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"I'll Punish England!"

As the victors of WWI in San Remo, Italy (19 Apr - 26 Apr 1920) were discussing the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal Pasha had something more ambitious in his mind.


He had been waiting anxiously but confidently in Ankara for the elected representatives from each region to arrive. On 21 April, he had sent a telegram across the Ottoman districts announcing the inauguration of the Meclis-i Mebusan; Turkish National Assembly, during the following Friday on 23 April.

Allied leaders had already carved the dying Empire out and the idea was to leave only Ankara and its surrounds to a new Turkish state. They wanted suzerainty for Izmir for example, a grand Armenia on today's Turkey. That's what they were discussing in Italy, how to "fairly distribute" the lands of the former Empire.

Mustafa Kemal knew this plan would not hold stitch and was unfair.

He was to get his mandate as commander in chief and then the president from the will of the people.

On 30 April, his comments was published in the Western press with no mention of the new national assembly. Kemal Pasha was vowing to punish England for its role in unfairly handing over the majority Turkish lands to others. While to many readers this was an absurd and over confident statement, Whitehall personnel were getting nervous. Kemal's call was to be heard by another man of peace and one of the great leaders of 20th century; Mahatma Gandhi in India.

Gandhi was to address Indians, who felt betrayed by London after broken promises about not to be sent to fight against Ottoman Khalifa.

"In fighting for the Turks, you are fighting to raise the dignity and purity of your own faith,” Gandhi said while in jail for his support to the Turkish cause.

At the end, history has proven Mustafa Kemal right. England paid heavily and lost its grip on colonial lands, including India, while the Republic of Turkey continues its journey towards its goals.

This coming 23 April, there will be many celebrations to mark the anniversary of the inauguration of the Turkish National Assembly across Australia.

One of these events will take place in Sydney's Hyde Park at 12PM on Saturday.





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