Turkish World War I commemoration abused for militarist propaganda


This music video about Australia and the first world war is called The Pogues – The band played Waltzing Matilda.

The lyrics are:

When I was a young man I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murray’s green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over

Then in nineteen fifteen my country said Son
It’s time to stop rambling ’cause there’s work to be done
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we sailed away from the quay
And amidst all the tears and the shouts and the cheers
We sailed off to Gallipoli

How well I remember that terrible day
How the blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter

Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well
He chased us with bullets, he rained us with shells
And in five minutes flat he’d blown us all to hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia

But the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again

Now those that were left, well we tried to survive
In a mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
But around me the corpses piled higher

Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over tit
And when I woke up in my hospital bed
And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead
Never knew there were worse things than dying

For no more I’ll go waltzing Matilda
All around the green bush far and near
For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs two legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me

So they collected the cripples, the wounded, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla

And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where my legs used to be
And thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
Then turned all their faces away

And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
And I watch my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving old dreams of past glory

And the old men march slowly, all bent, stiff and sore
The forgotten heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, “What are they marching for?”
And I ask myself the same question

And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men answer to the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me
And their ghosts may be heard as you pass the Billabong
Who’ll come-a-waltzing Matilda with me?

By Halil Celi in Turkey:

Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign: Turkish elite commemorates imperialist bloodbath

25 March 2015

Turkey marked the 100th anniversary of the naval battle at Çanakkale last week.

During the 1915 battle, also known as the Gallipoli Campaign or the Dardanelles Campaign, Ottoman artillery held off British and French warships from taking the capital Constantinople (later renamed Istanbul). This would have given the Allied powers control of the Bosphorus and entry into the Black Sea, securing access to Russia against Germany.

The main ceremony was held in Çanakkale, attended by Turkish politicians, including Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and military and civil officials from Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Official ceremonies were held in other cities, including Istanbul, Ankara and Diyarbakir, attended by Turkish military officers, representatives of the political parties and civil society organisations. The Religious Affairs Directorate organised prayers across Turkey for those who died, who were described as martyrs.

As well as those killed in battle, thousands died from infection, enteric fever, dysentery, diarrhea and various fly-borne diseases. Others were burnt to death in out-of-control scrub fires. Some drowned in sewage, and others died from poor food and disease. While the exact number of casualties in the Gallipoli Campaign, which lasted about 10 months, is not known, one estimate puts the number of casualties on the Ottoman side at 250,000, with a similar number from the Allied forces. It was one of the most horrific slaughters of World War I.

In a Twitter post on March 18, Richard Moore, the British ambassador to Turkey, “congratulated the people of Turkey for the victory.”

In an attempt to cover up and sanctify the imperialist slaughter, he wrote, “Both the parties bravely fought during the war and Turks deserved the victory, Çanakkale is impassable!”

This was no different from the official propaganda, launched by the Turkish media weeks ago, that branded the imperialist slaughter of the Gallipoli Campaign as the beginning of the Turkish people’s struggle for independence.

Speaking during the ceremony at Çanakkale, Prime Minister Davutoğlu blessed the martyrs and said, “Turkish soldiers from different origins, including Kurdish, Bosnian and Circassian, started and won Turkey’s war of independence in unity and brotherhood.”

He used the centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign to make broader and more topical political points, saying threateningly, “Turkey is not a country that would succumb to either internal or external threats. It has the ability to immediately respond to any kind of treachery.”

Davutoğlu’s words followed the Prime Ministry’s Directorate General of Press and Information accreditation ban on media outlets critical of the government, including the Cihan news agency, one of the largest news agencies in Turkey, and the Zaman daily.

The centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign gave the Turkish government and the media a welcome opportunity to deflect the mounting anger of working people away from the burning social and economic problems at home, as well as to legitimise Turkey’s embroilment in the imperialist interventions and civil wars in the Middle East, in North Africa and potentially—as a NATO ally—in Ukraine.

