The Turkish government has corrected reports it destroyed a monument at Anzac Cove in a further push toward Islamism and said "history is not being destroyed or rewritten".
Various news outlets reported the monument honouring the Anzacs in Gallipoli, constructed in 1985, had been destroyed by the Turkish government and its inscription would be replaced.
Images of the monument posted to social media appear to show it riddled with scars, defacing Mustafa Kemal Atatürk sombre words of comfort to grieving Australian and Turkish families after the failed campaign.
Originally, the text read, “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace.”
The removal of the text is part of a refurbishment for the memorial.
But the Guardian reported the removal signalled growing concerns the words uttered by Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk were to be replaced by text reflecting the country’s growing Islamist interpretation by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
This was not true, according to the c that said in a statement the "monument at Ariburnu is not being destroyed or altered".
"There has been misunderstanding and rumours in some media in some media outlets regarding the Turkish monument at Ariburnu," the statement said.
"The stonework ahs been removed due to deterioration that has occurred over the years, and will be restored and replaced," it read, adding that a total of 15 monuments along the peninsula were undergoing similar revamps
"With regards to the monuments, history is not being destroyed or rewritten, and Ataturk's words will not be lost.
"The wording will be the same as in the past," it said.
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan told the Guardian the department had been advised by the Turkish government of refurbishment work on the Gallipoli peninsula.
“No Australian memorials or cemeteries are affected by this work,” he said.
“The Australian government is grateful for the work of the Turkish government in ensuring the peninsula remains in good condition and is cared for in perpetuity.”
However, University of New South Wales Canberra history professor Peter Stanley said the new text could reflect a new interpretation of the conflict on Turkey’s shores in World War I.
“It’s not always apparent to Australian visitors to Gallipoli, who tend to focus on the Anzac story, but another, Turkish, battle for Gallipoli has been going on for the past decade at least, between the formerly universally accepted Atatürk interpretation and the increasingly strong Islamist view,” he said.
“Because the Erdoğan government is in power, Islamists are now in the ascendant – as the new Gaba Tepe interpretative centre [at Gallipoli] shows. It depicts Turkey’s 86,000 Gallipoli dead as ‘martyrs’, dying in a fight against Christian invaders.”
The destruction of the monument was first noticed by a tour guide, who posted a picture on social media.