Thursday 19 November 2015

Talk: Turkish Cypriots, the Battle of Gallipoli and the plan to return Cyprus to Ottoman Turkish control


Two keynote speakers are taking part in a special talk in North London this Saturday to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Çanakkale (Gallipoli). Organised by the Cezire Association, speakers Ertan Karpazlı and Mustafa Kureyşi will put the spotlight on the role of the Turks of Cyprus during this famous battle and in the years immediately after.

Journalist and Cezire Association Turkey Representative Ertan Karpazlı will highlight the participation of Cypriot Turks at Çanakkale in 1915, and how their role continued into the Turkish War of Independence, which started in 1919.

The title of the second talk by academic Mustafa Kureyşi, a specialist in Cypriot history and Islam, is: Turkish prisoners of war in Famagusta and the organisation for union with Turkey.

Through newly discovered primary sources, Kureyşi will explain what happened to the Ottoman Turks caught as prisoners of war (PoWs) by the British during the Battle of Çanakkale and brought to British-occupied Cyprus. It includes an incredible plan to rescue them and to start a revolt to return Cyprus to Ottoman Turkey.

Keynote speakers Ertan Karpazlı (left) and Mustafa Kureyşi
Talk: Cypriot Turks and the Battle of Çanakkale
Date: Saturday 21 November 2015
Start time: 2pm
Language: English
Venue address:  Turkish Cypriot Community Association (TCCA), 628-630 Green Lanes, Harringay, London N8 OSD
Admission: Free
More info: via Facebook 

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Free London screening of Breath of the Beloved / Mâşuk'un Nefesi

Abdurrahman Düzcan (left) with mevlit master Mustafa Başkan

Abdurrahman, a music conservatory student, is eager to perform the mevlit (a hymn about the birth of the Prophet Muhammed) just as it was hundreds of years ago. He sets out to learn by meşk (one-to-one training in the traditional arts), an increasingly rare form of teaching given the dwindling number of master practitioners.  

During a holy night, Abdurrahman is touched by a beautiful recitation of the mevlit at Istanbul’s famous Sultan Ahmet Mosque and seeks out the mevlitçi (professional orator of mevlit) to ask to become his pupil. The master, Mustafa Başkan, turns out to be Turkey’s leading mevlitçi.

Set in modern times and told as a docu-drama, this classic student-master story is an authentic depiction of receiving meşk. Director Murat Pay captures the special bond between the pupil and teacher who together journey back hundreds of years to the roots of Turkish classical music, visually demonstrating the importance of the tradition of mevlid-i şerifii, and the joy and comfort it brings Muslims during births, deaths, and life’s other critical moments.

Date: Friday 20 November 2015
Start time: 7pm
Duration: 87 minutes
Language: Turkish with English subtitles
Venue address:  Yunus Emre Institute, 10 Maple Street, London W1T 5HA
Admission: Free
More info: telephone: 0207 387 30 36 / email:

Monday 16 November 2015

Turning 20: Turkey’s psychedelic kings BaBa ZuLa on their musical idols, best gigs and ambition to play in Antarctica


By İpek Özerim 

Described as “art-anarchists”, BaBa ZuLa have carved out a name as fine purveyors of alternative Anatolian music, a hip psychedelic blend of electro, dub, funk, rock ‘n’ folk. Lyrically conscious, their other-worldly Oriental dance beats, playful dress sense, and surreal live performances have gained them a huge global following.

They featured in Fatih Akın’s seminal film Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul (2005), and the band remains an international reference point for those wanting to dig deeper into the progressive politics and sounds of contemporary Turkey.

Their origins date back to their student days at Boğaziçi University in the late 1980s, when founder members Osman Murat Ertel, Levent Akman and Emre Onel were all part of a musical collective called Zen. They started out playing psychedelic rock, but quickly decided improvising was more fun.

The 1996 film that gave birth to BaBa ZuLa
In 1996, a chance film project resulted in the need for a second band. A university friend, Turkish Cypriot film director Derviş Zaim, wanted Zen to do the soundtrack for his new movie Tabutta Rövaşata (Somersault in the Coffin). After watching it, most of Zen refused to be involved, but Ertel, Akman and Onel liked the film and so formed a mini band they called BaBa ZuLa (the name means ‘Big Secret’) to do the music.

