Veteran Turkish actor Kurtiz laid to rest amid burial place controversy

Veteran Turkish actor Kurtiz laid to rest amid burial place controversy

Veteran Turkish actor Kurtiz laid to rest amid burial place controversy

Many actors, friends and admirers carry the coffin of Tuncel Kurtiz during the actor’s funeral in Çamlıbel, Balıkesir. DHA photo

Ten thousands of mourners said their final farewell to Tuncel Kurtiz Sept.29, following controversy over the veteran actor’s desired burial place in an Alevi village.

Thousands of fans and many prominent figures of Turkish theater and cinema gathered at Kurtiz’s former house in the Çamlıbel village of the northwestern province of Balıkesir and carried his casket from there to the cemetery.

The actor was sent off on his eternal journey with the prayers of his friends and fans, with Beethoven playing in the background.

The actor’s final will stated that he actually wanted to be buried in a different cemetery in the neighboring Alevi village of Tahtakuşlar, but the village refused to honor this wish, stirring considerable public anger.

“This is a closed society,” said Hasan Bozkurt, the village headman of Tahtakuşlar. Bozkurt said there was no room left in the village cemetery for the body of the famous actor, a beloved figure who was famous for his roles in movies and TV series over many decades, as well as for his left-wing politics.

“If we give permission [for Kurtiz’s burial here], then we won’t be able to head out onto the street. We won’t be able to look anyone in the face in the square. This is a Turkmen village – people trusted us and elected us because we protect their rights,” Bozkurt said, stressing that he had consulted on the matter with village elders who he said did not view Kurtiz’s burial there as appropriate.

The decision sparked anger among Alevi organizations, with Hubyar Sultan Alevi Association head Ali Kenanoğlu saying a delegation had immediately been dispatched to Tahtakuşlar to convince he village to overturn its decision.

“The delegation is going to right this wrong,” Kenanoğlu said. “There can’t be anything like this in the Alevi faith. We are attempting to rectify this humiliating situation.”

Faced with the wait, however, Kurtiz’s family decided to bury him in Çamlıbel, regardless of whether the Alevi delegation is able to change Tahtakuşlar’s decision.

Kamil Saka, the mayor of Güre, the local municipality that encompasses the villages in question, said an appropriate final resting place had been found for the actor in Çamlıbel’s cemetery, located beside the Aegean Sea.

“It’s on the shore, quite close to the sea. We’ve prepared a place where [Kurtiz] will be able to hear the footsteps of those who pass by,” Saka said.