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Is ANZAC DAY in Gallipoli Dying?

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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Mei 2017 7:10    Onderwerp: Is ANZAC DAY in Gallipoli Dying? Reageer met quote

Anzac Day to me for many years has been spent on the Peninsula. In the past thirty odd years I’ve brought people to this solemn and isolated WW1 battlefield. People often ask me “Roachie, when is the best time to visit Gallipoli?” I usually reply with a slight chuckle in my voice…”Any day other than Anzac Day”…. That said, we still need to be able to commemorate our war dead, those who survived and those who want to know more about our recent tragic involvement in all wars, starting with the landing here on 25th April 1915.

Now I don’t want to play the ‘Blame Game’ and can’t really say it’s one person or one organisation, one country, or any set of people who come to this place.

Let’s look back in time a bit…… let’s put it into some geopolitical reference. Visits to Gallipoli started early on, usually families of those buried or who fought here, just about from the moment the guns fell silent in 1918. The popularity of the sites increased after the second round of memorial building and the consolidation of outlying single graves into the 30 odd cemeteries in 1934. We must pause for a moment to look back at the day in 1934 when the battlefield was safe and ready to receive visitors. On that day the leader of the recently formed Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, too ill to travel at the time, sent his envoys to read these immortal words…

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours … You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk 1934″.

Those words ring true not just for this battlefield but wherever soldiers lie with their comrades in foreign fields. He was one great man who brought ‘The sick man of Europe’ the Ottoman Empire, now the Republic of Turkey into a modern age of secularism, democracy, votes for women, to name just a few of his reforms.

I’m sorry but this post is going to be a long’un……..

There were times, especially around the 60’s and 70’s when Australia was still hurting over our involvement in politically inspired conflicts, Vietnam, Malaysia etc that there was a distaste for war…. in 1974 only three people and the Australian Ambassador saw in the Dawn Service. It was a time when Australian’s questioned the relevance of Anzac Day. The 1990’s saw a resurgence in numbers, especially the 1990 and 1995 services Numbers grew and waned over the decade all in the build up to the 2015 centenary. The DVA had it’s stranglehold on the event and limited the numbers to 10,500 but this was not by far the largest crowd ever to attend.

Sadly many have short memories especially the media. In 2016 and 2017 the event was marred by sensationalist media reports of non-existent terrorist threats. Apart from their terror ridden reports one thing that was always going to happen was that after the 2015 centenary there was going to be an immediate and vacuous drop in attendance. Afterall, WW1 went for four years. After the Anzacs left Turkey they went on to fight and die on the Western Front and in Palestine, so it only makes sense that all those interested in the Anzac Spirit will go to seek it out at centenaries held between 2015 and 2018. So, it really hasn’t come to us as any surprise that numbers for 2016 and 2017 would drop off. If you Google ‘terror threat Gallipoli Dawn Service’ you’ll find the same media hysteria for 2016 as this years media panic-wagon. It is ludicrous for Australians or it’s sensationalist media would think that the past two years would attract the same numbers as the Centenary. So I tell the Australian media,,,, and the DVA who were very pleased to tow the terrorist line for their own agenda of deterring people from what is an expensive exercise each year. Please stick to the facts…. the reality. Sure Turkey like all European countries are struggling with terrorism and Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian war does place it in a prime position for such terror. However the local Jandarma and police have always kept our Service safe. Anzac isn’t like the Western Front, it’s isolated, one road in…. one road out.

I had the privilege particularly this year to speak to many media organisations, TV, print and radio. They all led off with the same lines ‘What do you think of the terror threat?….. ‘How are people reacting to the heightened security and the terror threat?’… you get the gist of it. After I asked them for proof of a threat and that nobody here could care less, they would then move onto the event and the people there instead. So there was no drop in numbers due to any imagined terror threat, in fact over 500 people registered in advance for the Services, if there had been any terror threat effect then surely less would have turned up, in fact over 750 turned up, the extras got their passes at the door. So unless they are all crazy and anted to come here to be victims of terror, then the media got it woefully WRONG!!! So that’s my view on Anzac 16 and 17 and the Australian media’s ideas they’d love us all to believe….. They got NO sensationalism from either me or my clients…..

Now the Turkish side of things…. As we all know and appreciate, we are guests of this country. Our bonds of friendship cemented well and truly from the Armistice of 24th May. I can’t imagine Australians letting the Japanese come to Darwin or Townsville to commemorate WW2, but every year since the end of WW1, we have been welcomed.

Things are changing in this country, not just for us visitors but also for the Turks themselves. I won’t get political about it, however, it seems that there are those who are working to turn back the clock on the Republic formed by Ataturk. It comes in the form of government sponsored free tours of Gallipoli. Not only do they now dominate the visitor numbers to the Turkish memorials and some CWGC sites. The government has slowly transformed and encroached on the dates we expect thousands of foreigners to arrive. Turks have always commemorated the victory over the Allies on 18th March when they beat back the mighty fleets of the British and French….. this was their day. 23rd of April the anniversary of the establishment of the Republic’s new parliament had long been the day that Turkey celebrated as the national kids day. Still apart from representation at our Services and the Turkish Service in the south at the Mehmetcik Memorial, there was little interaction. What interaction there was was when foreign visitors met Turkish locals, there was always smiiles, questions, photos, questions, gifts exchanged before moving on.