Following its release, the film won multiple awards, pushing the trio into the spotlight. A live concert led to even more invites, prompting them to co-opt American bassist William MacBeath and, through him, saxophonist Ralph Carney for their performances. Guest musicians have been a regular feature of the band ever since.

Over the past two decades, their collaborators have included London dub master Mad Professor, Jamaican reggae stars Sly and Robbie, and Dr. Das (Asian Dub Foundation), as well as Turkish Romani clarinet virtuoso Selim Sesler and iconic actor Tuncel Kurtiz, whose distinctive vocals appear on several BaBa ZuLa tracks.

Like the band’s line-up, their musical journey has also been fluid. They have released eight studio albums to date, with Ruhani Oyun Havaları / Psychebelly Dance Music (2003), produced by Mad Professor, and Kökler / Roots (2008) among their best known internationally. The band’s knack of harmonising traditional Turkish instruments with western beats without ever diluting their Anatolian identity has made them firm favourites at home, while propelling them onto the global stage as one of Turkey’s most successful musical exports.
Sly & Robbie: one of BaBa ZuLa's many collaborators
Their current album, 34 Oto Sanayi, released last November, is their most political. It’s named after the location of their music studios on an industrial estate full of garages and a few artists’ studios, dwarfed by the newly-appearing skyscrapers that threaten to consume the whole of old Istanbul. The album’s eight short tracks cover everything from bigotry to women, minorities, and a song titled Epic Resistance / Direniş Destanı.

Not surprisingly, the Turkish government is not keen, but BaBa ZuLa remain undeterred. Their fans regard them as ‘kent âşıkları’ – modern city minstrels whose musical poetry brings the problems of ordinary folk to the fore, while helping to spread the love of life, God and people.

BaBa ZuLa live in London on 22 Nov.
This Sunday, 22 November, BaBa ZuLa will be playing at Epic in Dalston, east London, as part of their 20th anniversary world tour. We asked Murat Ertel about his inspirations and what’s next for Istanbul’s finest psychedelics.

Did BaBa ZuLa set out to be radically different when the band was first formed in 1996?
I always want to do what I really want. Realising dreams is one of the best parts of life. Being different has never been a priority. If you decide to stay as your original self and try not to follow success formulas, then you find yourself tagged as different for sure.

Who are your musical idols?
Great troubadour musicians visiting our family home, like Ruhi Su and Aşık İhsani, were my early Turkish heroes. Then I began listening to Turkish psychedelia, [artists] like Barış Manço and Fikret Kızılok. When I started going to high school, Santana, Hendrix and The Doors were among my idols.

Murat Ertel’s musical idols include Jimi Hendrix (left) & Barış Manço 

And your biggest inspiration?
My family. They [father Mengü Ertel, mother Ülfet Selçuk, uncles İlhan and Turhan Selçuk] were very well known in my country and pretty successful internationally, and had many similar friends, so I didn't have to decide to be an artist. I immediately began creating. They also made no compromise for fame or fortune till the end of their lives, which deeply inspired me.

So who are the current band members and where are you all from?
I sing, and play the electric saz, Cura, synthesiser, percussion, and Theremin. Levent Akman plays spoons, cymbals, gongs, and percussion. Özgür Çakırlar plays the darbuka, drums, bender, [frame drum], and percussion. Melike Şahin sings. And Periklis Tsoukalas plays the electric oud, vocals and synth.

Everyone except Özgür lives in Istanbul. I think only me and Melike were born here. Our families are originally from Istanbul, though Levent's family is also from Istanbul.

Describe BaBa ZuLa’s sound?
The 21st century sound of Istanbul. We have so many influences, like dub, punk, funk, rock etc. mingled with our geographic culture. In the past, it was always me writing the lyrics and melodies, and Levent producing the rhythms, but since the last album, there's more lyrical input from Melike and melodies from Periklis.

Which of your albums gave you the most satisfaction?
I would say our last album [34 Oto Sanayi] because it is our first vinyl, and lyrically and musically it's very different from our previous albums.

