The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), a Kurdish umbrella organisation, has commemorated victims of attacks on Kurdish and Alevi communities occurring during the month of December, including hundreds who perished in the Maraş (Mereş) Pogrom between 19 – 26 December 1978, three Kurdish activists killed in the 23 December 2022 Paris shooting, and 30 political prisoners left dead after a series of raids in Turkish prisons on 19 December 2000.
In their statement, the KCK issued a strong condemnation of these events, criticising the Turkish state for a historical pattern of violence and oppression, with a particular focus on the Kurdish people. They highlighted the Maraş Pogrom, executed as part of the ‘Eastern Reform Plan’, as an act aimed at displacing the Kurdish-Alevi community from Western Kurdistan.
The Maraş Massacre of 1978, also known as the Maraş Pogrom, occurred in the city of Kahramanmaraş, Turkey. It primarily targeted leftists and the Alevi Kurdish community. Approximately 105 to 185 people were massacred, with 1,000 to 3,000 injured. The attack was carried out by the neo-fascist Grey Wolves, a group affiliated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), part of Turkey’s ruling alliance.
The KCK also focused on the Paris attack, termed the ‘Second Paris Massacre’, which occurred on 23 December 2022. Three prominent Kurdish figures, Evin Goyi, Mir Perwer, and Abdürrahman Kızıl were killed in the armed attack on a Kurdish cultural centre in the 10th arrondissement of Paris.
Despite a police presence following the Second Paris Massacre, a subsequent attack was carried out on 3 March 2023. French journalist Guillaume Perrier said that the suspect under custody for the 3 March attack told French authorities that he formerly worked for Turkish paramilitary group SADAT, known as Turkey’s Wagner.
The organisation accused the Turkish state of executing such acts with NATO support, and called on France to disclose the truth behind the Paris incidents.
Additionally, the statement addressed a series of deadly prison incidents occurring in 2000, criticising the Turkish state for alleged inhumanity against political prisoners. It spotlighted ongoing challenges faced by political prisoners, including the isolation of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, urging stronger support for campaigns advocating for their rights and a democratic resolution to the Kurdish issue.
The prison raids in Turkey, cynically named ‘Operation Return to Life’ by the Turkish authorities, involved over 10,000 members of the Turkish security forces conducting coordinated raids on twenty prisons on 19 December 2000. While the declared aim was to halt hunger strikes, the real objective was to transfer the political prisoners to new F-type High Security Closed Institutions. The operation left 30 prisoners dead. Subsequently, 40 more individuals involved in the hunger strikes also died, raising the death toll to 72, with additional reports of torture and severe injuries.
The F-type prisons faced criticism for not ensuring prisoners’ fundamental rights, such as association and access to legal representation, and increasing their vulnerability to mistreatment. Operation Return to Life and the new prison system were widely condemned for violating international standards.