Let’s talk about ‘massacres’ of today

Let’s talk about ‘massacres’ of today

Initiated by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and strongly backed by the like-minded media, an ongoing campaign on the Dersim Massacre of the late 1930s has a clear motive. It is part of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s strategy against his party’s main rival that aims at tarnishing the image and value of the country’s oldest political party in the eyes of the Turkish people. During the election campaign, Erdoğan severely criticized the Republican People’s Party (CHP) former boss and Turkey’s second president İsmet İnönü for launching assimilation policies against the Kurds. Today, he and his men are leveling vocal accusations against the CHP over the killing of more than 10,000 Alevis at the hands of the security forces in Dersim, with undertones that everything was done upon orders of Atatürk, the national hero of Turks.

There is nothing wrong in facing the realities of the past, or writing newspaper articles, or shooting documentaries on such issues. This is the only way for nations to learn a lesson from history in order not to repeat the same mistakes in the future. In this sense, the lands of Anatolia have not been very successful.

But consistency in politics obliges the AKP to open debate on other and more recent historical events that remain a bleeding wound in the inner conscience of millions of Turkish people. For example, the Maraş massacre of 1978 in which at least 111 people, mostly Alevis, were killed and hundreds of others wounded at the hands of fascists backed by state officials. How about opening another investigation on the Sivas massacre of 1993 in which 37 intellectuals were killed when a mob of Islamic fundamentalists set fire on the Madımak Hotel?

Perhaps we should once again look into the backlog of unresolved murders in the 1990s and investigate them, no matter where the probes lead. The list could be extended with other sour historical events of a Communist witch-hunt in the 1950s or the massive arrests of innocent people who were subjected to brutal torture under military rule in the wake of coup d’états.

Let us skip over, if you may, those bitter cases of the past. Instead, let us deal with today’s oddities. Hopa and its people, for example, have been under close scrutiny since May just because Erdoğan was protested by dissident groups. Or Van, for example. Who do you think will open investigations on wrongdoings in the post-earthquake period? Children in this part of the country are still dying, not because of the earthquake but either of hunger or tent fires.

Eight elected deputies are still behind bars. Two Ergenekon suspects died in prison before they could even appear in court. Hundreds of others have been in jail for years without conviction in what many now see as “a massacre of the law.” Unpublished books have been confiscated and journalists have imposed self-censorship on themselves in what has become a “massacre of free speech.” KCK operations, massive illegal wiretappings breaching the right to privacy, a series of sex tapes of opposition figures, the release of the Lighthouse e.V. (Deniz Feneri) suspects after the deposition of prosecutors… Hopefully Turkey will also face those realities before they become history.