Mehmet Baydar

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Mehmet Baydar (1924 – January 27, 1973) was a Turkish diplomat who was assassinated by Armenian Genocide survivor Gourgen Yanikian in Santa Barbara, California in 1973.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Istanbul in 1924. After finishing Robert College and Law school of Istanbul University, he studied in the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris of Paris University. In 1950, he entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs service.

Career[edit]

After serving one year in the Economics Department, he was appointed to the newly established NATO Department of the ministry. In 1960, he was appointed as the chief secretary in the Turkish Embassy in Washington DC, USA. In 1966, he returned to Ankara to serve in the CENTO Department. In 1972, he became the chief consul in Los Angeles, California. His service area included the most of the western states of the United States.

Assassination[edit]

On January 27, 1973, the 77-year-old Gourgen Yanikian, under the alias of an Iranian man named Yaniki, met with Baydar and vice-consul Bahadır Demir at the Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara, promising to make a gift of a bank note and a painting stolen from the Ottoman palace more than a century earlier to Turkey.[1] As the three men began to converse over lunch, Yanikian revealed to them that he was not Iranian, but Armenian and a survivor of the Armenian Genocide.[2] Baydar dropped the bank note in anger and a heated exchange took place. Yanikian then pulled a Luger pistol from a hollowed-out book and emptied nine rounds at them, hitting them in the shoulders and chest, though none of the wounds were lethal. As Baydar and Demir lay on the ground Yanikian pulled out a Browning pistol from a drawer and fired two rounds into the head of each man, "what he considered mercy shots."[3]

That neither man was alive during the genocide "mattered little to Yanikian," according to journalist Michael Bobelian: "Just as Ottoman dehumanization of the Armenians a half century earlier opened the door for so many ordinary citizens to participate in the Genocide, Yanikian came to view the men not as human beings, but as symbols of decades of injustice."[4]

Legacy[edit]

A high school in Istanbul[5]and a street in Ankara[6]are named after Mehmet Baydar.

Baydar was survived by his wife Güner and two daughters.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "UPI. Author Yanikian Refuses To Plea." Beaver County Times. Feb. 27, 1973.
  2. ^ Bobelian. Children of Armenia, p. 147.
  3. ^ Bobelian. Children of Armenia, pp. 147-48.
  4. ^ Bobelian. Children of Armenia, p. 146.
  5. ^ School page
  6. ^ Ankara street map
  7. ^ Bilal Şimşir: Şehit Diplomatlarımız, Bilgi yayınevi, İstanbul, Vol 1, ISBN 975-494-925-5 p.82