Do crowds in Turkey respond differently to your music to those abroad?
Live at Mekan, Taksim, Nov. 2013   Photo: Alper Ertug
Yes, they tend to dance more and understand the lyrics easily. But if we are around the Balkans, Greece, Mediterranean or North Africa, then dancing is no problem. There are fantastic responses elsewhere too: some Shamanic rituals, catharsis and ecstasy [occur] with no concept of borders.

For those who’ve never been to one of your concerts, what they can expect from BaBa ZuLa live?
A strong, deep connection with a specific Oriental culture and geography, that’s also familiar. Lots of effects to stimulate different senses, and a psychic experience if our performance is good.

How involved are you with the band’s visuals?
My father was a well-known graphic designer, so I learnt about the inter-discipline of contemporary arts from him. I designed our logo and I am the sole art director for all our album covers. I always consult Levent, but mostly the concert projections are my ideas too. Sometimes we work with special artists of course, but conceptually we have to be in control.

The band are renowned for their cool album covers, all designed by Murat Ertel

BaBa ZuLa is currently celebrating its 20th year. How have you evolved? What have been your highs and lows?
20 years is too long [to describe]. I think it's getting better and better. We became a group that can perform and is known around the world, having produced 8 albums. We give about 90 concerts a year and spend around 200 days on the road.

[Over the years] we have more things than we need, and [won] many awards for best film score or best theatre music band of the year etc. We are very modest, just wishing to play the music we want, and still we do it: that's the high point of my career. And now we can do it around the world.

Levent Akman at Festivalul Plai, Romania, Sept. 2013.   Photo: Bogdan Comanescu
Best international festivals you have performed at?
We’ve played Roskilde in Denmark, Memphis in May in the US, and the Spirit of Tengri Festival in Kazakhstan, the Cannes Film Festival, the Taormina Film Festival – hundreds of festivals! I love festivals.

In the UK we performed a few times at festivals too. The one I can not forget was the Festival of the Dying and the Dead in London.

Your music’s always had a politically conscious element to it. Has it become more difficult to earn a living in Turkey?
Now our country is in a civil war and this makes things worse than before. Many gigs are cancelled and people are getting killed. Because of our lyrics, we have been banned from lots of TV and radio channels and today's conditions do not help, but we won't compromise.

Are BaBa ZuLa still scoring soundtracks?
Yes. We have done music for many movies, documentaries and theatres since [Tabutta Rövaşata]. We also do live music for silent movies.

How many countries will you be visiting on this tour and is it your biggest-ever world tour?
Antarctica: the only continent where BaBa ZuLa has yet to perform
Yes I think so. It's the biggest since we were formed back in 1996. We cannot count countries, but counting the continents, there’s five of them. Speaking of two where we might not be able to perform [on this tour]: I really hope we can play again in South America and we have never performed in Antarctica – that would really be something. 

What else will you be doing for your anniversary?
We are planning a compilation album of old and new unreleased stuff, remixes and collaborations.

Which new artists would you like to work with?
Artists from the Argentinean Nu Cumbia label ZZK RECORDS – we love their releases and always dance to them.

What music are you currently listening to?
ZZK mostly, and the new wave of African Dub is also very appealing. As always, the old funk blues and psychedelia of 1960s and 1970s. Turkish records from this period have been a favourite and it feels so good that the world is finally catching up with them. Everybody seems to know and dig Selda [Bağcan] for instance. It's a great feeling.

Favourite things about London?
Swinging 60s of course. I also love the late 70s period, when punk and reggae come together. I really wish I could have seen Syd Barrett at the UFO club, and Hendrix coming to London and rising to fame. And the legendary Can performing in London.

Thursday 12 November 2015

Erdem Moralıoğlu wins ‘Man of the Year’


A top British Turkish fashion designer was named ‘Man of the Year’ by Harper’s Bazaar last week.

37-year-old Erdem Moralıoğlu picked up the award, alongside a host of famous female winners who were honoured by the magazine for their contributions to the creative industries and society.

Among the winners for Harper’s Bazaar 2015 Women of the Year Awards were Kate Winslet (British Icon Award), Nicole Kidman (Theatre Icon Award), Ellie Goulding (Best Musician Award) and Lara Stone as Model of the Year.

