North Cyprus has been plunged into mourning after waking up to the sad news that the wife of TRNC founding President Rauf Denktaş has died. Aydın Denktaş passed away at Lefkoşa Dr. Burhan Nalbantoğlu State Hospital at 8.20am this morning.
According to a statement by the hospital’s deputy head doctor Dr. Adil Özyılkan to TRNC news agency TAK, Mrs Denktaş had spent the past month being treated for pneumonia at the hospital. Her deteriorating condition had resulted in her being moved to intensive care last week.
Born in the capital Nicosia in 1933, Mrs Denktaş studied at the American Academy. In 1949, aged sixteen she married her uncle’s son Rauf Raif Denktaş. They remained married for sixty-three years until he passed away on 13 January 2012 aged 87. They had six children, including current TRNC Minister of Finance Serdar Denktaş.
Throughout her married life, she stoically supported Rauf Raif Denktaş, who had dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of Turkish Cypriots. The couple endured enormous hardships including at one point living frugally in exile with her husband and young family in Turkey between 1964 and 1968.
During her life, Mrs Denktaş also suffered huge heartache. She lost three of her children including Raif Denktaş, who died in a road traffic accident in 1985 aged just 35. In 2013, her grandson Can Denktaş committed suicide, shooting himself in the stomach by the grave of his father Raif Denktaş.
Tributes have poured in for the former First Lady. Daughter Ender Denktaş Vangöl wrote on her Facebook page “Our mother has reunited with our father…we have lost another icon”.
TRNC Transport Minister Tolga Atakan wrote: “Lady Aydın was a strong lady in the toughest of times. May God rest her soul. I wish her peace, and send my condolences to her family…Toros [Rauf Denktaş’s code name] is no longer alone.”
Ersin Tatar, leader of the main opposition Ulusal Birlik Partisi (National Unity Party), also offered his condolences to the Denktaş family this morning. A short statement he issued to press said:
“We are very sad having learned of the death of Founding President Rauf Denktaş’s dear wife Aydın Denktaş. The passing into eternity of Lady Aydın marks the loss of one of the most important names in our history. Both personally and on behalf of the National Unity Party I pray God rests her soul, and send my deepest condolences to her family, friends and the community.”
Above and top photos of Rauf and Aydın Denktaş, © Ender Denktaş Vangöl/Facebook