Thursday, March 15, 2012


I am going to post several articles bleow which explain this travesty better than I ever could.  In a country which refuses to accept that a genocide occurred against the Armenian people at their hands, the Turkish judiciary manages which the help of the police, the state government, and the STATE to find a way around an obvious massacre.  

People are angry.  Angry enough that Turkish cops turned water cannons on them.  Interesting, because their fellow officers made this 1993 massacre by fire possible back.

Disgusting story.

The following posts are from Storyful, Hyrriyat Daily News (2), Today's Zalman

Outcry as Turkey drops Sivas massacre prosecutions

The case against four people accused in connection with an infamous 1993 massacre in Turkey was dropped on Tuesday amid protests outside Ankara’s 11th High Criminal Court. The court agreed with defence lawyers that the statute of limitations meant the case had expired. The Sivas massacre took place on July 2, 1993 when a mob of radical Islamists burned down a hotel where those attending a cultural festival for the country’s Alevi community had gathered. Some 37 people died, most of them Alevi intellectuals. Turkey’s 15-20 million strong Alevi community practice a branch of Shia Islam, also incorporating many elements of Anatolian folk culture. The Hanafite school of Sunni Islam dominates in the country. Among the artists, writers and musicians who gathered at the Otel Madımak to celebrate 16th century Alevi poet Pir Sultan Abdal on the day of the massacre was Aziz Nesin, who had translated and published extracts from Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, enraging fundamentalists. Our lead video shows clashes outside the courthouse after the cases were dropped.
The start of the confrontation with police can be seen in this video, as news of the court’s decision filtered through:
This tweet translates as, “I am ashamed of my country”. The hashtag translates as “The Sivas massacre will not time out”:

Sivas: A tale of painful indifference


I visited Sivas in 2008, 15 years after the massacre at the Madımak Hotel. I vividly remember the eerie feeling that came over me as I was walking by the site of arguably one of the most traumatic events in recent Turkish history. The building was back then a fully functional hotel.

There was a kebab house on the ground floor, which was frequented by the locals who had the stomach for it. What scared me the most was not the traumatic story of the place but rather the blatant indifference in the air. There was not a single monument, a single reminder of the event itself in sight; quite to the contrary, the hotel had a feeling of complete normalcy, as if nothing extraordinary happened there.

I could not bear the thought of people staying there overnight, fully knowing that 35 people had perished in that very building. Even worse, there were people who could still enjoy a kebab on that very spot.

This was the place where 35 people were burned alive on July 2, 1993. The participants of the Pir Sultan Abdal Festival, which was hosted by the Alevi community, were staying at the Madımak Hotel.

The guests included intellectuals, poets, artists and students. The building and those inside were set on fire by an angry mob of 15,000 people. This was not a simple act of fury. The whole event escalated slowly and lasted for over eight hours. The hotel was literally taken under siege, the mob shouting death threats for hours as the security forces watched passively. At the end of the day, the hotel was torched, 35 people died, including nine teenagers. The survivors’ accounts of the day tell us an even more tragic story.

It appears that the whole event could have been stopped if the government had intervened at the right time. But the state officials at the time were indifferent. And that indifference caused 35 people to perish.
In 2010, after constant demands from the Alevi community and its allies, the government decided to purchase the building and turn it into a cultural center.

The Alevi community wanted a museum of remembrance, to make sure such a tragedy would not happen again. Turning the space into a cultural center was not a perfect solution, but it was sure better than a hotel and much better than a kebap house. The opening day of this cultural center became yet another event that inflicted pain on the families of those who were killed. There was a remembrance plaque hung at the entrance.

On that single reminder of the tragedy that happened there, the names of those who were burned alive were written together with two of their attackers, who had also died as they were torching the place, in alphabetical order, so that the list started with the name of one of the assailants. This gesture is akin to including the names of Nazisoldiers on a Holocaust memorial plaque. The plaque still welcomes the visitors, and reminds us, among other things, the indifference of the state to the pain of those who lost their loved ones there.

On the March 13, 2012, I was sitting in a courtroom filled with the wives, daughters, sons, fathers and mothers of those who were burned alive at the Madımak Hotel. The statute of limitations in the case was to end on that day. To be honest, the crowd in that courtroom did not have great expectations. We knew that a few days ago, a Republican People’s Party (CHP) bill which would have lifted the statute of limitations on such crimes against humanity was rejected by the Justice and Development Party (AKP). We were simply there to show our stance.

The case was dropped due to the tolling of the statute of limitations. The courtroom emptied slowly, and the families joined the people outside the courthouse who were there to show their support. Their protest was a peaceful but a painful one. The police, which didn’t dare intervene during the events of 1993 in Sivas, started tear-gassing the crowd.

As those who lost their loved ones in the Sivas massacre were being attacked by the police, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan appeared on TV. He said, quite calmly, in regards to the court’s invocation of the statute of limitations in the Sivas massacre: “Let it be auspicious for our nation.”

Dr Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir is a lecturer in the graduate program of Architectural Histroy in the Middle East Technical University.
Blood-spattered calendar


The Sivas massacre of July 2, 1993 will drop from the agenda of the judiciary tomorrow (today). According to the acting president of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), İbrahim Okur, “The problem in the Sivas case stems from justice arriving late and from security forces, who do not catch [the suspects] in time.”

