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    77th anniversary of Dersim Genocide

    Today 4 May marks the 77`th anniversary of the beginning of the Dersim Genocide. The Turkish government has massacred thousands of people, those who survived were banished, Dersim was de-populated.

    The Dersim genocide took place in 1937 and 1938 in Dersim, now called Tunceli Province, in Turkey. It was the outcome of a Turkish military campaign to implement the Resettlement Law legislated in the framework of the Turkification process.
     
    In a series of military operations around tens of thousands Alevi Kurds and Zazas and Armenians killed.  The rest  of the population forcibly deported  from Dersim.

    Demographically, Dersim is a region overwhelmingly populated by Kurdish Alevis and Zazas. Due to this ethnic makeup, the people of Dersim have traditionally been perceived as "the other" by central governments with Islamic or nationalist leanings

    In 1934, Turkey passed a Resettlement Law, aimed at assimilating ethnic minority communities within the country. Its measures included the forced relocation of people within the country, with the aim of promoting cultural homogeneity, known as the Turkification process.

    This policy targeted the region of Dersim as one of its first test cases, and it had disastrous consequences for the local population.

    The Turkification program was to be completed in two phases. First, the government created the political and judicial framework necessary to consolidate state power in the Dersim region. An administration of inspectorates-general was established in 1935.This literally meant the introduction of martial law in Dersim.

    Second, after attempts at negotiations with local tribal leaders failed, the Turkish army began a military campaign against the Dersim region in 1937 to eliminate a supposed insurgency.

    Thousands of people were killed in the course of the first military operation, while tribal and religious leader Seyid Riza was captured and executed. Another military operation, backed by military aircraft, was carried out between December 1937 and August 1938, killing tens of thousand people.

    The methods used by the army were brutal, including the mass killing of civilians, the razing of homes, locking women and children  into haysheds which were then set on fire.  

    The remaining population of Dersim was forced to migrate to the western parts of Anatolia, and the name of the region was changed to Tunceli.

    The number of the killed varies according to the sources. The official report of the  General Ispectorate, says 13,160 civilians were killed by the Turkish Army and 11,818 people were taken into exile. However, a 2008 conference organised by Kurdish PEN reached the conclusion that Turkey was guilty of genocide, estimating that 50,000-80,000 were killed.

    In a speech in 2011, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan revealed the contents of some state documents on the Dersim massacre, and also apologized to the people of Dersim for Republican People's Party policies in the 1930s in an attempt to discredit his opponents in today's RPP party. In his speech he talked about the killing of several tens of thousands in Dersim.

     



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