Mixed emotions for Turkish-Australians on Anzac Day

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Anzac Day proves to the world that peace is possible following bitter conflict, the Turkish consul general in Sydney says.

Melih Karalar argues the battle in Gallipoli helped shape both the Australian and Turkish nations and should be seen up as an example of what’s possible in the wake of war.

“Today our countries – bitter enemies of the past – share the pride of setting an example on how to forge a unique friendship out of a painful war,” Mr Karalar told AAP.

“The intensity of the battle not only strengthened their resolve and their quest for national identity for both sides but also brought about the most humane side of these young people.

“Both sides showed remarkable heroism, gallantry and mutual respect.”

Anzac Day is a cause for celebration as well as commemoration for Turkish Australians.

The modern Turkish nation was built partly on the back of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s success as a commander in World War I.

Ataturk went on to become the republic’s first president in 1923.

Dr Murat Yurtbilir, from the ANU Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, says Gallipoli is significant to ordinary Turkish people who affiliate it with the war of independence.

“In their mindset, it is a continuation, because Mustafa Kemel and all of the other Pashas were there,” he told AAP.

Ataturk used his success in Gallipoli to boost his profile during the subsequent national resistance campaign that led to the birth of the secular state, the academic noted.

That secularism is now being challenged under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who’s an Islamic conservative.

“I am in one way pessimistic seeing the population is becoming more and more conservative in Turkey compared to my childhood years,” Dr Yurtbilir said.

“But also I am optimistic because after 15 years of rule by this pro-Islamist party still the state is secular.

“It is because, I believe, Turkish people favour the secular system.”

More than 100 years on from the battle of Gallipoli the president of the Auburn RSL Turkish chapter, Mehmet Evin, says Anzac Day evokes mixed emotions.

“For us, it’s mainly a day of reflection, commemoration and celebration,” he told AAP.

“The celebration is of the friendship born out of battlefields.”

Mr Evin says he’s honoured to be laying a wreath at the dawn service in Martin Place on Tuesday.

A group of 50 to 100 Turkish descendants will march up to Hyde Park where they will also pay tribute to the fallen Turkish soldiers at the Ataturk monument.

“Hairs all over our body stand up when the crowds that are lined up along the march route clap and chant,” he said.

“It’s very humbling to see that support and love that’s reciprocated in … our respect to the Anzacs and our loyalty to this country.”

 

 

Source: AAP

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