’ve been snapping on my face sharply, being blamed the murderers of claimed from 1.5 to 3 million Armenian casualties (the claimed numbers changed each time depending on the person) being insulted, discriminated or disabled simply by being Turkish-born. I’ve felt that there are strong favors or subtle discriminations in any efforts I’ve been trying to make over the years by Armenians, wherever an Armenian dissident is in charge or an effect. All that as part of daily base practices happen by Armenian dissidents are to all Turkish dissidents just SIMPLY being a Turkish native.

In person as well as rest of the Turkish-Americans, who live in the U.S., we’ve mostly been facing to similar manner on a daily base in all our efforts and existence here. The Armenian Diaspora’s and U.S. based the Armenian Community’s “unjust”, “unfair”, “blocking in main-stream media and nation-wide television channels” and in most of the effective educational institutions not to allowing our voices to be heard and reach the American community at large via “building up hatred in all Armenians” as well as “in all American nation at large” that starts from the elementary schools in some cities against to all Turkish-American people, who live in the U.S., and to all the Turkish people in Turkey as well as in the world. This has been clearly and openly practiced and turned out one of the most serious violations of “basic birth rights” and “human rights” and another form of discrimination to all Turkish-Americans in the U.S.

Yet, the U.S. Senate has been putting all efforts, very valuable time, and resources in favoring of the Armenian Diaspora against to all Turkish-Americans, Turks worldwide and to the Turkish Nation at large. More importantly, this has been presented and practiced as part of the U.S. Domestic politics since 1981.

This also comes out more and more clear from various subtle layers that all these sources have been used in the eyes of American public to pre-conditioned their minds and built-up hatred nation-wide, in particular, starting within the “education system” in the U.S. This is, also considered as part of a deliberate effort to revitalize the “Treaty of Sevres” (1920). Otherwise, all these ongoing threaten attempts do not serve to the majority citizen of the United States neither to both Armenian and Turkish communities in the U.S. nor in between the neighboring countries.

Moreover, in the recent years of the “Armenian Resolutions”, the U.S. House of Representatives undermines formation and existence of the Republic of Turkey since 1923 (Treaty of Lausanne), in the ways of “presenting” and “voting” in favor of Armenian Resolution each and every year since 1981. In it, initial claim of the year deliberately has changed and extended over the years from 1915 to 1923!

Yet, since the formation of the Republic of Turkey, the U.S. Senate has never “ratified” the “Republic of Turkey”.
This has been encouraging the Armenian Diaspora and all Armenians world-wide since the formation of Turkey with an overall aim; a) bringing back the “Treaty of Sevres” (1920) directly and through with the support of the U.S. House of Representatives; b) Allow and keep encouraging to the Armenian Nation to claim on the international level to divide of Turkey in the name of “compensation” through the U.S. House of Representatives that is also directly serving to this goal while undermining the full rights of the Turkish Nation as well as sovereignty of the Turkey; c) Despite Turkey and the U.S. have been partners through NATO, for the Greater Middle Eastern Project, in over annually 45 billion dollars deal alone in aero and security business, being a hub for the “energy transform” from east to west – south to north, the U.S. attempts to keep bringing the Armenian Resolution to the U.S. HR threats not only Turkey, all the region and in the big picture, majority of people of the United States.

DISCRIMINATION: Turkish-Americans have been discriminated in many areas, various institutions and in media at large in many subtle ways and behind the doors including job placements, blocked collaborations and paid advertisement that every year since 1981, the President of the United States statements on April 24 has been encouraging “anti-acts” to all the Turkish Americans by the Armenian Diaspora, and at large by the Armenian-Americans in any institutions they are involved in any degree. In particular, “anti-Turkish” Armenian Resolution serves increasing hatred against to the Turkish-American Community at large in the United States as well serves much more unfair actions and sustains the conflict and another form of the “cold war” between Turkish-American and Armenian-American communities in the United States at large as well as between the neighboring countries and the world wide.

