Alevis invite PM to Maraş Massacre memorial
Protestors carry the photos of people killed in the Maraş Massacre in this file photo taken during last year’s memorial. Alevis hope to see Erdoğan in Maraş this year.Alevi organizations are hoping Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will attend a memorial service to be organized in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş on Dec. 24 in honor of the victims of vicious attacks 33 years ago.
A memorial is planned by Alevi organizations for the 33rd anniversary of the Maraş Massacre in which Alevis in Kahramanmaraş were killed in attacks by Sunni Muslims and extreme nationalists known as the “Bozkurtlar” (Grey Wolves) from Dec. 19 to 26, 1978.
The secretary-general of the Alevi Bektaşi Federation (ABF) told the Hürriyet Daily News that the prime minister should be there, too, after the Dersim apology he made last month.
“If he is sincere about his apology for Dersim, then he should be with us at Kahramanmaraş where we will honor the innocent people who were killed because of their beliefs,” Fevzi Gümüş said.
Thousands of Alevis were killed in military operations in the eastern province of Tunceli, which was renamed Dersim, from 1936 to 1939. During a speech last month, Erdoğan said he was sorry for the incidents in the name of the state.
Officials from the Pir Sultan Abdal Culture Association (PSAKD) said the Dersim apology was a good start for Alevis, but added that light should also be shed on the Maraş Massacare.
“The apology was a good start to ease Alevis’ hearts, which mourned for years. However, the people responsible for the Maraş Massacare haven't served sentences yet although it occurred more recently than Dersim,” one official told the Daily News.
Concerns about the memorial
Meanwhile, Kahramanmaraş Gov. Şükrü Kocatepe disclosed his disapproval of the memorial in a state-run TRT television broadcast last week.
“We think there is no need to prise open an old wound,” he said, adding that a memorial could subvert the public’s peace through outside participants’ sedition.
Gümüş said the officials should give permission for a memorial if they wanted to face up to the Maraş Massacre.
“Officials debated so much about facing up to the massacres after the Dersim apology. Here is the Maraş Massacre, if they want to face up,” Gümüş said, adding that the memorial should be in Kahramanmaraş where people were killed.
Alevi organizations said 111 people died, over 1,000 people were wounded and that 552 houses and 289 offices were demolished during the right-wing attack in Kahramanmaraş in 1978. HDN