As part of this broader campaign to distract working people’s attention away from deteriorating living conditions and prepare Turkish public opinion for impending military interventions in Iraq and Syria, all the bourgeois parties and media have joined in the official campaign of rewriting the history. There have been a series of activities, including conferences, lectures, films, and sporting and cultural events, with millions of dollars of government funding.

Ankara has used its best endeavours to rewrite the history of the Gallipoli Campaign to glorify the Turkish nationalist officers who years later waged the War of Independence against Britain and Greece, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, later known as Atatürk, founder and president of the Turkish republic. Ataturk first rose to prominence as a commander during the battle at Gallipoli.

Thus, the Turkish ruling elite has promoted the glorification of the imperialist bloodbath of Gallipoli as “the defence of the motherland.”

The pretence that the position of the Ottoman Empire in the Gallipoli Campaign was “the defence of the motherland” is bogus. The Gallipoli Campaign of March 1915-January 1916 was not a part of the Turkish national liberation war of 1919-1922. It was a tragic episode in the imperialist slaughter of World War I for raw materials, markets and geostrategic interests that resulted in the deaths of millions, in which the Ottoman Empire, albeit not itself an imperialist power, actively participated on the side of the Central Powers.

By the eve of World War I, the Ottoman Empire, described by Tsar Nicholas I as the “sick man of Europe,” had been weakened by economic crisis and military defeats by the imperialist powers, rival dynasties and national liberation movements. It had become a semi-colony of German imperialism, which enthusiastically supported the Young Turks’ regime led by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), since 1908.

Germany provided significant financial aid and investment, training and re-equipping its army. In December 1913, Germany sent a military mission to Istanbul, headed by General Otto Liman von Sanders, who would serve as adviser and military commander for the Ottoman Empire during the war, and organise and lead the defence of the Dardanelles.

On July 30, 1914, only two days after the start of war in Europe, the CUP decided to accept Germany’s offer of a “secret alliance” against Russia. On October 27, the alliance was put into practice when two German warships set sail for the Black Sea and bombarded the Russian navy in Odessa. Three days later, the Ottoman Empire, with a view to recovering territories it had lost in previous wars in the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East, officially entered the war on the side of the Central Powers led by Germany.

In early 1915, Tsarist Russia, then in combat with Ottoman forces and the German military in the Caucasus, appealed to Britain for relief. With the Western Front deadlocked, the British government decided to mount a naval expedition to bombard and take the Gallipoli Peninsula on the western shore of the Dardanelles, the narrow and strategic sea-lane near Istanbul separating the Aegean and Black Seas. The aim was to capture Constantinople, knocking Turkey out of the war, and link up with its tsarist ally.

The first attack on the Dardanelles began February 19, 1915, when a strong Anglo-French task force began the bombardment of Ottoman artillery along the coast, launching their main attack on March 18, 1915. The slaughter reached its peak as imperialist troops landed on April 25, after the failure of the naval attacks, commemorated by Australians and New Zealanders every year as “Anzac Day.”

In the following months, little progress was made and the Ottoman army took advantage of a British hiatus in the campaign to bring as many troops as possible onto the Peninsula. In a speech in April 1915, Atatürk told his soldiers in the 57th regiment, “I do not order you to fight, I order you to die. In the time which passes until we die, other troops and commanders can come forward and take our places.”

Few of the regiment survived the war.

The standstill was to lead to a political crisis in London in which the Liberal government was replaced by a coalition.

The deadlock in Dardanelles dragged on into the summer amid disease-ridden conditions. Nevertheless, the British government continued its attacks. It decided to end the campaign only after the unsuccessful landing of early August, finally evacuating the troops in January 1916.

In November 13, 1918, almost three years later and after the deaths of hundreds of thousands of soldiers from both sides, the Allied Forces would occupy Constantinople in accordance with the Armistice of Mudros that ended Ottoman participation in the First World War, as they hoped, a prelude to the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey itself.

The Gallipoli Campaign was one of the most tragic battles of the imperialist slaughter, a war worthy not of glorification but of condemnation. It should act as a spur to opposition in Turkey and internationally to the ongoing eruption of imperialist militarism and war-mongering.

