Fethiye’s Ozgecan Aslan Memorial Park now open

Fethiye’s new memorial park opened yesterday to coincide with International Women’s Day.

ozgecan park
The memorial statue at the centre of the park

If you are in Fethiye make sure to take a stroll along the seafront promenade and visit the new Ozgecan Aslan Memorial Park opposite Marine restaurant. The park was officially opened in an emotional ceremony yesterday by Fethiye’s Mayor Behcet Saatci, Songul and Baris Ali Aslan, Ozgecan’s Mother and Brother, and Fethiye Oner, her Aunt.

The park is a beautiful tribute to a young girl who tragically lost her life. It’s modern and striking with high sculpted flowers, palms, plants, flowers and a monument in remembrance of the 20 year old student who was brutally raped and murdered on February 11th 2015 in Mersin.

Fethiye’s new park lies in memory of Ozgecan Aslan, a psychology student brutally murdered last year.

Fethiye’s new park is named after the university student Ozgecan Aslan who was raped and murdered following a trip on a minibus in her home town of Mersin.  The terrible crimes were committed by the bus driver, his father and their friend. Thankfully they were caught and are all now serving life sentences with no chance of parole. The publicity surrounding the murder provoked nationwide outrage. It sparked marches and protests right across Turkey. Ladies across the country united to call for the government to reform laws and address issues concerning violence against women. They called for greater penalties to be put in place for those found guilty of sexual abuse, domestic violence and harassment of women. The story of Ozgecan provoked such a response with women throughout Turkey that her name became synonymous with women’s rights. Ladies finally found the courage to voice their suffering and bring about change.

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The moving words on the memorial plaque

Ozgecan’s memorial statue holds a plaque written in both Turkish and English giving real meaning to the park and sculpture, “This has been created to give a voice to unlived lifes and their soundless screams. Here our daughter Ozgecan, who has been the victim of violence like countless other women, is being portrayed as the legendary phoenix that rises up from the ashes and reaches freedom”.

Fethiye’s park is not the first monument to remember Ozgecan.

Fethiye’s park is the latest memorial for Ozgecan. There is a memorial forest in Mersin where young saplings were planted by the student’s family, friends and community. A beautiful white statue of Ozgecan was sculpted by Mehmet Aksoy and placed by her grave last September, a scholarship fund has now been created to help young women in need of support, and a number of other parks, women’s movements and memorials in her name now exist across Turkey.

It was a touching and emotional opening ceremony.

Emotion ran high at yesterdays event. Powerful speeches were given by Ozgecan’s mother and Mayor Behcet Saatci. There were prayers held by the Fethiye Mufti and there was hardly a dry eye at the gathering. Women were given red carnations and white daisy stickers as a symbol of Ozgecans life.

Where once there stood ballerinas, now there are none.

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The park featuring ballerinas. Photo via haberler.com

Events rarely run smoothly in Turkey and the run up to the opening of the park was no exception. Local social media was a buzz with posts asking why the beautiful white ballerina sculptures initially planned for the park suddenly disappeared on the eve of the opening. These sculptures were modern and striking. They were hard to miss standing tall, mounted on podiums around the main memorial. The dancers skirts swirled high offering shade from the sun to the seating below. There was a lot of speculation as to why they were taken away. Some said they were seen as inappropriate given the meaning behind of the park, saying that to sit below the dancer you were technically sat beneath a women’s skirt. The council did release a statement saying that the ballerinas were removed as they took the focus away from the main memorial statue. They assured everyone that the dancers will reappear at a park some point in the near future.

Do head along to the Ozgecan Aslan Memorial Park and let us know what you think. Just up from the Oceanwide Properties office, it is certainly a place that we here are sure to visit often. It offers us all a beautiful place to sit, reflect and watch the world go by.

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