Mr. President,

As a simple–ordinary Turkish-American Citizen, I claim the following: The U.S. Senate MUST “RATIFIED” the Republic of Turkey since its formation, and withdrawn the Armenian Resolution from the U.S. House and Senate considerations forever.

With that the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives SHOULD never allow to be used as the highest platform to decide destiny of near to 75 million population of Turkey based on the fabricated facts of the history, which is consider, in that part of the history, including the U.S. and all emperor powers of the time has a great role and responsibility of the outcome of the “1915!”

Further, it comes more and more clear that this is still part of the “Old World Order”, which was designed prior WWI that is still in effect despite your vision for a “New World Order” that encourages collaborations, unity and a more peaceful world, which is the most needed one.

I greatly appreciate of your very valuable time for reading this open letter and consideration “Ratification” of Republic of Turkey at the U.S. Senate and withdrawal of Armenian Resolution forever.

Thank you very much,

Respectfully yours,
Bircan Ünver (Culkin), Founding President of The Light Millennium – Permanent Rep. to the UN DPI/NGO Section & A Turkish-American and World Citizen – Queens, New York

– Open Letter as Pdf file

Related links on the Lightmillennium.Org: – Open Letter To: President Obama by Sadi Dinclen – An attempt for Solution – Draft Proposal (2010) – An Open Letter: The Grand National Assembly of Turkey & The National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia – Dated: December 6, 2009 – An Open Letter: A Campaign Request Versus To the Armenian Resolution – Dated: August 26, 2010 Also is available on Yerelce: – An exclusive interview with Şükrü Server AYA: “What is really sacrificed is the TRUTH, that is what and some of my American, Armenian, French, Dutch, Turkish friends are trying to defend.” – An Open Proposal for Turkish & Armenian Synergy: A Manifesto for Revolutionary Relationships (2007 and 2009)
*First Draft: April 24, 2010; Second Draft: May 4, 2010. Finalized: April 22, 2011 – Updated: April 23, 2011.

ATATÜRK’s vision and development programs… Summary by Bircan Unver, Light Millennium

hl_inaugural-group-4-19-13The Light Millennium and the College of Arts and Letters at the Stevens Institute of Technology jointly presented an international conference on the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations and their relation to ideals advanced by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938), founder and the first president of Republic of Turkey. The two-day conference was entitled Pioneer of the Millennium Development Goals: Atatürk and, The conference was held on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, on Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20, 2013.

One of the most accomplished world leaders of the 20th century and founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s (1881-1938) visions, principles, and their implementation from the 1920s on until his departure in 1938, which are nailed down as the pioneering acts and development programs on the multiple level and dimensions as well as from global perspectives of the Millennium Development Goals for 2015 during the Pioneer of the Millennium Development Goals: Ataturk – A Two-Day International Conference at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey on April 19-20, 2013.

High Level Inaugural Session of the conference dedicated to the Eight Goal of the Millennium DevelopmentGlobal Partnerships and International Peace.

Co-chair of the conference, Prof. Foster, opened the Inaugural Session of the conference by inviting Dr. Nariman Farvardin, president of Stevens Institute of Technology, for his welcoming remarks. The dean of College of Arts and Letters, Dr. Lisa Dolling, followed Dr. Farvardin with her own welcoming remarks. She articulated the importance of Ataturk’s dedication to art and science education and the need to imprint ethical responsibilities on students. Then Prof. Foster invited Bircan Ünver for her own concept that led to the conference.

