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Turkey investigates why school pupils were shown footage of ex-PM's hanging

Adnan Menderes was a Turkish politician. He was the Turkish Prime Minister between 1950–1960 [Anadolu Agency]
Adnan Menderes was a Turkish politician. He was the Turkish Prime Minister between 1950–1960 [Anadolu Agency]

Turkey’s Education Ministry is investigating how animated footage of the execution of a former prime minister was shown to children as part of their home-schooling during the coronavirus outbreak, Education Minister Ziya Selcuk said on Tuesday.

Students started home classes on Monday after a week off school as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus, which has killed 37 people in Turkey.

An online teaching platform and three TV channels for primary, middle and high school students were set up to provide lessons at home.

But the channel for middle school students aged 12-15 broadcast an animated recreation of former premier Adnan Menderes being hanged, angering critics who said the subject was unsuitable for children and served ideological purposes.

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Menderes, whom President Tayyip Erdogan cites as an inspiration, was executed after a 1960 military coup. Erdogan and his ruling AK Party (AKP) have often said Menderes, who was known for his authoritarian style, was unjustly executed.

The ministry has started an investigation into what Selcuk described as a mistake committed by officials rushing to prepare material.

“There are documentaries between lessons. We are working into the night and there was an error with labelling,” he said in interview with HaberGlobal television channel.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) accused the government of putting ideology before ethics.

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“How can you explain death to such small children through an execution?” CHP Deputy Chairman Seyit Torun said on Twitter.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) criticised what it called “pedagogically unacceptable” problems on the first day of home-schooling.

The clip showed a noose being put over Menderes’ neck, a stool being kicked out from underneath him and then his feet hanging below, as a narrator recaps the events.

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