The Turkish government has banned locals from attending Anzac Day dawn service ceremonies on the Gallipoli peninsula tomorrow, citing heightened security fears. Turkish nationals—including bus drivers and tour guides—are strictly prohibited from being anywhere near Anzac Cove for the service, as tensions between Turkey and Australia and New Zealand run high in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks. The Turkish military has already imposed the lockdown on the peninsula after conducting an extensive security sweep, The Australian reports.
“Nothing is left to chance and keeping every Turkish person out eliminates a lot of risk,” an unnamed official told the newspaper. “From the top, it is very important that nothing happens.”
About 1,200 registered foreigners, comprised of some 700 Australians and 500 New Zealanders, are expected to attend tomorrow morning’s ceremonies at Anzac Cove. Turkish dignitaries who are part of the service will also be allowed to attend. It’s expected, however, that the military will be performing multiple vehicle and personal checks, as well as airport-style security screenings, as people approach the beach for the service.
The crackdown comes just a little over a month after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke about sending Australians and New Zealanders home in body bags, and broadcast footage of the Christchurch massacre during political campaign rallies. One such rally was held near the Gallipoli peninsula itself—and in that instance, Erdogan spoke explicitly about the Anzac offensive that was launched on Turkish shores in 1915.
"Your grandparents came here… and they returned in caskets," he said, sweeping a hand towards the infamous beach at Anzac Cove. "Have no doubt we will send you back like your grandfathers."
Darren Chester, Australia's veterans' affairs minister, supported Turkey’s decision to ban locals from attending the peninsula. Speaking to ABC News breakfast this morning, Darren said "It's actually not unprecedented for the Turkish authorities to recommend that Turkish nationals not attend the service, it's happened in previous years,” SBS reported.
"I'm sure there'll be a very solemn, very respectful commemorative event on the peninsula tomorrow which will be well attended by visitors from mainly Australia and New Zealand."
This article originally appeared on VICE AU.