Ms. Suzanne Bilello, Senior Communications and Liaison Officer for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) invited H.E. Ambassador Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations,for his opening remarks. Following his speech, Mr. Akan Rakhmetullin, Deputy Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations presented H.E. Ms. Bryganym Aitimova’s (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations) statement. This was followed by then H.E. Pajo Avirovikj’s, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Macedonia to the United Nations; keynote speaker Stephen Kinzer, author and professor of International Relations of Boston University, and H.E. Carlos E. Garcia Gonzales, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations. Ms. Bilello made a comprehensive presentation about UNESCO and its role and visions within the context of the MDGs. [For the High Level Inaugural Session/April 19REPORT, please click on this link.]

hl-group-all-4-20-13On Saturday, April 20, the conference brought in a diverse and multi-cultural group of academics, students, independent authors/researchers and non-governmental organization representatives. Geographical participations were from Liberia, Turkey in four universities such as Kadir Has, Maltepe (Istanbul), Firat (Elazig) and Anatolian (Eskisehir) universities as well as from Atlanta (Middle Georgia State College), W.DC, Virginia, Connecticut (State University), Toronto (Carleton University), Michigan (NGO), New York (Columbia University), and New Jersey (Stevens). Selected, and all previously announced papers presented.

The morning session of the second day was dedicated to the “Empowerment of Women and Gender Equality, and Universal Education” moderated by David C. Cuthell, Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia University.

During the second day of the conference there were very interesting spectrum in between the different presentations that each of them has brought it one of the key angle’s of the Universal Education, Women Empowerment and Gender Equality as well as the Eradicating Hunger. At the same time, some of the presentations act as the other counterpart of each other such as Prof. Dr. Nezih Orhan and Research Assistant Efe Gozde’s paper on Village Institutes and Universal Education and Robert Weir’s power point presentation on Universal Education; presented in debt Turkey, India and on the global level MDG#2 and literacy level and comparison came it naturally in the minds of the attendees. Similar conceptual connection and another corresponding item came in with Mrs. Sally Shatila Kader’s keynote on Middle East and Arab Spring and Dr. Hamid Akin Ünver’s paper entitled “Sovereignty and Legitimacy as the Basis for Peace: Atatürk’s Principles and the future of the Arab Spring.”

Ataturk Society of America, Dr. Gul Çelkan, Judy Light Ayyildiz and Seden Anlar’s papers offered from multiple angles of the MDG#3 “Women Empowerment and Gender Equality” in Turkey both from its pioneering and inspirational qualities and values as well as its historical perspective. A combination of these also have escalated Ataturk’s role, principles, vision and importance a much more higher global ladder and conscious, which are more relevant and needed in the present time. (Please see Full Report of the Conference).

Dr. Sebahattin Devecioglu’s paper brought it another angle both from the Ataturk Era as well as UN-MDGS with a proposal that development programs and investing in Youth and Sport should be included Beyond the 2015 Agenda of the MDGS.

Afternoon session of the second day of the conference presented “Global Partnership and International Peace” from the academia, NGOs and independent thinkers that also act as the counterpart of the Inaugural Session.

Prof. David Cuthell presented of Atatürk “as the man” of Atatürk rather as an icon or god-like figure, which also has served to Atatürk’s his own vision about himself as Prof. Kinzer’s quoted by Atatürk during his keynote presentation: ““I am leaving no sermon no dogma nor am I leaving as my legacy any commandment that is frozen in time or cast in stone.”

In the “Peace vs Pact: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s Concept of Peace” paper, which presented by Prof. Foster, its author Prof. Özer is highlighted Ataturk as an humanitarian who believed in the equality of nations, and his urge for activisim for the protection of the future of the world as a whole (secularism, education, women’s rights). She also redefined of Leadership with reference to Atatürk’s stance in the face of wars and domination putting an emphasis on his concept of Peace.”

Rev. James Bestman strongly emphasized the urgency to achieving the MDGS in Liberia, in particular, achieving “eradicating hunger” through “universal education”. Rev. Bestman and LCA-Global Initiative also brought in Africa, and one of the least developing countries in our time that also has added tremendously to the overall goal of the concept that is presenting the conference from the global perspectives and on the global level.

