Turkey ‘Regrets Shooting of Liberians’

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The Foreign Minister of Turkey, Professor Ahmet Daavutoglu, has expressed his government’s deepest regrets over the shooting incident involving four Liberians, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia said Monday, April 21.

The incident occurred early this month in Istanbul, Turkey’s capital. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Turkish Foreign Minister, who spoke in a telephone conversation with Liberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan, said all efforts are being exerted by security forces in Istanbul to have the perpetrator arrested and brought to justice.

Foreign Minister Ngafuan had earlier called his counterpart’s attention to the need for proper post-surgical medical care for the victims. Minister Ngafuan also called on his Turkish counterpart to ensure proper security for the four as well as other Liberians living in Turkey in order to avert any possible recurrence of the situation. The Liberian Foreign Minister also urged Turkish authorities to step up efforts aimed at ensuring the shooter is speedily brought to justice.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dispatched Senior Ambassador-at-Large, Marcus Kofa, to the Republic of Turkey on a special mission.  Amb. Kofa arrived in Istanbul on Sunday, April 20, and met with the victims Monday morning. Ambassador Kofa informed headquarters that arrangements have been concluded for the victims to be given continued and adequate medical attention by Turkish authorities. The Foreign Ministry release said Ambassador Kofa is now heading for Turkey’s political capital, Ankara, where he will hold talks with Turkish Government authorities on the unfortunate incident and the need to bring it to a mutually acceptable conclusion.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also announced that it is fully sponsoring the travel of one of the family members of the victims to Turkey to ascertain first hand the conditions of their loved one and to provide domestic care for them. The family member is to depart Liberia this week.

It can be recalled that an unknown gunman at a coffee shop located in Sisli Mecediyeko around the Trump Tower in Istanbul, shot and seriously wounded four Liberians. The four Liberians are Bemore N. Toe, Patience Roberts, Deddeh Simmonds and Blessing Vinton.

Turkey does not have a diplomatic mission, representative or Honorary Consul in Liberia at present. The Liberian Government had to send a diplomatic note to the Turkish Embassy in Accra, Ghana, seeking explanation into the shooting of Liberian citizens there.

Regardless of the absence of a Turkish representative to Liberia, however, the two countries continue to enjoy some level of mutual relationship as manifested by Turkish business establishments and a school in Liberia.

Some Turkish entrepreneurs early this year opened a furniture store on 23rd Street in Sinkor.  It can also be recalled that based on the kind gesture of the Turkish Government some Liberian business tycoons including Liberian Business Association president Dee Maxwell Kemayah and renowned Liberian banker and president of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Francis A. Dennis, travelled to Turkey last year with others to attend a business meeting there.

From the meeting, some Turkish business entrepreneurs assured their Liberian counterparts of relating to them in business venture especially in the area of Transportation.

The Turkish Light International School is also located in Sinkor, Monrovia and is catering to the education needs of Liberians here.  A few years back the school took some of its Liberian students to Turkey for a visit to gain some experience in that country.

There are also many Liberian students in Turkey, benefiting from bilateral scholarships in order to return to Liberia to help develop the country.

F. Momolu Dorley, a former Daily Observer employee now living in Istanbul, told this paper that he and others visited the hospitals where the victims are receiving treatment. The victims told Dorley that they had been sitting in a coffee shop sipping coffee and entertaining themselves with tales just to pass off the day when a Turkish man entered and engaged the proprietor of the coffee shop in a debate. The victims, who did not speak Turkish, heard "American" multiple times in the Turkish men’s discussion. In the blink of an eye, the Turkish visitor retreated and soon returned with a gun and shot his innocent victims, who were Liberian — not American.

Dorley, who speaks and writes the Turkish language, later explained the outburst based on what he gathered from the victims: “It is now established that the shooter had said ‘Amerikali gormek istemiyor,’ which translates: I do not want to see Americans!”

“It is very palpable that Liberia shares many traits with America, especially the flag. However, the four victims never had anything on them that had to do with Liberia or America,” Dorley told the Observer.

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