Erdem was the only male to be honoured at the celebrity-filled awards ceremony held last Tuesday at Claridges in central LondonLast year, the same award was won by actor Benedict Cumberbatch. 

The fashion designer’s profile has grown spectacularly since launching his own label in 2005. In the past decade, he has dressed some of the most famous ladies on the planet, from film stars such as Keira Knightley, Sarah Jessica Parker, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway, and Marion Cotillard, to fashion icon Alexa Chung and royalty. Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is among his biggest fans and regularly wears his dresses for her public engagements. 

Kate Middleton wears Erdem for her
Canada state visit in 2011
Erdem is Canadian-born, with a Turkish father and an English mother. He grew up between Montreal and Birmingham, England.

He graduated in fashion from Ryerson University in Toronto, before working as an intern for Vivienne Westwood. 

In 2000, he moved to London to study fashion at the Royal College of Art and after receiving his master's degree in 2003, he moved to New York where he worked alongside Diane von Furstenberg. Two years later, he relocated to Britain and launched his own ready-to-wear label, Erdem.

The couture label has become renowned for its elegant designs, where delicate ideas mix with bold fashion statements that use experimental textiles and vibrant prints.

A darling of London Fashion Week, Erdem has received numerous accolades over the years, including: the 2008 British Fashion Council’s Fashion Forward Award; the 2010 inaugural Vogue / British Fashion Council Designer Fashion Fund Award, the 2012 British Fashion Council’s New Establishment Award, the 2013 British Fashion Council’s Red Carpet Award and the 2014 British Fashion Council’s Womenswear Designer of the Year Award.

Today Erdem is sold in over 170 of the most exclusive retailers around the world, such as Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman in New York, and Selfridges and Harvey Nichols in London

In Turkey, his clothes can be found in Ankara and Istanbul in branches of Harvey Nichols, Polar Moda and Beymen. Splash in Limassol, south Cyprus, is also an official stockist.

Over the summer, Erdem opened his debut flagship store, located at 70 South Audley Street in Mayfair.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Atatürk and the re-birth of a nation: talk by Dr Haldun Solmaztürk


The 77th year of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s passing has been commemorated across Turkey and the Turkish Diaspora today.

Turkey’s founding father not only presided over vital military victories at Çanakkale and the Turkish War of Independence, which liberated Turkey from foreign powers, but also helped usher in a new modern era with a raft of far-reaching reforms. These included: abolishing the Caliphate and turning Turkey into a secular state, giving women the vote, translating the Koran into Turkish so it was more easily understood by the mass of Turks, replacing the Arabic alphabet with Latin characters, and placing education for the masses at the heart of his social reforms, to create a new, literate society that could compete with the world.

This Friday, the Çanakkale Remembrance Platform has organised a special seminar to recognise Atatürk’s important legacy. Titled “Bir Milletin Yeniden Doğuşu: Rumeli’den Çanakkale’ye, Çanakkale’den Çankaya’ya” (The Rebirth of a Nation: from Rumeli to Çanakkale, Çanakkale to Çankaya), keynote speaker Dr Haldun Solmaztürk will chart the Turkish leader’s life and career, and its impact on the Turkey and its people.

The event, entirely in Turkish, will start with refreshments, followed by a minute’s silence in remembrance of Atatürk, the singing of the Turkish national anthem and an introductory talk by the Turkish ambassador, Abdurrahman Bilgiç. There will be a question and answer session following Dr Haldun Solmaztürk's talk, with the event scheduled to end at 8.15pm.

Attendance to the central London is free, but people are required to register in advance to confirm their place.

About Dr Haldun Solmaztürk
Dr Haldun Solmaztürk is a political and security analyst, commentator and academic. He started his professional career in the Turkish army, rising to the rank of brigadier general. He retired from the army in 2005 after 30 years of service.
In his civilian life, he has served as a lecturer, writer, director and advisor for many think tanks and academic institutions including the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Ahmet Yesevi Kazakh-Turkish International University Strategic Research Center, and the Turkish Center for International Relations and Strategic Analysis (TURKSAM).

His expertise covers defence and security, political culture/psychology, civil society, democratization, foreign policy, and strategic policy-making. He has taught political leadership, policy formulation and resolution of cultural conflicts. He has also extensively researched the impact of insecurity on young people in Turkey and the transformation of political culture.

