Several rebellions occurred across the Kurdish populated regions in Turkey’s early Republican Era during the establishment of the new ‘nation state’. Kurdish cultural and political identity in the reion were assimilated, suppressed and eradicated of by means of martial laws, mass population transfers and legal prohibitions, and this has continued throughout the whole of the history of the Republic.
Things happened in 1937 in Dersim in southeast Turkey that have become poignant symbols in Kurdish historical memory.
According to official state data, 13,160 people were killed and 11,818 people were exiled to western provinces of the country. However, local sources reveal that that the numbers are far higher, and that in fact around 70,000 people were massacred, including women and children.
Alevi Zaza and Kurdish political and religious figure Seyit Rıza became a prominent leader of the Dersim uprising of 1935-1938. Seyit Rıza and five of his friends were hanged on 15 November 1937 during the suppression of the uprising.
What specifically happened to the dead bodies of Seyit Rıza and his friends is a disputed issue, and is still an official secret today. They were buried in an unknown place, and while some believe that the bodies were burnt, others say not.
In 2006, the grandchildren of Seyit Rıza appealed to state authorities to reveal the place of the grave of their grandfather, but to date they have not received any response.
Posters hung on billboards in Dersim for the 84th anniversary of the execution of Seyit Rıza and his friends were removed yesterday, 11 November, on the decision of the prosecution, reported MA.
The billboards said, ”Reveal the burial places!”, referring to the burial sites of Seyid Rıza and his friends. The posters removed were quickly replaced by advertisements for a private nursing home, according to Pirha.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has also released a statement for the 84th year of the Dersim Massacre. HDP MP Zeynel Özen brought the issue to the parliament, demanding that documents in the state archives be opened and the location of the burial places of Seyit Rıza and his friends be revealed.