Commemorations of the Sivas Alevi Massacre across Turkey

SIVAS, Turkey (@gazetesabro) — On 2 July 1993, 35 Alevi intellectuals, writers, poets, and artists were burned alive after a mob set fire to the Madimak Hotel in the city of Sivas, Turkey, where the victims were gathered to participate in an Alevi cultural event about Pir Sultan Abdal. Each year on the anniversary of the massacre, demonstrators hold protests and vigils to commemorate the victims of the fire.

Yesterday, on the 27th anniversary, commemorations were held across Turkey.

In Sivas, relatives, friends, representatives of Alevi organizations, and others gathered in front of the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association building from where they walked to the Madimak Hotel were the 35 victims were killed in the fire. The commemoration in Sivas was dedicated to Behçet Aysan, a doctor and a poet who died in the fire. Participants wore white aprons with a photograph of Dr. Aysan and held a moment of silence. Speeches were given by representatives of Alevi organizations and relatives.

The Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) issued a written statement in which it said, that, despite the fact that 27 years have passed, the case has not been solved and no perpetrators were punished:

“The case of the Sivas Massacre was dropped years later because the case was barred. Although human crime has no limitation period, the murderers of 33 lives however have been declared ‘cleared’ this way.”

Sivas authorities had not allowed for the march due to Corona virus measures.

In the commemoration held in Ankara’s Sakarya Street, seven people were detained after the police intervened. In Istanbul, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) commemorated the Sivas Massacre by organizing a press conference in front of the provincial building. The Gazi Education and Culture Foundation (Gazi Cemevi) organized a memorial event in the garden of the Alevi house of worship (Cemevi) in Sultangazi, which was attended by HDP Istanbul Council member ​​Musa Piroğlu and representatives of Alevi institutions.

In Mersin, the Mersin Labour and Democracy Platform commemorated the Sivas Massacre by making a press statement at Özgür Children’s Park. In Dersim, non-governmental organizations and Alevi organizations held a commemoration in Sanat Street.

Historically, Alevis have suffered from national and religious extremism from within broader Turkish society.