Turkey to restore Turkish war cemeteries, memorials around the world
The Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Turkish Cooperation and Development Administration (TİKA) are planning to implement a joint project to restore Turkish war cemeteries and war memorials around the world.
A total of YTL 1 million has been allocated for the restoration of 84 Turkish war cemeteries and memorials located in some 30 countries.
As all cemeteries and memorials other than those in Japan, South Korea, Hungary, the UK, and Romania are in poor condition, the Defense Ministry is planning to initially restore 48 badly damaged Turkish cemeteries and memorials after the Foreign Ministry secures permission for the work. The Culture and Tourism Ministry will organize the renovation of tombs, cupolas and memorials by TİKA, along with support from the private sector and nongovernmental organizations.
According to a survey conducted by the Defense Ministry, there are 108,827 Turkish soldiers buried in 305 war cemeteries and memorials in Turkey, including martyrs who families were issued certificates by the Defense Ministry and martyrs whose burial locations are known. There are 5,409 Turkish soldiers interred in the 84 overseas cemeteries: 2,290 land forces soldiers, 1,950 air forces soldiers and 3,258 gendarmerie soldiers.
The number of Turkish casualties is not limited to these figures, however. In the battle of Gallipoli alone, 57,263 Turkish soldiers died and more than 190,000 were captured or lost. The total known loss of life on the Turkish side amounted to 250,000, among them local and foreign volunteers, along with similar numbers (nearly 180,000) of ANZAC soldiers. After Gallipoli, Turkey's second most costly loss in terms of human life was in the Sarıkamış War against Russia, in which 90,000 Turkish soldiers died, mostly due to cold. In the Korean War, Turkey's casualties were 741 while the Chinese captured 234 Turkish soldiers and 175 soldiers were missing, bringing Turkey's total loss to 1,100 soldiers.
The chairman of the Turkish War Veterans Association, Col. Feridun Çelenk, applauds the project for restoration of Turkish war cemeteries and memorials. "Here in Turkey, we sell land to foreigners, and we are allowed to enter it. The war cemeteries and memorials for our soldiers who were martyred for the cause of other countries are in ruins. Except for a few places, the fields in which Turkish soldiers were buried are in bad shape. The government should tackle this issue, and it should be given importance. We will be very grateful if this is done, and I heartily support the project."
War cemeteries and memorials are ubiquitous
After the Gallipoli and Sarıkamış wars, Turkey has suffered its greatest loss in its fight against terrorism inflicted by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Although the clashes, which have lasted for 21 years, seemed to have lessened after terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan was caught, 33,000 people have died in the conflict. The security officers who were killed by terrorists were buried in newly established cemeteries and memorials in Turkey's 81 provinces. The number of soldiers and police officers who were killed in terror acts amounted to 5,853, with 11,946 security officers injured in the clashes. A total of 5,405 civilians have been killed by the PKK.
The 108,827 identified martyrs buried in Turkey by province
Adana: 1,781, Adıyaman: 193, Afyon: 3,273, Ağrı: 35 Aksaray: 604, Amasya: 751, Ankara: 4,219, Antalya: 2,132, Ardahan: 31, Artvin: 211, Aydın: 2,638, Balıkesir: 4,043, Bartın: 798, Batman: 8, Bilecik: 1,585, Bayburt: 249, Bingöl: 106, Bitlis: 282, Bolu: 3,206, Burdur: 1,023, Bursa: 6,121, Çanakkale: 2,210, Çankırı: 1,930, Çorum: 3,238, Denizli: 3,625, Diyarbakır: 497, Edirne: 1,822, Elazığ: 718, Erzincan: 702, Erzurum: 910, Eskişehir: 1,615, Gaziantep: 1,626, Giresun: 1076, Gümüşhane: 329, Hakkari: 21, Hatay: 585, Isparta: 1,516, İçel: 2,272, İstanbul: 3,177, İzmir: 2,805, Kahramanmaraş: 784, Karaman: 895, Kars: 41, Kastamonu: 5,160, Kayseri: 2,127, Kırıkkale: 505, Kırklareli: 693, Kırşehir: 1,074, Kocaeli: 1,377, Konya: 4,787, Kütahya: 2,488, Malatya: 643, Manisa: 2,200, Mardin: 182, Muğla: 1,363, Muş: 105, Nevşehir: 1,069, Niğde: 1,072 Ordu: 1,233, Rize: 383, Sakarya: 1,465, Samsun: 1,243, Siirt: 153, Sinop: 2,438, Sivas: 1,575, Şanlıurfa: 710, Şırnak: 8, Tekirdağ: 980, Tokat: 1,224, Trabzon: 1,230, Tunceli: 77, Uşak: 1,093, Van: 343, Yozgat: 2,053, and Zonguldak: 2,091
Turkish war cemeteries and memorials abroad
Berlin War Cemetery and Memorial (Germany): This was first established upon Prussian king's allocation of a burial place for Giritli Ali Aziz Efendi and Ambassador Mehmet Esad Efendi in 1797. Ottoman Turkish officers who were brought to Berlin for treatment but who died here during World War I were buried in this cemetery. Talat Pasha, who was killed by Armenians in Berlin, was buried here until his remains were moved to Turkey in 1943.
