Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Sivas Massacre: 20 Years After

Amidst the current turmoil in Turkey, from Gezi Park to Lice, today on July 2nd one of the darkest chapters of the history of the Turkish Republic is commemorated all over the country and abroad. On July 2nd 1993 37 people were burnt to death in a hotel in Sivas, an anatolian city with a long history. 37 people burnt to death - and it was no accident. It was an organized attack on an Alevi conference. The people that died were mostly Alevi intellectuals and 2 hotel staff. The main target of the attack, writer and satirist Aziz Nesin, was able to escape, but died soon afterwards - from grieve and from the pain these events caused, says his son.

We know who did this. A mob of nationalists and religious fanatics that was at least in part protected by the state institutions and forces. These people knew what they were doing and yet hardly any of the perpetrators were held accountable. Some of those who backed the attacks, some of those lawyers who defended the perpetrators, late became deputies in parliament for the AKP. The case of Sivas has been dropped by courts because of statue limitations. The AKP recently proclaimed to launch an "Alevi campaign" which is supposed to emphasize the brotherhood of sunnis and alevis. Yet, the AKP government protects the perpetrators of the Sivas massacre, yet the AKP names the 3rd bridge over the bosphorus after a sultan who stands for massacres against the Alevi minority. The AKP accuses its opponents of playing games, yet there is no one in Turkey today who plays games the way the AKP does. Towards every oppressed and discriminated people, ethnic or religious minority, it plays a game of creating hope and then destroying that very hope. The first Kurdish opening was followed by a massive military offensive against the guerilla and a legal offensive against Kurdish politicians. With its ruthless politics the AKP once again threatens the peace process that has been kept alive by the patience of the Kurdish movement.

In order to commemorate this massacre tens of thousands of people gathered in Sivas, mostly Alevis, Kurds, Leftists and Socialists. They are calling the state to finally take action against the perpetrators and to stop the ongoing discrimination of the Alevi people in Turkey. The BDP (Peace and Democracy Party, legal pro-Kurdish party) has condemned the government policies regarding the Sivas massacre and the Alevi minority in general. They called for an apology and for a different politics towards the Alevis (and also towards the Kurds - it has to be noted that there are Turkish and Kurdish and Zaza Alevis in Turkey)). Leading BDP members will participate in the marches today in Sivas.

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