Turkey commemorates Çanakkale War martyrs
Turks, Australians and New Zealanders have paid tributes to their fallen troops of World War I (WWI) from their own homes due to the lockdown enforced to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Normally drawing crowds of thousands in Australia and New Zealand, this year’s Anzac Day ceremonies were only attended by officials, while citizens watched on television and many stood in their driveways at dawn to pay tribute.
Many Australians and New Zealanders also took to social media to pay tribute to their ancestors.
Anzac Day, observed annually on April 25, is a national day of remembrance for soldiers of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) who fought and died during the Battle of Çanakkale in WWI.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed an empty auditorium at the War Memorial in Canberra.
“This year, our Anzac Day traditions have been interrupted. But not for the first time. On Anzac Day 1919, there were no city marches or parades for the returning veterans, because Australians were battling the Spanish flu pandemic,” he said.
“This Anzac Day, it’s been passed to us. And so together, with faith in each other, and guided by the lives and examples of those who’ve gone before, we grasp that torch and we raise it high again lighting up the Anzac dawn. Lest we forget,” the prime minister said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posted a picture on Instagram of her standing alongside her father and partner outside Premier House in Wellington.
“Really moving to see all the images of Kiwis standing at dawn to commemorate Anzac Day this year,” she wrote on Instagram.
Many survivors and their descendants also travel to Turkey on Anzac Day to mark the sacrifices and friendship that has developed between the nations since World War I.
The 105th anniversary of the Battle of Çanakkale was commemorated in Turkey also in silence due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Participation in the ceremony held at the Martyrs’ Monument in Çanakkale’s Gallipoli Peninsula Historical Area was low due to the measures taken.
Civilian and military participants left wreaths at Atatürk Monument and fallen soldiers from both sides during the war were remembered with a minute of silence.
Attention was paid to the rules of social distance in the ceremony.
Turkey’s president on April 25 commemorated fallen soldiers of the battles on its 105th anniversary.
“Throughout our history, our aim has always been to maintain our independence and establish peace. Despite all the difficulties and troubles, we are determined to continue this struggle until we substitute peace, tranquility and human values to war, terror, violence,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a statement.
The Battle of Çanakkale took place in the northwestern Turkish province of Çanakkale’s Gelibolu (Gallipoli) district in 1915, and marked a turnaround in favor of the Turks against the Allied forces.
Tens of thousands of Turkish nationals and soldiers died, along with tens of thousands of Europeans, around 7,000-8,000 Australians and nearly 3,000 New Zealanders.