Since 2012, he has been an Honorary Research Fellow, at London Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, and Senior Fellow at the 21st. Century Turkey Institute’s Dpt. of National Security and International Relations in Ankara. In 2014, he joined Chatham House as an Academy Turkey Senior Fellow on International Security.

   Event: “Bir Milletin Yeniden Doğuşu: Rumeli’den Çanakkale’ye, Çanakkale’den Çankaya’ya”
   Type:  Seminar in Turkish
   Date:  Friday 13 November 2015
   Venue: West One, 9-10 Portland Place, London W1B 1PR
   Event starts: 6.30pm
   Entry: Free – registration required
   More info and to register: / 07788 908 803

Monday 9 November 2015

“Hellim is not just a packet of cheese,” Minister Çolak warns EU Commission


By John Oakes

TRNC Foreign Minister Emine Çolak said this week that if the issue of hellim cheese is resolved as a confidence building measure (CMB), with economic benefit to both sides, it will enhance the negotiation process. Any other strategy could have a negative impact on the Talks, which are currently progressing positively, she said.

At a conference organised by the Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Industry (CTCI), Minister Çolak reminded the audience that a quarter of the TRNC’s export trade depends on hellim, which provides jobs for 17% of the population.

She said hellim had a big cultural significance for Turkish Cypriots, and as a globally known and sold product, had a large role in the quest for peace in Cyprus.

Minister Çolak said the Greek Cypriot administration had applied to the European Union for a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for hellim: "They requested that the monitoring of hellim take place in 'areas under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus.' We said it was not possible for the monitoring in the North to be conducted by the Greek Cypriot Ministry. Our position was deemed valid, and alternatives were sought. "

"A mutually-agreed document treating hellim as an 'exceptional situation' was produced after the meeting on 16 July 2015 between the two leaders and the President of the EU Commission, Claude Juncker. It accepted that an independent institution would be assigned by the EU to monitor hellim production in the TRNC. The Commission also prepared a draft amendment to the Green Line trade Regulation to take effect with the PDO."

“Any negative decision taken by the Commission over hellim could harm the Talks”

Hellim - a vital part of the TRNC economy.  Photo: Akgol
"The Greek Cypriot administration then demanded various changes. We were quite happy with what we saw as a progressive agreement," said Çolak, adding: "After reaching it, we were disappointed by the amendments requested by the Greek Cypriots, who said it was a threat to their sovereignty. The Commission listened to their objections, and prepared another document. It then transferred the issue to the EU Council so that it could not be disputed any further, and a conclusion be reached. "
"The assumption of mutual benefit between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides on the issue of hellim is an important aspect of economic growth. But we are not just talking about a packet of cheese. Any negative decision taken at this stage by the Commission over the demands of the Greek Cypriots pertaining to the hellim PDO could harm the Talks. Since the Greek Cypriot side is not attempting to cooperate with us over the monitoring of hellim, the EU Commission should consider the Green Line Regulation implementations throughout this process."

"The best approach would be to establish a control mechanism which will include the relevant Chambers in Northern Cyprus, our Ministry of Agriculture, and the EU. We expect the EU Commission to adopt an approach which recognises the equal rights of the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots, and allows all relevant parties in Northern Cyprus with valid objections to be heard."

“Greek Cypriots are not negotiating in good faith”

Mr Fahri Zihni, chair of Embargoed!, the London-based organisation which campaigns to remove trade and other embargoes imposed by the UN and the EU upon the TRNC, said this week: "We have lobbied EU Commissioners and discussed hellim issues with the TRNC's Chamber of Commerce, and we have hosted the Chamber of Industry's President Cirali at a recent hellim round table discussion. It is very encouraging to see that Foreign Minister Çolak has picked up, developed and reinforced industry concerns in a clear attempt to make the PDO work for the benefit of both sides."

"It is clear from the way that the Greek Cypriots have speedily rejected both the letter and the spirit of this specially- negotiated hellim PDO that they are not negotiating in good faith. If they can renege on the Hellim agreement between themselves, the EU and Turkish Cypriots, what guarantee is there that they will not renege on an agreed constitution for the future of Cyprus?"


