As April 24 turns into a date for ‘war on commemorations’ after Erdoğan’s move

Turkish president Erdoğan said today that the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli be commemorated on April 24 this year, adding ‘leaders from 30 nations will be present there.’

The issue has now turned into a deliberate clash between Turkey and Armenia over commemorating 100th anniversary of the WW1 in Turkey and the Armenian Genocide, on the same day.

Here are some excerpts of Tom de Waal’s blog on the issue.

In six weeks’ time, on April 24, Armenia and Turkey will hold competing centennial commemorations, each studying the international guest list to see who did and did not come.

It is a political row that could easily have been avoided if the Turkish government had moved its ceremony honoring the Battle of Gallipoli only one day later, to April 25. It has been obvious for many years that on April 24 Armenians will commemorate the centenary of the tragedy of 1915 they now know as the Armenian Genocide.

They first marked that day in 1919 in British-administered Istanbul. In 1915, April 24 was the day that 200 Armenian leaders and intellectuals were arrested by the Ottoman authorities as a prelude to the mass deportation and partial destruction of the entire Armenian population of the empire.

The following day, April 25, 1915, British imperial forces, along with men from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps or ANZAC in the forefront, landed at Gallipoli to try and capture Istanbul and defeat the Ottoman empire. Thousands of soldiers died. Very soon April 25 was known as ANZAC day.

April 25 was therefore the obvious day to hold international commemorations for the Gallipoli battles.

Another possible date would have been March 18, the day in 1915 when the Allied force first sailed up the Straits and began the campaign.

However, current Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chose to hold the Gallipoli centennial ceremonies on April 24, precipitating a direct clash with the commemorations in Yerevan. The obvious conclusion is that this was a direct attempt to divert attention and guests from the Armenian commemorations.

By doing this, Erdoğan undid some of the good work he had done last year by issuing the first ever statement of condolences to the Armenians by a Turkish leader.

For the entire blog, click here.


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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