Prof. Vassillopulos’s metaphorical and powerful comparison of “Homer and Ataturk” as well as focusing on Ataturk’s “reconciliation” with the neighboring countries immediately after forming of Turkey as well as to prior “enemies”, who were invaded of Gallipoli, and Atatürk message to the mothers of the lost soldiers, “now, your sons are also ours” created a sensational moment at the conference that is alone still stands out one of the most unique examples how a military commander has transformed to a “peace maker” with the world immediately follow by the forming his own country! This quote also brought in both emotion and better understanding of Ataturk’s vision for international peace as well as, Prof. Vassillopulos being from Greek background, added further indebt mean and value to the dedication theme of the conference and the afternoon session of the April 20th.

Prof. Özay Mehmet focused from the economic development agenda in his paper and suggested to the western countries policy makers and to the United Nations to take another approach to achieve the MDGS such as taken up a combination of Ataturkist and Gandhian perspectives for achieving the MDGS.

With all above mentioned that the conference also has brought in several proposals to be included into the Beyond 2015 Agenda of the MDGS.

As it was initially announced, Dr. Aysegül Durakoglu presented a paper entitled “Atatürk: Creating a Universal Language in Turkish Musical Culture” from the cultural implications of Atatürk’s development agenda in the 1920 and 30’s as the concluding session of the conference. A selected and very impressive piano performances from this era presented. Young talent violonist Yigit Karatas accompanied to Dr. Durakoglu.
[For the April 20 REPORT, please click on this link.]

As the overall conclusion of the High Level Inaugural Panel as Prof. Stephen Kinzer is commented on the following: If Ataturk were alive today, he would’ve be a perfect Director of the Millennium Development Goals (or Secretary General of the United Nations). Prof. Kinzer also emphasized and illustrated Atatürk was a very inpatient that might have been caused his early departure, he commented.

With Atatürk’s inpatient personality, forceful and visionary mind, if Atatürk were alive today, indeed, he would’ve been able to achieve the MDGS as in full by the 2015!

The conference is directed by Bircan Ünver of The Light Millennium, and co-chaired along with Prof. Edward Foster of the College of Arts and Letters at Stevens Institute of Technology. 

Special Thanks to: Hande Subasilar, Altnernate Representative of The Light Millennium to the Department of Public Information of the United Nations.

– PROGRAM (Final)
– Full REPORT – April 19-20, 2013 (as work in progress)
– Conference’s FLYER

This Summary may be fully reproduced under the following conditions only:
1. “This SUMMARY of the PIONEER OF THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: ATATÜRK” International Conference was originally e-published by The Light Millennium.”
And, below hyper link to the actual webpage should be included: 
2) For the post-production of the conference’s video-recording as a mini television series (4+1 Highlights) ot 6+1 parts) to be edited and scheduled in Fall 2013; The Light Millennium (with tax exempt/501c3 status) is seeking for sponsorships and donations for post-production of this mini-series. If you are interested in sponsoring it, please email
3) Timeline of the Book Publishing: Depending on availability of sponsorship, in Fall/Winter 2013 or Spring 2014.
4) ALL the presented PAPERS at the conference will be available on The Light Millennium’s website.

Concept Related links:
1921 Constitution
1924 The (First) New Constitution of Turkey
Resolution adopted by the General Assembly [without reference to a Main Committee (A/55/L.2)]
55/2. United Nations Millennium Declaration
2000 Millennium Development Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly:
Millennium Development Goals for 2015:
BEYOND 2015:
34th Session of the General Assembly – Official Document – 19 December 1979
UNESCO – Turkey, Profile of Education:
UNESCO Centenary of Ataturk’s birth – The Executive Board 21) November1979
The Unesco COURIER – November 1981

My Birthday, 19 May by Sebahattin Devecioglu

Prof. Dr. Sebahattin DeveciogluHistory of nations involves important events and dates, which change their destiny, enlighten their future, appreciate the society as a whole and open to a radical change and development, as well as a new structure and formation. If these dates and events become the starting point of a great revolution and a bright future, they gradually become important and permanent holidays.

