Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia ASALA

Kevork Guzelyan, former ASALA terrorist who attacked Turkish embassy and murdered the security guard in 1981: I would like to pray at Celal’s grave one day.

We were having a chat with Armenians from Aleppo, Beirut and Damascus in a cafe in Machtods, one of the biggest boulevards of Yerevan. A man like from World War I movies was sitting at the neighbouring table. Everybody saluted him with great respect. Our staring at him with full of questions attacked the target and our friends told about his identity.

“Kevork Guzelyan, former ASALA militant”

We were not familiar with the face, however his name is sooooo familiar. Our Armenian friends asked us with hesitation due to the fact that we still have pains because of ASALA attacks against Turkish embassies and consulates and murders of countless Turkish diplomats.

“Would you like to interview?”
“We are jorunalists. We interview either the victim or the murderer.”
Kevork Guzelyan stood up and came to our table. He was a typical Armenian fedai of our age with his curly moustache that we saw in history books.

1981 Paris Attack

We went back 19 years earlier with Kevork Guzelyan. 24 September 1981, it was 11:15 a.m. ASALA team of four terrorists were taking 57 people as hostages in Turkish Embassy in Paris with heavy guns, bombs and pistols. Weapons spoke when embassy personnel resisted. Two of the terrorists were wounded, embassy guard Celal Özen was shot on head and was dead. Consulate Kaya Inal was heavily wounded. This attack was one of the rings of bloody attacks against Turkey by ASALA.

Kevork Guzelyan, who was the team leader of Paris attack, is now sitting just next to us.

Celal was a brave person

Kevork Güzelyan, was in prison for 7 years in Paris and one year in Beirut after this bloody attack. According to news published in those days’ newspapers security guard Celal Özen was shot on head with one bullet.
When Kevork Guzelyan was talking about the attack, he was using glory sentences like “Celal was very brave, was a huge guy and couregaous” about whom he murdered himself.

Then why did he shoot him on the head with one bullet when he was defendless?

Guzelyan, tells the attack in details of Celal Özen:

“When we entered the building, they turned the lights off. I just saw Celal at that time. He was trying to get to our behinds by running in the round corridor. I started to run towards him in the same corridor. There was Fahri Çall? with him. We were chest to chest in the narrow corridor. We pulled the trigger at the same time, but both of ours did not fire. Because the noses of both guns were touching eachother, when the nose is closed, you can not fire the gun. For sometime I got my hand back and pulled the trigger. Then Celal was shot and Fahri Çall?’s face was covered with blood. Celal was dead. Fahri first leaned the wall and then kneeled down by the wall.

At the grave of Celal

Guzelyan treats the second security guard different.
“Didn’t you shoot him?”
“No, I did not?”
“He was defendless. We did not want to kill anybody in that attack. We only want French president Mitterand to talk about ASALA in the press conference.”
He again talks about Celal Özen.
“Celal had a baby three days before. He had come to drop his gun. If we had come half an hour later, he would not be dead. He was a valiant guy, he was heroic…”
“Are you sorry to murder him?”
“As I said in the court he was a hero person. Celal was defending his own country and I was defending my people. We were chest to chest. One of us would die!”

Kevork Guzelyan, reminds us that he was sentenced to death in Turkey and say, “it is not possible now, but if it is possible to visit Turkey one day, I would like to go to visit Celal’s grave.”
It is not easy to understand this feeling. First murder him, then kneel down in front of him with respect.

Guetamala, Palestine and Karabakh

When we were speaking to him, Armenians from Aleppo, Beirut and Damascus were in our table. Sometimes interview got soften. They were talking about lives with tangos and passioned loves in Argentina. To provoke Guzelyan, we were saying, “look what your people are doing when you were ruining your life in the jails.” To show not to fall of them, he responded us:

“I have been to Latin America, too.”
“Where in Latin America?”
“I fought with guerillas in Guetamala.”
“Where else did you fight?”
“I fought in Lebanon civil war. I fought for Falanjists (Radical Christians) for a year and then at the side of Palestinians for three years.”
“Why did you change sides?”
“Falanjists were not humans.”
“For instance we were taking over a neighbourhood. They were killing children, women, old people, everbody. I said not to do, I said that war has rules. Nobody listened to me. I am a Christian as well, but that is the truth.”
“Did not Palestinians do the same?”

His war line continued in Armenian-Azeri war in Karabakh. He served as a major for four years in the Armenian army.

Guzelyan, who has a Russian wife called Irina now, was married with an American woman before. When he was in jail in France, he finished the school of history in Sourbonne University. He finished his education with a master degree. He speaks Armenian, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish.

When we asked his occupation, he replied us, “I am not fighting anymore.”

ASALA is not finished

We are asking “bloody years” ASALA question.

“Did ASALA reach its goals?”
“Yes. We wanted genocide to be discussed. There was a discussion at an academical level before, after ASALA genocide was started to be discussed politically.”
“Is it OK to murder other people for the rights of other murdered people?”
“We were not murdering people. We were attacking a foundation, a state, a uniform.”
“Then why is ASALA finished?”
“ASALA is not finished. He reached his goals and stopped attacking. Genocide is discussed at any level from now on. We did not have a state at that time. Now we have independent Armenia.”

Were 15 prisoners released?

Guzelyan tells about the circumstances to stop Paris attack:
“We not only attacked for our people but also attacked for people of Turkey. We have 5 Armenian, 5 Turkish, 5 Kurdish revolutionists released to stop the attack.”
“How did you know that they were released?”
“We had phone line with French Police. We also saw them on TV, they were brought to the airport. Then we stopped and surrendered. Even if Turkey did not release them, I would stop it anyway.”

Adnan Bulak, who is the Turkish ambassador in Paris at that time, says in Milliyet newspaper on September the 25th, 1981:
“Armenian terrorists are talking through. We can not negotiate with Armenians. This is the policy of Turkish government.”

By Naz?m Alpman
Milliyet Newspaper
Yerevan, 15 October 2000

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