A play featuring the coffins of “killed soldiers” and children playing the roles of “veteran soldiers” and “grieving mothers” at an elementary school in the Bağcılar district of Istanbul has drawn widespread criticism after photos emerged on social media.
The second grade students at the Vali Cahit Bayar Elementary School staged a play on the 102nd anniversary of the Çanakkale War – known in English as the Battle of Gallipoli – when Ottoman forces repelled an Allied World War I assault on the Dardanelles in 1915.
The boys were dressed in soldier clothes, while the girls enacted the wives and relatives of the fallen soldiers, daily Posta reported on March 20. The students also played the role of fighting soldiers and some of them performed being killed in the play.
In a particularly disturbing detail, pictures of the children were placed on mock-up coffins covered in Turkish flags, like in regular funeral ceremonies carried out in Turkey for killed members of the security forces.
Speaking after the photos caused an uproar, experts said being introduced to the concepts of war and death may create trauma for such young children.
“We tell parents to not even buy toy guns. How did the teacher allow this to happen,” one told daily Posta.