Turkish officials have denied an unverified Guardian report that they removed an inscription on a Gallipoli monument in a politically-motivated effort to reflect a more Islamist narrative of the World War I battle.
The Ataturk monument is a tribute to Anzac (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) soldiers who died in Gallipoli during the First World War, and features the words of Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
The Guardian reported sources in Australia and Turkey believe the restorations are politically motivated and will result in the words being changed to frame Gallipoli as a fight between jihadists and invading crusaders. Australian and New Zealand media have picked the story up.
Turkey’s Directorate of the Gallipoli Historic Site released a statement to quash the accusations Sunday.
“The monument at Ariburnu is not being destroyed or altered,” the statement read. “The stonework has been removed due to deterioration that has occurred over the years, and will be restored and replaced.”
The statement also says that 15 other monuments on the peninsula are being restored as part of a program. “History is not being destroyed of rewritten, and Ataturk’s words will not be lost,” the statement says. “The wording will be the same as in the past.”
A man responded to the Directorate’s post by sharing a selfie of himself beside the monument where work was being done.
“I visited the site quite recently, and saw some of the ongoing works,” he said. “Also saw the ridiculous #falsenews on social media, so annoying!”