Hellim Wars, 8 Oct. 2015

Özgürgün retains leadership of the UBP


Hüseyin Özgürgün was returned as party leader on Saturday night after securing 56% of the vote. He beat former Finance Minister Ersin Tatar in the second-round of the Ulusal Birlik Partisi (National Unity Party) leadership contest, after five of the seven candidates were eliminated in the first round of voting held the previous week.

7 candidates in 1st round of leadership contest
The two men had gone head-to-head after neither had achieved the required 51% to win outright in the first round.

The all-male contest had seen a number of former government ministers stand for the party’s top job: Ünal Üstel, Ersan Saner, Nazım Çavuşoğlu, and Zorlu Töre. Oğuz Ceyda, a former President of the Turkish Cypriot Farmers Union, also threw his hat into the ring.

During a live count held on Saturday 31 October, the top two took over two thirds of the vote between them: Özgürgün came first with 44.3%, with Tatar on 23.4%. The next nearest candidate had been Üstel on 11.5%, followed by: Saner (8.1%), Çavuşoğlu (6.2%),Töre (5.2%), and Ceyda (0.6%).

Two in three party members voted in the first round. A slightly higher number turned out for the second.

Results from the UBP leadership runoff
The final results from the second round of leadership elections that took place at UBP’s 20th AGM on Saturday 7 November are as follows:

Total votes cast: 6,316

Hüseyin Özgürgün: 3,540

Ersin Tatar: 2,716

Spoilt/rejected ballots: 60

'Unity and togetherness'
The leadership contest should help the party reconcile after months of bickering and petty political point-scoring among the rival candidates and their supporters.

Özgürgün and Tatar shook hands and posed for the cameras following the announcement of the results. The UBP leader then invited the other leadership candidates, fellow UBP MPs and local council leaders to join them on the stage to demonstrate the party’s “unity and togetherness”.

During his victory speech, he said: “Today UBP has scored an important victory for democracy”, referring to the party’s new internal voting system and regulations. The 50-year-old politician pledged to do his best for this party and country, and thanked the National Executive and party members who worked during the two AGMs.

UBP, founded by the TRNC’s first President Rauf Denktaş and known for its patriotic views, is the junior partner in a coalition government with the centre-left Republican Turkish Party (CTP).

About Huseyin Özgürgün
A graduate of political sciences from Ankara University and a keen sportsman, Özgürgün started his political life in the centre-right Democrat Party, first entering Parliament in 1998. He then switched to their arch rivals UBP, going on to become party leader in 2006. He stepped down after 10 months.

A popular figure within the party, he headed the group of UBP MPs in Parliament in 2013 after party leader and former Prime Minister İrsen Küçük failed to get re-elected in the General Elections held that year. Soon after, Özgürgün, an MP for Lefkoşa, was re-elected as party leader.

Born in Lefkoşa, he is married and a father of two.

Sunday 8 November 2015

Remembering Gallipoli: special exhibition at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

Lancashire Fusiliers 42 Division Waiting to Disembark at Gallipoli, 1915. Photo: NMRN, Gallipoli: Myth & Memory

On this Remembrance Sunday, when the United Kingdom (UK) honours the heroic efforts, achievements and sacrifices of those who fought in past wars, spare a thought for a battle that is usually overlooked: the campaign at Gallipoli, or Çanakkale, fought against the Ottomans one hundred years ago, which ended in defeat for Britain and its allies.

Part of World War I, this bloody campaign began with a naval assault by the Allies in March 1915. Their aim was to capture the Dardanelles – a key sea route. The following month, the Allies, whose troops came from Great Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, and India, landed 500,000 soldiers on the Gallipoli Peninsula, intending to march on to Istanbul. But their plans were thwarted by the Ottomans, who won a famous victory in January 1916, although it exacted a heavy toll on both sides with some half-a-million casualties.

