Tunceli (Dersim) Nazimiye District Governor Uğur Tutkan threatened the head of the Düzgün Baba Cemevi Sinan Kırmızıçiçek, who had criticised the high energy bills, and in particular the 60,000 lira energy bill owed by the Alevi association. The district governor posed on his social media with armed people and security forces outside the Cemevi (Alevi Meeting House), saying: “We will teach them the power of the state.”
Alevis are the largest religious minority in Turkey and perform their religious ceremonies, not in mosques, but in cemevi (pronounced jemevi, literally a house or a place of gathering). For years, Alevis have been calling for the cemevi to be officially recognised as a place of worship in Turkey.
Alevi federations in Turkey are condemning high energy bills demanded from Alevi Meeting Houses as a result of their “commercial user” status.
Alevi federation head Celal Fırat complained that the cemevi was asked to pay 30,000 liras for its electricity use just for a month. “Come and cut off our electricity. Our cemevis are not business premises, they are our places of worship,” Celal Fırat said on Twitter.
Alevi Dernekleri Federasyonun bileşenleri olarak, elektrik faturalarını ÖDEMEME kararı aldık,Çarşamba günü mahkemelere toplu olarak başvuracağız.
Eşit yurttaşlık istiyoruz !
Buyrun gelin elektriğimizi kesin.
CEMEVLERİMİZ TİCARETHANE DEĞİL,İBADETHANEMİZDİR. pic.twitter.com/zhups2PfX6
— Celal Fırat (@CelalFrt) February 7, 2022
The head of the Düzgün Baba Cemevi Sinan Kırmızıçiçek also condemned the high power bills, saying that 60,000 liras for the Cemevi in three years is a “violation of right to religion” and “discrimination”.
After the statements of Kırmızıçiçek, Nazimiye District Governor Uğur Tutkan posed in front of the “Düzgün Baba Cemevi” with gunmen/security forces and threatened Cemevi’s administrators. District Governor Tutkan threatened the head of the Cemevi by saying on Twitter: “We will teach you the power of our state.”
Democratic Alevis Association (DAD) Co-Chair Musa Kulu reacted to the governor’s threats toward Cemevi.
“This opression has been going on for almost two years. He comes here, fines and argues. What disturbs the governor is that thousands of people came for this sacred place to visit every year. Their mentality cannot accept it.”
“If the governor’s purpose was a public utility, he could not come here with armed. However, he shared the photo saying that “we will show the power of the state. Taking this kind of photograph in a sacred place and worship where people come to pray means “I will destroy you”, said DAD Co-chair Musa Kulu.