The Dersim Massacre and the Roots of Turkish Fascism

Dersim Massacre is the name given to the events that took place in Dersim between 1937-1938 due to the disagreements between the central Turkish government and Kurdish tribes in Dersim regarding the dominance of the region. The city’s current name, whose former name was Dersim, is Tunceli. In the process of the massacre, exile, and genocide that started with the “Tunceli Law” enacted on December 25, 1935, the name of Dersim was changed to “Tunceli” on January 4, 1936. Tunceli was the State’s name for the massacre and genocidal operation that would be launched about a year later, referring to the rhetoric “The iron (tunç, bronze in Turkish) hand of the state will be felt upon Dersim.” Massacre in Dersim continued intensely until the end of 1938. With the execution of Seyyid Rıza and his friends between 15-18 November 1938, the massacre was actually ended, but the State’s aggression continued intermittently throughout 1939. Seventy-two thousand people were directly or indirectly affected by the massacre. The Dersim Massacre, carried out by the illegitimate Turkish State, which began to build a “nation-state” with the proclamation of the Republic in 1923, also had the aim of cultural genocide, considering adults were forced to relocate and the female children of those murdered were adopted.

Dersim is a region with different characteristics in terms of its ethnic identity and religious beliefs. Because of this dissimilarity, it has been faced with the politics of destruction for hundreds of years. Despite all the central authority initiatives of the State in the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the first periods of the Republic, the relative autonomy of Dersim continued. Calling events that took place in Dersim a rebellion only would be beneficial to Kemalism, the founding ideology of Turkey, because to say that there was a rebellion only would lead to a cover-up of the massacre and the genocidal policies that have continued for years under today’s flawed so-called liberal law. Because people were already exposed to very difficult conditions under the pressure of the central authority. When the Turkish army assembled an operation, the people were armed to protect themselves. Officially, the thesis is defended that there was a rebellion and that the State suppressed it. Because in order to legitimize an operation in which 50 thousand people were killed, a “rebellion” had to be used by the criminal State.

Essentially, the Turkish army was designed to protect the country from any element that propagates non-Turkish ethnic identities. Shaking the founding values ​​of the Turkish Republic may lead to the awakening of uniform-minded Turks and the disintegration of the country. Given that the Turkish people and the State have the Sevres syndrome, it is possible to say that everyone is a bomb ready to explode and that the minorities were the most affected.

Kurdish leaders were executed by the  Independence Tribunal, inspired by the court with extraordinary powers established in France in 1793. These courts were initially established to try “espionage,” “debauchery,” “reign supporters,” rebels, and mostly deserters. In later periods they implemented their fascist ideas “to maintain peace” and target potential insurgents by targeting dissident persons, and trying them in state courts wherein they had no opportunity to defend themselves ( often these decisions were executions) — a short example of how the law is the legitimation of state ideology.

We have seen what the somehow self-governing Dersim suffered in the motherland where they have lived for thousands of years. It is obvious how far the State can go by using its territorial integrity as an excuse; it has designed its laws and founding values ​​to hide and legitimize these devilish events even after a hundred years. Another heartbreaking thing I can say in light of the Dersim massacre is that the world today sees Erdogan as a dictator, but the main opposition party is the CHP, which is the party of Atatürk, who carried out these massacres. A good future cannot be built in this country without opposing Kemalism, which is the founding values ​​and ideology of the criminal State.

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