Holidays that are commonly celebrated by communities are definitely placed on the top of national customs and traditions (1). 19 May 1919, which is the first step of the great revolution within the War of Independence, was accepted as the “Youth and Sports Day” on 19 May 1938. Being among the important national holidays of the Turkish nation, “May 19 the Commemoration of Ataturk Youth and Sports Day” has been established deeply in the Turkish culture and widely esteemed by the society in a commonly official and unofficial way. History of nations involves blurry, rough and dark periods, where it seems impossible to find a way, select a trace and get illuminated. As Ataturk states, majority of people get into a vicious circle on such days and while some of them resort the salvation in uniting with the enemy, some resort in being under the protectiveness and guidance of a stronger foreign state and some resort to establishing weak local resistance organizations. 19 May 1919 is an illuminating date in a dark period (2,3), which is based on dying in an honorable way rather than living in a dishonorable way under contempt and the starting point of a chain of events that occurred afterwards.

Ataturk’s definition of youth generally gains an intellectual meaning by exceeding the age limits; in other words, it goes hand in hand with the innovation of opinions. Ataturk’s statement, Having a young opinion means a person with a real opinion, who sees and understands the truth was used in this context. The Great Leader Ataturk who proclaimed the Republic when he was 42, he stated: “As for me, the youth consists of individuals who adopt the opinions and ideology of this reform and would transfer them to the next generations. In this regard, it is essential to seek, see and think about an ideal youth of opinion in Ataturk’s “Turkish Youth” by exceeding the age limits.  The founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk anticipated that the only solution against those who intended to cause the nation to go back with their old-fashioned opinions as from the beginning of the National Struggle was in youth and young opinions and foresaw that generations who would be raised with a modern mentality would develop his work even further and keep it alive for eternity by protecting it from all kinds of dangers in the future. Thus, Ataturk commended the republic which he called “my greatest work” to the youth and presented the date May 19, when he set off for Samsun to start the War of Independence, to the Turkish youth as the “Youth and Sports Day”.  Placing a great value on this day, Ataturk started his Great Speech on May 19 and when he was asked about his birthday, he answered why not May 19. As well as the expectation, desire and enthusiasm of the people of Samsun, “Ataturk’s special interest” enabled the day to be considered among our national holidays (4).

In 1981, on the other hand, the name of the day was changed as “May 19 the Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day” with a law numbered 2429. The official newspaper that was published on 1 October 1981 issued a program regarding how to celebrate that day in Ankara, the capital, and other cities and explained that this celebration would be organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The addition of the words “the Commemoration of Ataturk” to name of the day is an expression of the great respect for Ataturk, who stated “I was born on May 19”. May 19 is celebrated with physical education and sports shows throughout Turkey and these celebrations turn into a visual feast with simultaneous movements of students of hundreds. May 19 Race, which starts in Samsun and ends in Ankara, has been organized since that day (5).

Having been entrusted with the Republic of Turkey by Ataturk, the youth will progress on the way of science and modernity referred by him in full unity, glorify our nation, arrange our future, and make it enlightened and content. In his statement, “Youth; who have taken on the task of realizing my future goals! I am very pleased and happy since I will leave this country to a youth like you, which understands me”, Ataturk expressed his reliance on the Turkish youth as well. The youth of Ataturk is a youth that pursues great actions just like him, aims at education and knowledge, believes in the existence of modernity primarily in education and technique, research, works and finds for this… grounds on the consciousness forming the Turkish Culture, fulfills its requirements, and sets the goal well….comprehends and expresses the philosophy, principles and goals of Ataturk. Thus, abiding by the principles and reforms of Ataturk, the Turkish youth will bring the Turkish Nation to the highest point of the contemporary civilization within the shortest time, which was His goal (6).


