Speech Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Şakir Özkan Torunlar, Consul General of Turkey in Jerusalem, at the Commemoration Ceremony Held on the Occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Killing of Major Turgut Cengiz Toytunç And Ms. Catherine Berruex, Al Khalil, 26 March 2012

Şakir Özkan Torunlar 26.03.2012
Today is the tenth anniversary of the tragic deaths of Major Turgut Cengiz Toytunç and Ms. Catherine Berruex, who lost their lives while serving to peace in Al Khalil.

26th of March 2002 was also the day on which Captain Hüseyin Özarslan was wounded when the gunmen opened fire on three of them.I would like to welcome Mr. Özarslan and his wife who travelled to Al Khalil and joined us in this commemoration ceremony.

As you may recall, March 2002 was not an easy period in the history of Al Khalil. Not only the residents of the town, but the entire TIPH staff who have always been unarmed, were facing extreme dangers from all directions. Perhaps, as a result of this, these three observers were deliberately attacked, shot dead and wounded. Unfortunately, those who have blood in their hands are still at large.

On this occasion, I would like to salute the souls of Mr. Toytunç and Ms. Berruex while expressing our full solidarity with their family members. No words may reflect my feelings in sharing the pain of Mrs Berruex, mother of Catherine and Ms. Toytunç, sister of Turgut Cengiz, even after 10 years.

After 10 years, today, we see that the murderers and their masters could not achieve their target. TIPH, the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, with its member countries governments and observers on the ground are working more determined than ever in maintaining peace and harmony in this holy city, home of the faithful for centuries and twin of Şanlıurfa in Turkey.

I also would like to take this opportunity to thank to each and every TIPH observer who are hundreds and thousands of kilometers away from their families waiting them at home and are with us in this room. We all know that, today, the fellow observers are probably facing much more physical obstacles in exercising their mission than ten years ago. However, the strong memory of Mr. Toytunç and Ms Berruex, two peace-lovers from Turkey and Switzerland gives them strength they need in their mission.

Thank you for your patience.

Ahmet Rıza Demirer Consul General