Erdoğan plan for super-presidency puts Turkey’s democracy at stake. The Turkish president’s attempted power-grab is slated from within his own party as divisions between the country’s executive and legislature deepen: here.

Libya’s oil war kills civilians


This video says about itself:

Libya’s PM Says Turkey Supplying Weapons to Rival Tripoli Group

27 February 2015

Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said his government would stop dealing with Turkey as it was sending weapons to a rival group in Tripoli, ramping up his rhetoric against Ankara. Two administrations, one in the capital and Thinni’s in the east, have been vying for power since an armed group called Libya Dawn seized Tripoli in July and reinstated lawmakers from a previous assembly, four years after Muammar Gaddafi’s ousting.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Libya: Eight killed in air strike by Tobruk government

Tuesday 24th March 2015

EIGHT civilians were killed in an air strike near Tripoli yesterday in an attack claimed by Libya’s Tobruk-based government.

Warplanes belonging to the internationally recognised government attacked Tarhouna, a town near the capital.

The new strike cast doubt over hopes expressed by the United Nations on Sunday that peace talks wouldn’t fall apart.

The talks had been extended for two days yesterday, but prospects for agreement were shaky following the continuing attacks.

Weeks of talks in Morocco had nearly collapsed after forces allied to the Tobruk parliament attacked the capital on Sunday.

“For the moment, no-one is leaving. We have had a difficult moment, I’m sure you are aware,” said UN envoy Bernardino Leon at the time.

Mr Leon admitted that there were factions on both sides pushing for a military solution but insisted most were committed to dialogue.

But yesterday’s attacks left hopes of progress stranded.

”Anti-ISIS’ government spy brings British teenage girls to ISIS’


This video, recorded in Britain, says about itself:

‘Turkey supporting ISIS & fighting against Kurds’

20 October 2014

Michelle Allison, Women’s Representative of the Kurdish National Congress, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about the role of Turkey and the Kurds in the fight against ISIS.

She says that whilst NATO expects Turkey to join in the war against ISIS, they are reluctant to do so, and are attacking Kurds instead. With flags of Abdullah Öcalan, the founder of the PKK, flying in demonstrations in Parliament Square, she explains there is a fight for equal rights for Kurds in Turkey, but any time they demand more rights, the response is ‘brutality’.

Turkey tries to demonise them, but she points to Kobanê, where they are ‘watching the massacre happening’ and hopes this could lead to a change from the West regarding Turkey’s attitude towards them. She says Turkey is ‘supporting ISIS’, with the Prime Minister unable to even say they were a terrorist organisation for a long time.

Most of the Kurdish people are after a secular, democratic establishment in the region, but all Turkey wants is to continue showing them to the world as the enemy. And she says that Kurds fighting ISIS are helping all the communities in Syria, showing the truth behind the two-sided policy in Turkey.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Coalition spy chaperoned UK schoolgirls to ISIS in Syria

THE Turkish authorities have captured a person working for the intelligence agency of a coalition country in connection with the journey of three teenaged British girls to Syria, supposedly to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday 12 March.

The three friends, two aged 15 and the other 16, left their East London homes last month and travelled to Gatwick Airport, where they caught a Turkish Airlines (THY) flight to Istanbul without telling their families.

They are believed to have crossed into Syria to join ISIS.

In televised remarks, Cavusoglu said the person who had been captured had helped the three girls. ‘And do you know who that person turned out to be? They turned out to be a person working for the intelligence agency of a coalition country’ he told the A Haber station.

Cavusoglu did not say which country the person came from but added it was not the US or a European Union member. In addition to the US and EU countries, the anti-ISIS coalition also includes Arab partners such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as well as countries like Australia and Canada.

Security sources told the Hurriyet Daily News on March 12 that the suspect detained was a Syrian national working for Canadian intelligence, without elaborating.

The Canadian Embassy in Ankara declined to comment on the issue.

Officials said the suspect was still in custody and the related country was informed about the situation.

