Canadian's Grave Forcibly Relocated to Accomodate Muslim Complaints...

The remains of a retired Canadian diplomat have been relocated to another corner in the Bodrum cemetery, following a local family’s complaints. Wife of the late diplomat Hans Himmelbach is deeply unhappy about the incident and says her efforts to stop the relocation was futile

Hans Himmelbach's family is frustrated about the relocation of the late diplomat's grave in Bodrum's Torba cemetery. DHA photo
The remains of retired Canadian diplomat Hans Himmelbach have been relocated to a remote corner in the Bodrum cemetery where he was buried, because a prominent local family was uncomfortable with his proximity to the graves of their loved ones.

“I cannot digest that my husband’s grave was moved to a corner because the neighborhood cemetery owners didn’t want him. This behavior doesn’t suit my country or the people of my country. This implementation is backward, I’ve lost my sleep,” said his wife İlknur Kummul Himmelbach, a previous national sports woman and a Turkish record holder.

The 61 year-old Hans Himmelbach settled in Torba with his wife in 2004. He died Oct. 20. Once permission was granted, his casket was delivered to the Torba cemetery accompanied by Muslim and Christian rituals at his wife’s request. The participants from both religions thought the ceremony contributed to the atmosphere of tolerance.

Nevertheless, İlknur Himmelbach was shocked one day when municipal workers said the Dayıoğlu family, one of Bodrum’s leading families, requested the relocation of Himmelbach’s remains because his grave was next to their relatives’.

Objecting to the relocation of her husband’s remains, İlknur Himmelbach applied to the Bodrum Municipality five times for an intervention. Her efforts were futile, though, and her husband’s grave was moved 20 meters and now lacks a proper gravestone.

“If they told me this incident was going to happen 30 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed them. My husband doesn’t deserve this. He moved to Turkey to make me happy,” said İlknur Himmelbach.

The Republican People’s Party, or CHP, member Dursun Göktepe and previous neighborhood head of Torba Turgut Kavcar gave their condolences to İlknur Himmelbach. “As Bodrum people, we are very unfair concerning this issue. This shame will hurt us. In order to alleviate the pain of Himmelbach’s wife, I will put this on the agenda of municipal assembly and do whatever is required,” said Göktepe.

The mayor of Bodrum from the Democratic Party, or DP, Mehmet Kocadon said he didn’t know the man’s remains were forcibly relocated. “I didn’t receive a remark saying that the location of the cemetery was moved forcefully. Regarding the issue, two families negotiated and took a mutual decision. If something happened due to misunderstanding, I also feel very regretful,” said Kocadon.

Saying that they particularly wanted to relocate Himmelbach’s grave, the businessman Sinan Dayıoğlu said although people from different beliefs are in the same cemetery, they should be in separate areas.

“They put Himmelback’s grave next to my mother Şükriye Saman and my cousin Burak Dayıoğlu. In the world, people having different beliefs are separated with walls or wires, even though they are in the same cemetery. This is for the respect of worship and belief,” said Dayıoğlu.

“We objected because we weren’t comfortable performing Muslim prayers right next to a Christian grave. We weren’t trying to hurt anybody,” said Dayıoğlu.