On 8 July 1930, Erciş in Turkey’s eastern city of Van witnessed a mass killing campaign that resulted in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Kurds.
Known as the ‘Zilan Valley Massacre,’ this was one of the bloodiest campaigns against Kurdish people living within the borders of Turkey. Tens of thousands of soldiers surrounded the region and over 40 villages were torched to the ground.
Ninety one years later, journalist İdris Yılmaz has examined and assessed the nature, form and impact of the deadly campaign in a new documentary, ‘The Zilan Massacre (Gelyê Zîlan).’ It will premiere in December.
The documentary not only covers the stories of the Kurds who were slaughtered in 1930, but also of the Armenians and the mass killings that took place in Turkey that targeted the Armenian community in 1915, the director told Artı Gerçek.
Yılmaz says he considers the natural beauty of the Zilan Valley and the incidents that took place leading to the massacre as a matter of social memory, adding that he also worked on reflecting the culture, folklore and natural beauty of the region in the documentary.
The film crew encountered a variety of problems when making the documentary, due to strict security measures that were still ongoing in the vicinity of Zilan Valley.
“When we were shooting the scene on the cemetery of Nazê in the village of Çakırbey, the gendarmerie detained us. Then, they fined us on a charge of ‘unauthorised filming’ of a security zone,” Yılmaz said.
The teaser for the film can be watched on youtube.