Dear Members of the Turkish American Community and Friends of Türkiye,
On August 30, 2012, we celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Victory at Dumlupinar, which was the final battle of the Turkish War of Independence against the occupying forces of Britain, France, Italy and Greece.
Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I (1914-1918), the final chapter of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1923) ended. First came the violent occupation by the Allied Forces and their proxies (1918-1922) and then the infamously racist Treaty of Sevres (1920) which attempted to maintain a servile sultan to administer and exile the Turkish Muslims and Jews, while dividing the Turkish peninsula among the allies.
This meant handing southern Turkey to France, the Turkish Riviera and Aegean Islands to Italy, western Turkey to Greece, and Istanbul and the straits to Britain. While Turks of Muslim and Jewish heritage were subject to massacres and relocation to central Turkey, the Turkish Kurds were to be suppressed under western colonial rule, and an Armenia was to be created in northeastern Turkey.
Under the leadership of revolutionary leader and visionary statesman Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the diverse people of Turkey joined in solidarity to defend their homeland in the War of Independence (Kurtuluş Savaşı: see video 1 and video 2). Anatolian men and women, young and old, fought in the ranks of the Turkish Independence Movement, with little or no resources but determination and passion.
The Battle of Dumlupinar began on August 26, 1922 and ended on August 30. One year later, on July 24, 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed, establishing the peace by recognizing people of Turkish nationality and their new country as global equals, and defining the borders of the Turkish Republic.
August 30, 1922, was a turning point in Turkish and world history in four important respects:
- The victory of August 30 stopped western imperialism and colonialism in Turkey. After the War of Independence, in which the occupiers burned villages to the ground and massacred tens of thousands of civilians, Turkey laid a waste land. But it was a long awaited paradise for a people who treasure their freedom, independence and sovereignty above all.
- The victory of August 30 paved the way for a popular revolution from theocracy to secular democracy, from empire to republic, from centralized to liberal economy, from Ottoman subject to citizenship based on Turkish nationality, from elitism to equality and freedom for all.
- Turkey became a land of refuge for hundreds of thousands of people from the Balkans, Middle East and Caucuses. Indeed, while America was a land of immigrants and opportunity, the new Turkish Republic was a land of refugees and security for all persecuted. Both lands provided freedom to pursue happiness, with liberty and justice for all.
- Finally and perhaps most importantly, the Turkish War of Independence and Atatürk's Revolution established a precedent for all peoples who desire to be sovereign, independent and productive participants in the world.
On this day, the Assembly of Turkish American Associations commemorates those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Turkish War of Independence, commends Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's everlasting legacy, and expresses its gratitude to the millions of Turkish citizens who tirelessly strive and sacrifice to uphold the universal principles upon which the Republic of Turkey was founded.
Assembly of Turkish American Associations