Baghdad Cemetery and Memorial (Iraq): In this cemetery was buried Young Osman, also known as Sultan Osman II, about whose heroism the Ottomans composed songs, along with 187 Turkish soldiers who died in Baghdad between 1914 and 1917. This cemetery was badly damaged during the US war in Iraq.
Krakow Turkish Cemetery (Poland): This cemetery contains the graves of the soldiers, most of whom were Turkish, who fought on the Galicia front during the first and second world wars. Muslims of various ethnic origins were buried here.
Cairo Turkish Cemetery (Egypt): Some 4,500 Ottoman soldiers who died on the Palestinian front from 1915-18 are buried here. This cemetery has been repeatedly vandalized and damaged but was renovated in 1998.
Wakayama Ertuğrul Cemetery (Japan): This cemetery was established after the Ertuğrul frigate tragedy in which 550 mariners died near Kushimoto, Japan, on Sept. 15, 1890. It was renovated in 1937 upon the initiative of Turkish Ambassador to Japan Husret Gerede. The cemetery also contains a museum. It is the best-kept of all Turkish cemeteries.
Damascus Cemetery (Syria): The first martyrs of the Turkish air forces, pilot Fethi Bey and Sadık Bey, were buried here when they died on Feb. 27, 1914. It is located next to the Tomb of Selahaddin Eyyubi in the Umayyad Mosque. When pilot Nuri Bey and İsmail Hakkı Bey, taking off from Yafa two weeks later, died in a similar accident, this cemetery was turned into Damascus Air Cemetery.
Süleyman Shah Tomb (Syria): Süleyman Shah, the grandfather of Sultan Osman, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, was buried in front of Ceber Castle on June 5, 1078. This was the first patch of land on which, under a special article of the Ankara Treaty, the Turkish flag is raised and Turkish soldiers are interred. It was relocated when it became clear that it would be submerged by Tashin Dam. It is currently protected by a squad of Turkish soldiers.
Budapest Cemetery (Hungary): This cemetery contains the graves of 480 Turkish soldiers who died on the Galicia front between 1916 and 1917. It is maintained by the Hungarian government and is not in need of restoration.
Seul Pusan Cemetery (South Korea): It was built in 1951 on an area of 14.4 hectares. A total of 426 Turkish soldiers were initially buried here, but today it is the final resting place of 2,300 soldiers. Each gravestone bears the name and nationality of the soldier buried there. Turkish casualties in the Korean war totaled 1,100 soldiers. According to official data, 741 soldiers were killed while 234 soldiers were captured and 175 were missing. A large part of the captured and disappeared soldiers were taken to and killed in Burma. After the Turkish cemetery in Japan, it is the second best-kept Turkish cemetery abroad.
Lebanon, Zahle Turkish Cemetery: It was built for the Ottoman soldiers who died on the Palestinian front during World War I. Some 20,000 Turkish soldiers were reportedly buried in this cemetery. It is in need of urgent repair as it is in ruins.
Thayet Myo Turkish Cemetery (Burma): Most of the 12,000 Turkish soldiers who were captured by British troops during World War I and taken to Burma, which was then a British colony, died here. Some 1,500 Turkish soldiers who died under adverse labor and prison conditions or due to disease were buried here. The fate of the remaining soldiers is not known. It is one of the most neglected Turkish cemeteries abroad. Although the Office of the Chief of General Staff wanted to restore it in 2002, the Myanmar government refused permission.
Crimean Sevastopol Cemetery (Ukraine): It was built for more than 50 Ottoman soldiers who died in Sevastopol in the Crimean War in 1853-1856. There are many other Turkish cemeteries in Ukraine, all of which are in miserable condition.
Salt Turkish Cemetery (Jordan): Three hundred Turkish soldiers who were killed by the British on March 24 and 26, 1918 are buried here. It needs repair. During his last visit to Jordan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged the overhauling of this cemetery.
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