Well sadly all that seems to have changed. It began when a government supported scout federation decided to march teenagers from Kocadere upto the heights of Chunuk Bair, almost perfectly coinciding with the official NZ Service. Recently the NZ Service was surrounded by these teenagers, urged on by their leaders, and chant insults and yells at those gathered for their solemn service. Let us not forget that this is their country and Turks have every right to do as they please. Let’s also remember that during the 2015 centenary the statue of Ataturk was surrounded by scaffold and all the plaques in English and Turkish removed. There seems to have been an accute rise in nationalism since last year’s attempted coup. The leadership seem happy to let groups gather to celebrate their victory over someone…..anyone, no matter what the consequences. This year as I escorted my 18 Australians and one American around the battlefield, instead of being met by happy and smiling faces of local villagers from Anatolia, with the smiling inquisitive kids asking questions, practicing their English, we were met with frowns, the chanting teenage boys with the same insults about Anzac grandmothers, women herding their children together to avoid contact and steer them clear of the foreigners….

One big reason for this is that there are illegal government supported guides, given the same stories to tell these millions of villagers. These guides work outside the normal Guide Associations, illegally you might say, but their revised history always contains the same rhetoric…. Mustafa Kemal, if mentioned at all was just a junior officer and had nothing at all to do with victory in the Canakkale Savas (war), that a divine cloud came down one day and scooped up the Norfolk Regiment in Suvla, that the Ottomans never left you…. and that foreigners who come here aren’t to be trusted, afterall the West is in some conspiracy to bring down the so called ‘economic miracle’ that is Turkey.. My sadness took a turn for the worse on the 23rd this year when from a tent the Ezaan’s call to prayer was blasted at several hundred decibels to all along the Second Ridge, even though, at the moment, there is no mosque in the battlefield. Having lived here for over twenty years and with the deepest respect for Islam I have to say I was shocked.

Anzac is a fragile place, scratch the earth and you reveal the bones of a soldier that died here. Consider that nearly half the Australians who died in Gallipoli have no known grave. Not to mention the uncounted thousands of Turkish defenders whose bones lie in mass graves or scattered throughout the wild scrub. The Second and Third Ridge roads were designed to move traffic in one direction without the need to widen the existing road to allow for two way traffic.

On the May 1st weekend this year, there were so many coaches full of locals enjoying their FREE government sponsored tours, led by illegal, history-revisionist guides. Thousands of coaches filled the Second Ridge Road, so much so that the road itself was closed from the sea to Chunuk Bair! Telling amazing stories of Divine Clouds that came down and took the enemy soldiers away! The destruction of the history of Mustafa Kemal {Ataturk}, being brushed under the rug to please the new political propaganda of the 21st century…… Then this week, on the eve of the 19th of May, the opening of events in 1919 that would lead to Turkey’s War of Independence and then the formation of the Republic of Turkey, the famous memorial featuring the speech from Ataturk to the ‘Mothers who sent their sons from far away lands’ was conveniently destroyed in the name of supposed much needed restoration….. without notice, without warning…… It’s all about the timing. In 2015 during the 100th anniversary commemorations that the same authorities left the Ataturk statue on Chunuk Bair surrounded in scaffold, the famous inscriptions taken down or placed upside down, in an obvious political move to hide the efforts of this great man. There re those who yearn for their own statues to replace those of Ataturk. in fact they could never hope to reach the bootstraps of such a leader, no matter how many SHOEBOXES you stack on top of each other.

I know this is a hell of a long blog. But if people are going to visit this fragile environment in the future there needs to be a working policy on SUSTAINABILITY for the battlefield. Local operators are already wringing a dry sponge to survive, but they also need to kiss the hands of these politicians and therefore send much of the time hoping that next year will be better. For the sake of all those who have made Gallipoli their life’s work, they need to bang their heads together and activate for the future of their businesses, their staff, the locals who rely on this slender piece of ground. Where are the DVA, the CWGC and those who seem to know better than us who live and work here?
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Mei 2017 8:51    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Dat ziet er verontrustend uit.
Met hart en ziel
De enige echte
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Mei 2017 12:23    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Nou werken er op mijn afdeling twee Turkse jongens, dus ik ben naar die site gegaan en heb de foto met de bijbehorende tekst uitgeprint en heb gevraagd wat er staat.
Het zijn herstelwerkzaamheden, 16 monumenten worden opgeknapt en de letters worden weer leesbaar gemaakt en tekstfouten herstelt.
Eind 2017 moeten de werkzaamheden gereed zijn.
If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied
-Rudyard Kipling-
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Mei 2017 13:33    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Mooi, ook weer opgelost Smile
Met hart en ziel
De enige echte
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