Turkey celebrates 100th year of parliament at home and in the sky amid coronavirus pandemic

Turkey celebrates 100th year of parliament at home and in the sky amid coronavirus pandemic
The centennial celebrations mostly took place indoors due to a four-day curfew imposed to impede the spread of the novel coronavirus.
3 min read
23 April, 2020
Turkey's parliament held its first session of April 23, 1920 [Getty]
A Turkish Airlines plane flew over the country on Thursday making the shape of the country's flag with its flight path to mark centennial celebrations for the founding of Turkey's parliament.

The celebrations for Turkey's National Sovereignty and Children's Day were changed due to the coronavirus pandemic, with authorities replacing traditional parades and school ceremonies with observances in line with social distancing efforts.

Flight tracking website Flightradar24 showed a crescent and a star over Turkey outlined by a Boeing 777 in celebration of the occasion, while Turkish television stations showed children with flags on their neighbourhood streets.

The anniversary of the founding of the Turkish National Assembly, which occurred during the country's war of independence against foreign occupying powers, was dedicated to children by the republic's founder Mustafa Kemal, widely known as Ataturk.

On social media, Turkish citizens shared photos of flag-adorned windows and indoor celebrations as the usually outdoor festivities were forced to stay at home amid a four-day curfew to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The government has also asked Turkish citizens to sing the national anthem in the evening.

Officials wearing masks also visited the mausoleum of Ataturk in the capital Ankara. Critics accused the officials of breaching social distancing advice after the parliament's official Twitter account shared photos of dozens of officials stood next to one another.

The latest health ministry figures show 2,376 people have died from the coronavirus in Turkey. The country ranks seventh in the world in the number of confirmed infections, which are nearing 100,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Experts say the true toll of the pandemic around the world is much higher than the Johns Hopkins tally, due in part to limited testing and difficulties in counting the dead in the midst of a crisis.

To stem the spread of Covid-19, Turkey closed schools, restaurants and other public spaces, barred people under 20 or over 65 from leaving their homes and instituted weekend lockdowns for all in 30 large cities and one province.

In past years, the national sovereignty day was marked with parades, celebrations and schoolchildren acting out ministerial roles with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, called for an election amid the war of independence after the Ottoman Empire's defeat in World War I. On April 23, 1920, the Grand National Assembly held its first session.

A referendum in 2017 changed Turkey's system of governance from parliamentary to an executive presidency, giving Erdogan wider powers.

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