1. Salim Koca, “Türklerde Bayram Anlayışı ve Nevruz”, Ufuk, Sayı 3, (Kasım-Aralık1998), (2-4), s.2

2. Mustafa Turan, “19 Mayıs’ın Türk İstiklâl Harbindeki Yeri ve Önemi”, Türk Yurdu, C.18, Sayı 129, (Mayıs 1998), (41-45), s.4

3. Suna Kili, Türk Devrim Tarihi, Boğaziçi Üni. Yay. 1980,İstanbul, s.20.

4. Utkan Kocatürk, Atatürk’ün Fikir ve Düşünceleri, Ankara, 1984, s.1

5. 19 Mayıs Atatürkü Anma Gençlik ve Spor Bayramı;, Erişim Tarihi : 25.03.2013

6. Aydın Can, Atatürk ve Türk Gençliği, Ç.Ü. Türkoloji-Makale Bilgi Sistemi Makale No : 3646, 03.07.2008

P.S: This article full presantation :The Birth Of The Celebration Of Youth And Sports And The U.N.’S Agenda For Youth And The Encouragement Of Sports, Pioneer Of The Millennium Development Goals: Ataturk, International Conference, The Light Millennium and College of Arts and Letters at the Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey, April 19, 20, 2013

Asst. Prof.  Sebahattin Devecioğlu

(This text  was written with reference to my Birthday May 19, 1968)

Black Sea – an environmental disaster by Ayhan Ozer

Black_Sea_mapWhen I was a child, I always wondered why the Black Sea was called “black”; as this name conjured up in my mind a dark, turbid and muddy body of water. Years later, when I saw the Black Sea I was pleasantly surprised; it was greenish blue and beautiful. Although my worry had been dispelled, the question that gnawed at my mind was not answered… until I came across an article in the New York Times. According to that article, the ancient Turks referred to the Northern direction as “black”, to the South as “white”, to the East as “red.”  This explanation seemed logical as we call the Mediterranean “Akdeniz”, and  the Red Sea is in the East.

The latest news about this beautiful sea are rather gloomy. As the modern world is plagued with the side-effects of the advanced technology and  the ever-increasing world population, these facts take their toll on the air we breath, on our water, and soil. According to the reports, the Black Sea is on the verge of dying, as it succumbs to relentless assaults of the toxic waste as well as human waste dumped by the four major rivers, Danube, Don, Dnieper and Dniester. When the Chernobyl disaster occurred in 1986 in the former Soviet Union, now in Ukraine, the Dnieper river dumped radioactive fallout to the Black Sea, which was a major catastrophe with wide-spread effect on the entire eco system of the region. In addition to these main waterways, large and small some 60 rivers and streams deliver tons of waste and toxic materials from an area inhabited by about 160 million people. Turkey has three major rivers pouring into the Black Sea: Sakarya river, Kizilirmak and Yesilirmak – but none of them carries any toxic  waste.

The river Danube is cited as the main culprit that pollutes the Black Sea. It sweeps through the Central and Eastern Europe, and carries oil, lead, phosphorus and nitrates from farm discharge, and such industrial wastes like chromium and cadmium from Germany, Austria, Hungary,  Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova to the Black Sea. In addition, the Black Sea has been a dumping ground of the oil tankers and the freighters. They clean out their oil tanks, flush their ballasts, dump loads of dangerous sludge and waste with impunity, and gradually turn it into a cesspool. Also, with these ballasts tons of jellyfish from Atlantic ocean have been brought to the Black Sea. This new specimen, 4 inches long, is foreign to Black Sea, and thrives on polluted waters, and devours all fish eggs and the plankton on its path. This is another cause that brings the Black Sea on the verge of dying. Once seals and dolphins, caviar and fish were so plentiful,  now they are endangered species, and no one had thought such bounty could ever depleted.

There are scientific findings that the Black Sea is rapidly losing its oxygen and its ability to purge itself. The oxygenated segment, which is only about 300 feet deep, seals off huge hydrogen sulfide and methane segment underneath, but with the dramatic decrease in the living organisms these oxygen carrying elements are rapidly disappearing.  Researches indicate that today the Black Sea is four times more polluted than the Mediterranean. According to the Turkish government the Black Sea catch dropped almost 95 percent during the last years, from 340,000 tons per year to 15,000 tons.

