Çanakkale Photographic Exhibition Speech at New Zealand National Archives

Damla Yeşim Say 07.09.2015
Honourable Ministers, Members of Parliament
Dear Friends,
Tena Koutou, Tena Koutou, Tena Koutou Katoa
Greetings to you all

I want to thank you all for joining us today. We gathered here today at a very special venue for a very special opening ceremony of the photographic exhibition titled “Çanakkale-Road to Peace out of War”. I wish to express my gratitude to Honourable Peter Dunne, Minister of Interior who graciously agreed to join me in launching this exhibition.

I could not think of a better suited venue for this event. Let me take this opportunity to thank all the staff of the Archives who helped us organize this exhibition as well as my own staff at the Embassy for their tremendous and resourceful endeavours for successfully putting this together.

Let me also acknowledge Honourable Nicky Wagner, Minister of Customs and Disability Issues, Her Warship the Mayor of Wellington, Celia Wade Brown who will be joining us a little later, Her Excellency Lady Susan Satyanand, Mr Mark Michel, Chairperson for the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of the Parliament and member of the NZ-Turkish Parliamentary Friendship Group, and all of our dear guests and friends as well as members of the Turkish community.

Following the conclusion of the official part of today’s launch, you all are invited to enjoy refreshments where the café is located.

Dear Friends,

This exhibition, a first in New Zealand, mostly telling the Turkish story of the Gallipoli Campaign, is part of the activities of the Turkish Embassy to commemorate the 100 anniversary of the Çanakkale Land Battles. The collection was brought together by the Turkish Chief of General Staff in cooperation with the Turkish Foreign Ministry particularly for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign. I wish to thank the National Library of New Zealand for letting us use a few images that they own.

It is a “on the move” exhibition. It is travelling so that the brave men and women who fought this epic war could tell their stories to as many people as possible. So far we had the opportunity to exhibit these photographs in Otaki, Christchurch and Lower Hutt. Next will be Auckland War Memorial Museum.

100 years ago our grandfathers fought in Gallipoli. It was a war which resulted in devastating casualties for all. The Turkish Nation lost almost a whole young generation, and many who did return home were wounded.

Lieutenant İbrahim Naci was among the thousands of Turkish soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice when he was only 21 years old. In his diary, he portrayed the Gallipoli peninsula when he first arrived on 31 May 1915, as follows:
“Oh. Such sadness in the redness of the sunset! It was as if it was crying for all the tragedies, which had happened on this peninsula. Who knows how much sorrow and grief it was carrying.”
21 days later, Lieutenant İbrahim would write in his diary the following words, which would actually be the last page of his diary:
“7.00 am: The enemy attacked us the whole night. Now we are leaving. I hope the best from Allah… 11.00 am: We went into battle. Millions of cannons and guns exploded… Now, my first corporal has been wounded. Farewell. İ. Naci”

It feels he knew that he would die after writing these words, because unlike previous pages, he signed the bottom of this page to farewell forever.

The war was devastating for the New Zealanders too. As His Excellency the Governor General mentioned in his speech when we were together in Turkey at Chunuk Bair on 8 August this year, I quote: “the western side of Chunuk Bair was ‘a most revolting sight; … a solid mass of dead men”, according to the description of Private Benjamin Smart.”

There are many heart-breaking memories from each side that we have heard from our grandparents or read from the memoires of the soldiers who fought in Gallipoli as the impact of war on human soul is very much the same for everyone.

When you look around now, you will see not only the battle fields but people. These people were real they fought and died or were wounded in the Peninsula. Please listen to these long-lost souls carefully as they will share their stories with you. Look into their eyes, they will tell you the brutality of the war, deepness of human suffering and how sacred life must be.

Today the battle grounds of Gallipoli where soldiers of different nations lie in peace, side by side, stand as an eternal monument to peace and friendship and will continue to do so.

Today, we the Turks and New Zealanders, proudly set an example on how to forge a unique friendship out of a painful war.

Today, following Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s motto “peace at home, peace in the world”, the Turkish Nation is keen to nourish the strong friendship that we have established with New Zealand after the war in Gallipoli, and to pass it on to our children.

Let me conclude by honouring and paying our respect to all our fallen in Gallipoli 100 years ago, and invite Honourable Minister Peter Dunne to share his remarks with us.

Thank you.

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