mardi 11 novembre 2008

Turkey remembers Atatürk on 70th Anniversary of his death

Ceremonies were held across Turkey yesterday to commemorate Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, on the 70th anniversary of his death.

An official ceremony held at Anıtkabir, Atatürk's mausoleum, was attended by President Abdullah Gül and other officials. Gül laid a wreath of white and red carnations at Atatürk's tomb. At exactly 9:05 a.m., the time of Atatürk's death 70 years ago, flags flew at half-mast and car horns and sirens were sounded. The entire country observed a two-minute period of silence, after which the national anthem was played.

Signing the official Anıt-kabir memorial book at Misak-ı Milli (National Pact) Tower, President Gül wrote: "Great Atatürk, we commemorate you with respect on the 70th year of your death... We are determined to follow developments in the world, continue our process of democratization and leave a more prosperous and strong country to future generations. We present you our gratitude and love. May your soul rest in peace."

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivered a speech at a memorial ceremony organized by the Atatürk Supreme Council for Culture, Language and History. He stressed that Turkey has covered a significant distance on the path toward integration with the modern world. "Turkey has been elected to the UN Security Council and is taking determined steps towards EU membership. We have become a country which assumes an active role in the solution of regional and global problems and the elimination of rifts between civilizations," said Erdoğan.

Memorial events were held in such other countries as Greece, Hungary and Kosovo to remember Atatürk. In the meantime, on Sunday evening Turkish police discovered about 2 kilograms of explosives that had been left in a package under a platform in the eastern city of Hakkari, where speakers would address participants of a ceremony commemorating Atatürk. Bomb disposal experts defused the explosives, and police launched an investigation to find out who had planted the explosives.

Two individuals who disrupted ceremonies in Erzincan and İstanbul were taken out of parade areas by security forces. Nurettin Tanrıverdi in eastern Erzincan province started to shout as sirens were blown to mark the moment of Atatürk's death. "If we had followed Atatürk's path, Europe would be in need of us now. The governor tried to have me arrested three times," he screamed. Tanrıverdi was reported to be mentally challenged. Another person whose name was not released, similarly, started to yell toward the end of a memorial ceremony in İstanbul's Taksim Square. "I invite you all to Islam," he shouted.

Atatürk was born in 1881 in Thessalonica, in present-day Greece. While his wartime record in the Balkan Wars, World War I and the War of Independence is outstanding, he is chiefly remembered for founding the Turkish Republic and the modernizing reforms that he instituted.
Atatürk died at Dolmabahçe Palace, in İstanbul, on Nov. 10, 1938, finally succumbing to a liver disease from which he suffered. His body was first taken to a temporary resting place at the Ethnography Museum in Ankara on Nov. 21, 1938. When his mausoleum was completed, he was interred with a grand ceremony on Nov. 10, 1953.

11 November 2008, Tuesday

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