A series of commemoration events and actions have been held in Dersim, Ankara, Antep and Adana on the 78th anniversary of “Tertele”, the Dersim Massacre. The centre of the commemoration in Dersim was the Seka Sure area, the site of mass graves in Hozat.
Commemoration events were held in four cities on the 78th anniversary of the Dersim Massacre. The first commemoration was held in Dersim where the massacres took place.
A call for recognition and confrontation was made at the commemoration held in the Seka Sure area of the Bargini Village of Hozat District, where in April a mass grave of 24 people who were murdered during the Dersim Massacre was found.
The commemoration event was organized by the Seka Sure initiative, and HDP Dersim parliamentary candidates Alican Önlü and Edibe Şahin, Dersim Co-Mayor Nurhayat Altun, representatives of HDP, DBP, ESP, DHF, Partizan, EMEP and DEDEF, and the grandchildren of the members of the Baran and Canan family, whose bones were retrieved from the mass grave, attended the commemoration.
Cihan Söylemez, lawyer of the Canan and Baran families, said that the State of the Republic of Turkey had in a single day declared “rebels” its own citizens carrying identity cards and official seals as village heads. Söylemez added that massacres continued against the unarmed and defenceless people of Dersim throughout the years of 1937-38, and stated, “From poisonous gas to war planes, from burning people to death to crushing their skulls with sticks, from beheadings to killing babies with bayonets, all manners of brutal and barbarous methods were used against the people of Dersim”.
“The government’s apology is entirely devoid of sincerity”
Söylemez said that the half-apology issued by former Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan regarding the Dersim Massacre was considered insincere by the people of Dersim, and asked, “On April 14, in the Seka Sure area, following an excavation carried out by court decree, skulls belonging to babies and children, women and elderly were found, along with spent bullet cartridges. How long will you continue to run from facing the massacre?”
Edibe Şahin: Open the archives
HDP Dersim parliamentary candidate Edibe Şahin said that it was known that 78 years ago, the people of Dersim lived together in unity with diverse colours and faiths, and said, “Yet those who carried out the genocide here had come to civilise us. We were outside civilisation in their regard”. Şahin voiced her demand for the opening of official archives.
HDP Dersim parliamentary candidate Alican Önlü then said that the mountains, stones and brooks of Dersim had witnessed many sorrows, that thousands of people had been massacred, that many female children had been forced into exile, and that not a single site of graves had been officially revealed. Önlü also underlined the necessity of the immediate opening of the official archives, adding, “Dersim has made it to this day bearing many pains. It is enough, there has been enough pain, suffering and tears”.
“Mass grave excavations must begin”
Zarife Baran, a member of the Baran family, said that thousands of innocent people had been murdered and buried without a proper burial during the massacre, adding that she did not want a repeat of all the pains, and that excavation procedures for all the mass graves had to be initiated without delay. Baran addressed the government, saying, “We have not forgotten the pain you caused us, it is time for you to face your past. How can your conscience remain at peace?”
Following the speeches, 24 candles were lit for the 24 members of the Baran and Canan families massacred, and red carnations were laid at the site.
Demonstration in front of the parliament in Ankara
The Ankara Dersim Association, the Dersim 37-38 Collective Memory Platform and the Dersim Victims Platform made a press statement in front of the Dikmen Entrance of the Parliament on the anniversary of the 4 May 1937 Dersim Massacre. Öztürk Türkdoğan, the President of the Human Rights Association (İHD), HDP Ankara Parliamentary Candidate and former Dersim Mayor Songül Erol Abdil, HDP Ankara members and association members attended the statement. The statement was accompanied by the slogans “Tertele Dersim'i xo wira meke/Never forget the Dersim massacre”, “Munzur be vayir niyo/Munzur is not unprotected”, "Sima zavzeçe mara çi wast/What did you want from our children”.
HDP Antep holds press conference
The HDP Antep Provincial Branch held a press conference at the party building. HDP Antep provincial co-presidents Mehmet Karayılan and Dilan Çetinkaya, HDP Antep parliamentary candidates Mahmut Toğrul, Osman Demirci, Gülseren Kocaer, Fatoş Çetinkaya and Berivan Özpolat attended the conference. Speaking at the meeting, Provincial Co-president Dilan Çetinkaya underlined the fact that the State’s policy of carrying out massacres had not changed, and that the HDP was committed to revealing the truth about all massacres, and first and foremost the Dersim Genocide.
Human Rights Association Adana Branch makes statement
The Human Rights Association (İHD) Adana Branch held a press conference at the branch building to commemorate the Dersim Massacre. A banner proclaiming, “The Dersim Massacre is a crime against humanity. Never forget, never let forget” was unfurled, and speaking at the conference İHD Adana Co-President İlhan Öngör stated “In Turkish political history, whenever the State has begun to claim that it will ‘bring civilisation, republicanism and democracy, this has been followed by massacres and destruction”. Öngör added that those who wanted to take their own understanding of civilisation to Dersim, did not only massacre innocent lives, but also contaminated Munzur and entire humanity with their bloodied hands. (This report was compiled from the yuksekovahaber.com web site)