Cavusoglu did not give details about the suspect in the interview, but said the country was neither an EU member nor the United States, adding that he had briefed British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond about the case. Hammond responded by saying ‘just as usual’ when he received the information, Cavusoglu said.

The three teenage girls from London feared to have run off to join ISIS are believed to have crossed into Syria from Turkey, British police said.

Turkey, which has been accused by its Western allies of failing to do enough to stop jihadists crossing into Syria from its territory, had earlier accused Britain of failing to provide information about the girls sooner.

Turkish author warns against British nationalism


This video says about itself:

Elif Shafak: The politics of fiction

19 July 2010

Listening to stories widens the imagination; telling them lets us leap over cultural walls, embrace different experiences, feel what others feel. Elif Shafak builds on this simple idea to argue that fiction can overcome identity politics.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism

“What worries me is that we haven’t learnt anything from history”

Nick Clark

Thursday 05 March 2015

Turkey’s best-selling woman writer has warned against the rise of nationalism in Britain, saying that London’s “precious” multicultural scene was one of the main reasons she moved to the capital four years ago.

Elif Shafak spoke out against the rise of Ukip in Britain after witnessing the “bruising” effect of nationalism on the culture of her home country.

She told a packed audience at The Independent Bath Literature Festival that she was “very worried” about the rise of nationalism in the UK and added that she would like to share a platform with Nigel Farage to debate with him.

“Some of my English friends in the literary world say: ‘Don’t take it seriously’. But I do take it seriously,” the novelist said. “One of the precious things that Turkey has lost is cosmopolitanism. Many minorities have left, or had to leave, and we have lost a lot.”

Politicians across Europe belittling multiculturalism and targeting minorities “make me very sad”, she said. “What worries me is that we haven’t learnt anything from history. Not a long time ago, I’m talking about 70 years.”

The desire for uniformity and people who look the same was disturbing, she added. “The illusion that similarity will bring safety worries me very much. It’s nothing more than an illusion.

“There are few cities in the world now where there is true diversity. This is precious; philosophy, creativity and true democracy always thrive on diversity. In places where it’s not appreciated, democracy is bruised badly. This is what has happened in Turkey.”

Shafak, author of 13 works, said: “I am very fond of London; intellectually I find it very inspiring. The multicultural aspect … is very precious.” She is the best-read female novelist in Turkey, and her work has been translated into more than 40 languages.

Shafak was born in Strasbourg and raised in Ankara, before moving to London in 2010 with her children.

“We won’t learn anything from people who look and speak exactly like us,” she insisted. “Others will challenge us and teach us and we can teach them in return.”

The writer has won numerous literary awards, including France’s prestigious Ordre des Arts et des Letters, and has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

She has long spoken out over the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doing “nothing to further gender issues and equality. We have a big problem of gender violence”. This, she said, had risen 1,400 per cent over the past decade. The issue was highlighted last month after demonstrations broke out across the country following the rape and murder of student Ozgecan Aslan.

Shafak said she did not “have the luxury” of being apolitical as a writer, and criticised Turkey, saying freedom of speech was “going backwards”.

“Turkey is a very patriarchal, sexist and homophobic society,” she said. “The literary world is no different. When you are a woman writer you are treated differently.”

Turkish women demonstrate against rape, murder


This video from Turkey says about itself:

14 February 2015

Women in Turkey have raised reactions to the savage murder of Özgecan Aslan.

On Feb 11th, Ozgecan Aslan (20) university student, caught a bus from Adana to Mersin as was her routine from school to home. As the last passenger gets off the bus, she’s left alone with the driver, his father and his friend. Two days later, three suspects were captured and Özgecan’s body was found. Initial autopsy report shows young woman was stabbed to death after she was raped, and then her body was burnt.

Aktivist Kamera 14.02.2015 Kadıköy / İstanbul

Twenty-year-old Özgecan Aslan was a psychology student at Çağ University in Mersin. DHA Photo

From Doğan News Agency in Turkey:

20-year-old Turkish woman brutally murdered, body burned

The burned body of a 20-year-old female student who had been missing for two days was discovered Feb. 13 in a riverbed in the Tarsus district of the southern province of Mersin.