Although this problem may seem like a regional issue, in the broader perspective it is an environmental emergency case which affects large segment of the population as well as our natural resources. With the ever increasing awareness in ecology, the affected countries need to focus on this common problem, because if not worked out judiciously every country will share in the disaster. It is time to cooperate across the borders to save the beautiful Black Sea.


October 1991

International women’s day and a new horizon by Ayhan Ozer

“Women’s conditions will never change – until men change!”  Gloria Steinham

Each year on March 8 the world celebrates the International Women’s Day, and  salutes women around the world for their perpetual struggles to reinforce their civic rights. The world fully recognizes the enormous contributions that the women have made to our civilizations by elevating the standards of our society.  On this day the focus is on the rich potential of women which is a cherished gift for any society, and the world extends gratitude to women for this blessing. Also, on that occasion we are deeply conscious about the joint efforts needed to eliminate the hurdles that impede women from achieving their exalted goals.

The International Women’s Day concept was first recognized on March 8, 1908, the date New York textile workers – all women – called a strike to demand safer working conditions and to condemn child labor. On March 8, 1917, during WW I, this time women in Russia engaged in a strike for “Bread and Peace”. Four days later the Czar Nicholas abdicated, and the new government under Lenin, declared March 8 an official holiday celebrating “The Heroic Women Workers of Russia.”  In 1975 the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on the same day, March 8. Two years later, in December 1977 the  U.N. General Assembly adopted a Resolution proclaiming the ” Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace” to be observed by the member nations.

In those celebrations, usually the agenda is crowded with a whole range of women issues, such as equal access to health care, educational opportunities, jobs and equal pay, prevention of forced abortion and prostitution, female infanticide to evade dowry, genital mutilation, wartime and marital rape and honor killings. Other peripheral issues that are historically part of the fabric in certain societies are also introduced to the platform for addressing. For instance, in most countries medicine is slow to address the female-specific diseases, schools  short-change girls, and domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women. In certain die-hard societies the musty traditions are regarded by the male establishment as the foundation of their power. There are even religious injunctions against land and property ownership by women which relegate them to an economical pariah status. And, statistically about 60% of working women, worldwide, are sexually harassed at work.

On the bright side however, it is encouraging to see so many earnest women, even in the third world countries, strive to improve their conditions. Thanks to this newly raised consciousness more and more countries have taken positive steps in recognizing women’s plight and granting asylum to women fleeing inhuman conditions in their own countries, such as severe domestic abuse and various forms of culturally-motivated violence.

Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension. The growing awareness about women issues has become a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and their participations in the political, educational, economic as well as the artistic areas.

One persistent case in women issues is the women’s condition in Islamic countries. With the advent of Islam the lot of women had been hoped to improve. Alas, women’s social, educational and economic conditions in the Islamic countries are in a primitive level, mainly because Islam considers women inferior physically, intellectually and morally to men. A great majority of those abused women who seek asylum in the West come from Muslim countries in Africa, the Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan and Indonesia.

In those countries, the first visible hurdle for women to overcome is the dress code. Unless Muslim women discard their burqas, chador and head-scarves they can hardly achieve any progress in women’s rights. A woman with no face is deprived of her personhood, her name, her dignity, and her purchase on humanity.  A woman draped in cloth from head to toe can not be recognized in public, and therefore has no public persona, her existence is impersonal.

Any religion that requires total obedience without reasoning is not likely to produce people capable of critical thought with free and independent judgment. Such a situation is conducive to the development of a powerful clergy, and is  responsible for the intellectual, cultural and economic stagnation especially of women in the Islamic world for centuries. Before Muslim women can address any issue, the foremost battle they must wage is to revolutionize the way they present themselves in a society — both visibly and intellectually.

The International Women Day is a priceless opportunity to reflect upon the progress made by the heroic women all over the world. Also, it gives us inspiration and motivation to call for further changes and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and their communities.

Pennington, NJ

2nd March 2013