Listen to A World in London radio show on 'Gallipoli 100’
Earlier this year, former Konsey head Ahmet Baştürk was a guest on ‘Heritage at A World in London - Gallipoli 100’, a special radio programme hosted by DJ Ritu to discuss the legacy of the Gallipoli campaign. Joining him was Dianna Djokey and Fiona Smythe from the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.
L-R: Ahmet, Dianna, Fiona and DJ Ritu, who all took part in the Gallipolli 100 radio show
The hour-long programme contained heaps of historical facts from the 100-year old battle, intertwined with wonderful music, with the studio guests providing different perspectives, both British and Turkish, about the conflict. The show formed part of A World in London series to highlight the role of migrants in British history and heritage.

Listen to the show here

Gallipoli: Myth and Memory, Royal Navy Museum
One of the aspects the radio show covered was a special exhibition about Gallipoli at the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in Portsmouth during its centenary year commemorations. Called Gallipoli: Myth and Memory, it contains never-before-seen exhibits, witness accounts, and displays re-telling the story of Gallipoli distorted by national myth.

The exhibition explores every element, from British troop deployment to their evacuation nearly a year later. It demonstrates how the Royal Navy was at the heart of Britain’s military operation in Gallipoli, including its immaculate evacuation of troops, seemingly overnight, from the Peninsula.

Some of the myths that have since circulated about this epic battle include that the Ottomans were ‘weak and could be easily defeated’, that being in the Mediterranean, the Allies’ biggest threat would be ‘the heat’ (many troops actually froze to death), and that had the Turks lost Gallipoli, the First World War would have been over more quickly.

Among the exhibition’s highlights are: a 3 metre long model of HMS Swiftsure; Admiral Carden’s (who was in charge when the Allied fleet advanced up the Dardanelles Straits) archive, including his plans and correspondence with Winston Churchill; and naval officer Rowland Langmaid’s journal, which contains a diary complete with sketches and descriptions of what he observes while serving on a battleship in Gallipoli.

Other significant Portsmouth military sites for British Turks
The exhibition runs until the end of January 2016. While you are in Portsmouth, it’s worth visiting a few other important sites that hold significance for British Turks:

v      See HMS M.33, the sole surviving British warship from Gallipoli. It’s sited within the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, 130 metres away from the NMRN.

v      The Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson, overlooking Portsmouth, where the Dardanelles Gun is housed. Modelled on the guns used by the Ottomans during the victorious Siege of Constantinople in 1453, it was cast in bronze in 1464 by Munir Ali. At 5m long gun and weighing nearly 17 tonnes, it remained a core part of the Ottomans’ artillery for 340 years, helping to keep an array of forces at bay, including the British during their 1807 Dardanelles Campaign. In 1866, Sultan Abdülâziz gifted the Dardanelles Gun to Queen Victoria.

Admission to the fortress and its modern museum is free. Open daily from 10.30am to 4pm, last admission is 3pm.
The Dardanelles Gun, made of bronze by the Ottomans in 1464, now on display at Fort Nelson in Hampshire
v      Turkish sailors laid to rest at the Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery. Between 1859 and 1860, two Turkish ships were anchored off Hardway, Gosport. Some Turkish sailors were admitted to hospital suffering from cholera or injured during from training accidents. 26 died and were buried in the local town, which was dubbed ‘Turk Town’. Their remains were moved to their current burial site in 1900. Each year, the Turkish ambassador, and representatives of the Turkish armed forces and community come to pay their respects.

The cemetery is open daily and access is unlimited. It is located in Clayhall Road, Gosport, Hampshire, on the opposite side to Portsmouth Harbour, a 27-minute drive via the M27 from Portsmouth Historical Dockyard.

Turkish Naval Cemetery, at the Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery. Photo: Abdullah Gül during 2011 state visit to UK
For the Gallipoli: Myth and Memory and HMS M.33, check the NMRN website before travelling for ticket availability: it can get very busy during weekends and school holidays, with the number of visitors to certain exhibitions and tours limited.

Exhibition: Gallipoli: Myth and Memory
Runs until:  31st January 2016
Venue: National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (entry via Victory Gate at the corner of Queen Street and the Hard), Portsmouth, PO1 3LA
Winter (November to March) opening hours: 10am - 4.15pm daily. Open every day except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Tickets for NMRN & harbour tour: £8 (children), £13 (adults), or £33.40 (family ticket: two adults, three children)
How to get there: our-museums/nmrn-portsmouth
More info: