A monument honouring the Anzacs in Gallipoli has reportedly been destroyed by the Turkish government.
Fairfax reports the Gallipoli monument at Anzac Cove, which was introduced in 1985, has had its text removed, which honoured the Anzacs.
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 reportedly part of a refurbishment for the memorial.
But the Guardian reports there are growing concerns in both countries that the words uttered by Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk will be replaced by text reflecting the country’s growing Islamist interpretation by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
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.”
But 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.