A march was organised by the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association in Sivas, Turkey, on the 30th anniversary of the Sivas massacre. The people marched from the association’s premises to the site of the Madımak Hotel, where 35 people were massacred on 2 July 1993.
The Sivas massacre, also known as the Madımak massacre, occurred during the Pir Sultan Abdal Festivities, a cultural event involving Alevi intellectuals and artists. A crowd of approximately 15,000 people gathered outside the Madımak Hotel, where the event was taking place.
A group of Islamist extremists who believed that the those takng part were promoting activities against their beliefs set the hotel on fire while a mob outside the hotel prevented occupants from escaping, resulting in 35 people being massacred, including intellectuals, artists and two hotel staff, to the applause of the mob. Two of the assailants also died.
Over the years, the trials related to the Sivas Massacre have been marred by judicial scandals and controversies and criticised for failing to bring all the perpetrators to justice. Despite the large number of people involved in the attack, only a small fraction ever faced prosecution. A now looming matter for concern is the risk of the expiry of the statute of limitations, which has already allowed some fugitives to evade punishment as a result of court decisions dismissing their cases. The exact number of fugitives benefiting from this loophole remains uncertain. Additionally, the fate of three fugitive defendants currently on trial hangs in the balance, as their cases may lapse if the court fails to acknowledge the acts as “crimes against humanity” within the 30-year statute of limitations. Nine further individuals who have been isuued finalised sentences in absentia and to whom the statute of limitations is also applicable, are resident abroad.
The event remains a painful and tragic chapter in Turkey’s history, highlighting issues of religious intolerance and the need for justice and accountability. The anniversary of the Sivas massacre is commemorated each year, serving as a reminder of the lives lost and the importance of promoting tolerance, inclusivity and respect for different beliefs and cultures.