Felicity Party head claims 1993 mass killing in Sivas ‘was not a massacre’
Temel Karamollaoğlu, the head of the Islamic conservative Felicity Party, has claimed that the killing of 33 intellectuals, mostly Alevis, in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas in 1993 “does not amount to a massacre.”
The killings occurred when Karamollaoğlu was serving as mayor of Sivas and speaking on private broadcaster Habertürk on Oct. 19 he pointedly used the term “incidents” when speaking about what happened.
“I refrain from calling it the Sivas Massacre because a massacre is really something else. Yes, 33 people died and I accept that. When someone directly slaughters others, it is a massacre. But that’s not what happened,” he said.
When asked about his objection to turning the Madımak Hotel, where the attack took place, into a museum, Karamollaoğlu said having a “constant reminder” of the incident “might upset locals.”
He had previously denied any support for the group responsible for the attack, claiming that his address at the time - in which he said “May your holy war be blessed” - was a slip of the tongue.
The attack, which took place on July 2, 1993, targeted a group of artists and scholars participating in a conference organized by the Pir Sultan Abdal Culture Foundation (PSAKD), an Alevi organization.
Legendary Turkish short story writer Aziz Nesin, who was among the guests, had at the time become a public target for translating Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” into Turkish. After being encouraged by a number of local political leaders, a large and angry mob surrounded the hotel and set it alight, chanting against “infidels” attending the conference.
Some 33 people attending the conference died in the fire and two hotel personnel were also killed. Two protestors – who were part of the crowd that watched the hotel as people inside were burning to death and calling for help – also lost their lives in the fire.
Among the dead in the Madımak Hotel arson attack were poets Metin Altıok, Behçet Aysan and Uğur Kaynar, writer Asım Bezirci and Dutch anthropologist Carina Cuanna, as well as popular Alevi musicians Muhlis Akarsu and Nesimi Çimen.