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23 April National Sovereignty and Children's Day - 23 Nisan Çocuk Bayramı

  • 1225 Milvia St Berkeley, CA, 94709 United States (map)


We will be preparing a special program with our kids to celebrate this occasion on  Sunday April 19th. Due to our limited resources, this event will not be open to public.

The History and Meaning behind Turkish National Children’s Day

On the 23rd of April, 1920, in the wake of the First World War and collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk formed the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM), which was the foundation of the modern Turkish Republic.

Concerned about the nation’s young population, many of who were war orphans or families in need with limited post-war resources, the young leader addressed the Nation’s children from Bursa in 1922 (even before the 1925 Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child):

“Little ladies, little sirs...
You are all roses, stars of our future and light of our fortune.
It is you who will overwhelm the country with a noble illumination. You should work knowing how important and valuable you are.
We expect a lot from you girls and boys!”

In 1925, in an effort to raise funds for children and families in need, and to bring the nation’s attention to the orphans’ cause, the National Child Protection Agency (formerly called “Himaye-i Etfal Cemiyeti”) created Children’s Celebration Day, choosing the 23rd of April in honor of the foundation of the Republic.  From1929 onward, this week was celebrated in the Turkish Republic as the Children’s Week.  In1981, the title of the Celebration was changed to “National Sovereignty and Children’s Day”.

The modern-day vision behind this day is to help improve the feelings of fraternity, love and friendship among children and to contribute to a peaceful world.
Recognition of the importance of children’s rights has been growing in the international community, and organizations including UNICEF have followed Turkey’s example in proclaiming an annual celebration for the world’s children.

Over the last two decades, Turkey has been working hard to internationalize this important day. Their efforts resulted in large number of world states’ sending groups of children to Turkey to participate in the day’s festivities.  During their stay in Turkey with Turkish children, the visitors and hosts learn about each other’s countries and cultures.  There is also a special session of the Grand National Assembly where the children all pledge their commitment to peace in the world.

Currently, according to a report from Turkish children’s right organization Gundem Cocuk, there are over 893,000 undocumented children working in factories and in the farming industry, over 2,000 children in prisons, over 181,000 child brides, and over 42,000 children living on the streets.  They note that during the Gezi Park protests, over 294 children were taken in custody by the police, and cite a 45% increase in child rapes since 2012.

As we celebrate this important day with our children, we hope to leave a better future for ALL the children in the world and in Turkey.  By celebrating this day, we as a community are also taking a stance, sending a message that the international world is watching and that we are united in our efforts to protect our children’s rights no matter what our nationality is.