May 19 kicks off amid controversy

May 19 kicks off amid controversy

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
May 19 kicks off amid controversy

Istanbul’s Şişli Municipality hangs massive Turkish flags and Atatürk posters on buildings in the district prior to the May 19 celebrations. Hürriyet photo

Following the government’s controversial initiative to curb military presence in celebrations marking national holidays, authorities have denied a number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and opposition politicians permission to stage such ceremonies on the anniversary of May 19.

The Interior Ministry issued an official notice indicating that no one except the civilian authorities may lay wreaths in provinces of their districts within the scope of May 19 celebrations. Reports indicated the notice was issued in accordance with the regulations on the celebration of national holidays. Many NGOs upset by the new regulations, however, have announced that they will lay wreaths at Atatürk monuments in their provinces regardless.

Citing the new regulations, the Governor’s Office in the southwestern province of Isparta refused to grant permission for the provincial office of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to hold a wreath-laying ceremony at an Atatürk monument in celebration of May 19.

Representatives of a dozen NGOs came together in the Black Sea province of Samsun to protest against the new regulations, which stipulate that only the Youth and Sports Provincial Directorates and athletes may lay wreaths on Atatürk monuments. The protestors laid wreaths on Samsun’s Atatürk monument one day before the actual holiday.

İsmail Koncuk, the head of the Turkish Public Workers’ Labor Union (Kamu-Sen), said the holiday would now be celebrated with a modest program and expressed his sorrow over the new regulations.
The celebrations organized by the Istanbul Governor’s Office will begin with a ceremony in Taksim Square, according to reports.

According to a recent regulation issued by the Cabinet, the celebration of The Day of Youth and Remembrance of Atatürk on May 19 are no longer to include official ceremonies, parades or lavish shows at stadiums.