ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily News)–Workers began the demolition of Kars’ Monument to Humanity on Tuesday, removing the 19-ton head of one of the figures following some technical difficulties.
There will be no reversal of the contentious demolition, Özlem Öztürk, a press consultant for Kars Municipality, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, adding that the work should be completed within 10 days.
“The beginning of the demolition and the end as well have been announced in the contract, so the work should be done according to contract,” said Öztürk.
The municipality is not destroying the “Monument to Humanity,” but “humanity” itself, said Naif Alibeyoğlu, the former Republican People’s Party, or CHP, mayor who originally approved the construction of the peace monument in 2004.
A cable used in the demolition process snapped four times before the contractors, who shouted “Allahuekber” (God is Great) before beginning the work, were able to remove the head via crane. The firm decided to place the first head in a cargo truck after a smaller truck was unable to transport the massive head, Doğan News Agency, or DHA, reported.
The head will be delivered to a storage site belonging to the municipality in the eastern province.
The work was supposed to start Monday, but strong winds in the area prevented the beginning of the demolition.
Yücel Yağcı, the owner of Turkish construction firm Avşin İnşaat, which won a tender March 7 for the job to tear down the statue, said the remaining portions would be cut into 18 pieces and removed.
During a visit to Kars in January, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the monument “freakish” and said it threatened to overshadow historical sites in the area. After Erdoğan called for the sculpture’s demolition, the municipal assembly in Kars passed a motion to tear down the monument, saying it had been illegally erected in a protected area.
Sculptor Mehmet Aksoy said in January 2010 that Alibeyoğlu had wanted a monument of peace as opposed to other monuments with messages of war and hatred. “War is a crime against humanity and people cannot progress forward with wars.”
Aksoy has also warned that a demolition of the monument would resemble the Taliban’s destruction of ancient Buddhist statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, in 2001 and be an embarrassment for EU-candidate Turkey.
“These two figures in the sculpture are actually a single human torn in half. They are in a position of confrontation against each other, made into enemies. The two figures become a single person again with the outreached hand.”
Meanwhile, a group of people from the Republic Coalition Platform protested the demolition in front of the Culture Ministry building in Ankara, Anatolia news agency reported Tuesday.