Three suspects have been detained for stabbing Özgecan Aslan to death and later burning her remains.

The family of Aslan, who was a psychology student at Çağ University, had filed a missing report with the police on Feb. 11 after failing to contact her. As the search for the missing girl continued, gendarmerie forces stopped a suspicious minibus on Feb. 12, discovering blood stains and a hat in the minibus.

The driver of the vehicle, 26-year-old S.A., his 50-year-old father, N.A., and 20-year-old F.G. were detained when the victim’s father recognized the hat and said it belonged to his daughter.

During the interrogation, N.A. and F.G. admitted to the crime. According to the suspects’ testimonies, after all other passengers disembarked from the minibus, S.A. exited the scheduled route in spite of Aslan’s protestations and drove to a secluded spot.

When he attempted to rape the woman, she fought back and used pepper spray against her attacker. S.A. then stabbed Aslan several times and hit her with an iron pipe, killing her.

He also allegedly cut off Aslan’s fingers in an effort to ensure that no DNA match would be made with the scratches the woman made on his face during the struggle.

After the murder, S.A. went back home with the body and asked for his father and friend’s help in disposing of the remains. The three then tried to burn Aslan’s body to eliminate any evidence.

The remains of a woman were found Feb. 13 at a location indicated by the suspects. One of Aslan’s close friends, who was with her on the day she went missing, failed to identify the severely damaged body, but she said the clothes on the body matched what Aslan wore the day she disappeared.

“We were together at the school until noon, then we went shopping, ate something and got on a minibus to go home,” the witness said. “I got off near my home and she stayed on the minibus to go home. I later learned that she did not go home and was missing.”

The gendarmerie and the police have launched an investigation to find out the details and the reasons for the murder.

February/14/2015

Women carry the coffin of Özgecan Aslan, who was killed during a rape attempt

From Doğan News Agency in Turkey:

Women defy imam in murdered woman’s funeral, carry the coffin

Thousands bid farewell on Feb. 14 to Özgecan Aslan, a 20-year-old woman who was murdered during a rape attempt, in a funeral ceremony held in her hometown Mersin.

Although the imam requested women to step back during the ceremony, hundreds of women attended the funeral prayer on the front lines, while they also carried he coffin of Aslan before and after the prayer. …

Songül Aslan, mother of Özgecan, was devastated. …

“Özgecan had a wonderful heart, she would work hard, help everyone. I cannot accept that she was massacred when she took a minibus to come home. Is my daughter’s only mistake is to get on a minibus to come home?” she added. …

Protests have been held across the country to protest the brutal murder, with the demonstrators carrying photographs of Aslan and other female victims of violence.

February/14/2015

See also here.

From Revolution News:

Turkey: Outrage over Horrific Rape and Murder of Student Ozgecan Aslan

02/14/2015

On Feb 11th, Ozgecan Aslan, a 20-year-old university student, caught a bus from Adana to Mersin as was her routine from school to home. As the last passenger gets off the bus, she’s left alone with the driver, his father and his friend. Two days later, three suspects were captured and Özgecan’s body was found. Initial autopsy report shows young woman was stabbed to death after she was raped, and then her body was burnt.

Women all over Turkey are organizing protests today, claiming this is not “just another criminal incident”, but a result of a systematic misogynist state policy. Recent declarations by government officials against women’s employment, abortion, and similar statements to restrict women’s rights including even “when to go out and what to wear” have been responded to with public outrage. Also, perpetrators of rape and murder of women get the minimum sentence due to “incitement” or “consent” by the victim or “no psychological damage observed” on the victim. The extent of femicide in Turkey has once again been revealed by the murder of Ozgecan Aslan, while according to official figures murders of women have increased 1,400% during the period of AKP rule.

Turkish women demonstrate against the murder of Ozgecan Aslan

FIVE Turkish MPs were injured yesterday in a brawl that broke out in parliament. The fight started after opposition parties submitted motions to hamper the passage of a draconian new Bill restricting the right to protest: here.