ZONGULDAK – Doğan News Agency
A statue depicting a five-year-old girl, modeled in memory of Ayten Alper who was photographed in 1931 handing flowers to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, has been attacked by unidentified assailants in the Black Sea
province of Zonguldak.
The suspects broke off the statue’s arms and flowers on Aug. 20.
Alper became known in 1931 when she was only five year old after welcoming Atatürk
on the Zonguldak pier following his step on the land and telling him, “Welcome, my veteran father.”
Last year, the Zonguldak Municipality unveiled a 1.20-meter high bronze statue made in memory of Alper, who is currently 91 years old, next to the Liman Avenue, where Atatürk
had first landed on in Zonguldak on Aug. 26, 1931. The statue was opened to public view last year on Aug. 26, 2016, marking the 85th anniversary of Atatürk’s arrival in the city.
Fikret Zaman, a provincial council member from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), slammed the attack on the statue as “ugly.”
“It is very ugly behavior to break off and throw the flower from the hands of a child, who gave it Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
when he first set foot in Zonguldak. To see the statue in this way breaks my heart. If they actually understood what this statue is about, they wouldn’t even lay a finger on it; in fact they would come every day to clean it,” Zaman said.
Zonguldak Deputy Mayor Cevat Bulut, also from the CHP, condemned the incident and vowed to restore the statue to its original state.
Police are investigating the area of the attack and have appealed to locals in the area for information. They have also gathered security camera footage of shops on the Liman Avenue in order to identify the suspects.