ANF – MARAŞ 19.12.2014
According to official numbers, 111 people, mostly Alevis, were massacred savagely in the Maras Massacre from 19 to 25 December 1978. The witnesses of the massacre can not forget the agony of massacre despite 36 years passing over it. Thousands of Alevis were wounded during the incidents, over 111 people were massacred, more than 552 houses and some 289 shops were destroyed. The witnesses of the massacre say, “We witnessed babies being beheaded in their swaddles, how can we forget this?”
The massacre of Kahramanmaraş started with a bomb thrown into a movie house. Rumors spread that left-wingers had thrown the bomb. The next day, another bomb was thrown into a coffee-shop frequently visited by left-wing circles. In the evening of 21 December 1978, teachers Hacı Çolak and Mustafa Yüzbaşıoğlu were killed on their way home. They were known as left-wingers. While a crowd of some 5,000 people prepared for the funeral, right-wing groups stirred up emotions saying that “the communists are going to bomb the mosque, and will massacre our Muslim brothers”.
On 23 December 1978, the incidents turned into a mass phenomenon. Groups stormed the neighborhoods where Alevis were living, destroyed their houses and shops. Many offices, including that of Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) and Teachers’ Association of Turkey (TÖB-DER) were destroyed.
The court cases, opened at military courts, lasted until 1991. A total of 804 defendants, mostly right-wingers, were put on trial. The courts passed 29 death penalties and sentenced seven defendants to life imprisonment and 321 people to sentences between one and 24 years of imprisonment. The Court of Cassation quashed the sentences and because of legal amendments all defendants were released in 1991.
A secret document revealed that the secret service (MİT) had planned the incidents. Opinions of witnesses include the following observations:
Seyho Demir: “The Maraş Police Chief at the time was Abdülkadir Aksu. The massacre was organised by the Turkish secret service MIT, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Islamists together… As soon as I heard about the massacre, I went to Maraş. In the morning I went to Maraş State Hospital. There, I met a nurse I knew… When she saw me, she was surprised: ‘Seyho, where have you come from? They are killing everyone here. They have taken at least ten slightly-wounded people from the hospital to downstairs and killed them.’ This was done under the control of the head physician of the Maraş State Hospital. Lawyer Halil Güllüoglu followed the Maraş massacre case. The files he had were never made public. He was killed for pursuing the case anyway.”
Meryem Polat: “They started in the morning, burning all the houses, and continued in the afternoon. A child was burned in a boiler. They sacked everything. We were in the water in the cellar, above us were wooden boards. The boards were burning and falling on top of us. My house was reduced to ashes. We were with eight people in the cellar; they did not see us and left.
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Maraş Province Governor’s Office banned all marching, protest and press statement activities related to the commemoration of 1978 Maraş Massacre on its 36th anniversary.
The governor’s office based the ban on the possibility that protests might “go out of control and lead to a crime”.
Alevi Bektaşi Federation (ABF) Chairman Fevzi Gümüş said that Justice and Development Party (AKP) showed its insincerity on the facing of past pains.
“As ABF, we are behind our word. We will be in Maraş on December 21 so that there won’t be new massacres and we will not let this one forgotten.”
Held every year
Pir Sultan Abdal CANLAR Association also reacted to the ban, reminding that commemorations are held every year.
“On 19 December1978, people with ultranationalist and Sunni background in Maraş; shortly the ISIS people of the era, raided Alevi neighborhoods and brutally killed Alevi people. The massacre took 7 days…
“Alevis hold commemorations every year between December 19 and 25 in masses!”
İHD: The path to peace is from facing the truth
Human Rights Association (İHD), on the other hand, reminded the government that the path to peace is from facing the truth.
“While the government always refers to previous coup and massacres and claim that they are against coups; banning commemorations to find culprits of events that led to September 12 Coup is a proof that the government is not sincere with its attitude.”
According to official tolls, the incident left at least 111 people killed, hundreds wounded. 210 apartments and 70 offices were stormed. While 804 suspects were tried, only 29 people were executed, 7 received life sentence and 321 defendants were sentenced to prison from 1 to 24 years. (YY/BM)
Published by Bianet