The same judiciary that prosecutes those who wear a poshu scarf, carry placards or sell concert tickets, could not locate an organized terror crime in the Sivas case.

The security of this country could not catch a defendant standing trial with a request for capital punishment for almost 20 years, half of this period coinciding with this government’s term.

One of those they could not catch died in his home in Sivas. I don’t know how many meters his house was from the police station. One of those they could not catch got married in Kangal district of Sivas, 14 days after Madımak was burned and poets and folk artists were killed.

Another runaway defendant, İhsan Çakmak - despite the fact that he was on trial, prosecuted with capital punishment and was a wanted man - got married, did his military service, registered his child and received his driver’s license.

After tomorrow (today), the case against Çakmak will be dropped. Who knows, maybe he will appear on a TV talk show, issue a press release or join a talent show to become a semi-famous contestant.

Irresponsibility and indifference are so widespread and so general in the Sivas massacre case that no one even thinks about identifying who is responsible for this situation in the judiciary and the security forces. Irresponsibility becomes anonymous. This system wants us to continue living our lives as if the Sivas massacre never happened.

The Sivas case, even though some perpetrators were sentenced, has remained in the dark.
The reason I reach this opinion is not because of a few fugitives who will be saved by the statute of limitations tomorrow (today). This is only one sign that the judiciary and the security forces did not take the Sivas massacre seriously and they are exerting an effort to cover it up.

The Sivas massacre has not been illuminated. For this reason, it will continue to serve as a snack at political debates. One day newspapers will have headlines “It was the PKKwho torched Madımak,” the next day they will write Sivas’ murderer was Ergenekon. The responsibility will be put on ghosts and the nameless bad. Sometimes it will be the PKK, sometimes Ergenekon and sometimes political Islamist masses will be blamed. But no concrete proof will be presented for any of them and Sivas will slowly disappear below the smoke choking it.

This case, which has not been able to reach material fact, has paved the way for Sivas to be forgotten and only be remembered when there was a need for instrumentalization.
Revoking the statute of limitations was one way to reveal the hidden side of the Sivas massacre. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has rejected such a proposal. 

Another way is setting up a research commission; it is apparent that the AKP systematically refuses proposals for research commissions related to political murders. The executive only made a Madımak Museum (in which the names of murderers were also included), and made a kindergarten in rooms where people choked to death.

The legislative, executive and judiciary, when Sivas is in question, have adopted the principle of union of powers.

Tomorrow (today) is March 13. The Sivas case will sink before our eyes like a bilged heavy and old ship.

Tomorrow (today) is March 13. It is also the anniversary of the Gazi Neighborhood massacre, another case that reached no result.

A murder for each day, a massacre for each day.

This country has a calendar where each day of its year is bloody. The names of those who smear that blood, and who do not clean it will be written in history books. You may not be able to see it, but your children and your grandchildren will read your names in those books. I wish you a long life so that you may see that day.

Özgür Mumcu is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece was published March 12. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.


Sivas massacre case dropped on statute of limitations

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A group protesting the verdict to drop the Sivas case clashed with police on Tuesday in front of the Ankara Courthouse. Police had to use tear gas to disperse the group. Some police officers were wounded. (Photo: AA)
A nearly two-decade trial regarding the deaths of 33 artists and intellectuals, along with two hotel workers and two assailants, in 1993 was dropped on Tuesday because the statute of limitations had run out, amid a protesting crowd in front of the courthouse.

On July 2, 1993, 33 people who were attending a conference on Alevi poet Pir Sultan Abdal died at the Madımak Hotel in Sivas when an angry mob set the building on fire. The ruling was announced by the Ankara 11th High Criminal Court after lawyers for the co-plaintiffs delivered their closing statements in Tuesday's hearing. Angry crowds outside the courthouse protested. Riot police intervened rather forcefully, using tear gas to disperse the crowd. Some in the crowd dismantled the cobblestones on the street and used them to attack police officers. When some groups wanted to march to Kızılay Square in protest, police used water cannons on the demonstrators to stop them. Some of the protestors were seen vandalizing bus stops, traffic lights and billboards. At least one press member, Milliyet photographer Serdar Özsoy, was injured during the incidents, which quickly turned into clashes between protestors and the police.

Some passersby who wanted to flee the scene to escape the tear gas were denied entry onto a public bus by the bus driver. Clashes between the police and protestors in front of the building lasted for three hours before the crowd could be effectively dispersed.
The court said the public cases against suspects Cafer Erçakmak and Yılmaz Bağ were dropped due to the fact that the two defendants had died, while the cases against Şevket Erdoğan, Köksal Koçak, İhsan Çakmak, Hakan Karaca and Necmi Karaömeroğlu were dropped on the grounds that too much time has passed. Presiding Judge Dündar Örsdemir, reading the verdict, said he agreed with arguments that statutes of limitations should not apply to crimes against humanity but that the offenders were not public or civil agencies. “Hence the decision to drop the cases,” he said.

Some deputies who had followed the trial as well as relatives of those who died in the massacre were among the angry crowds outside the court building.

Şenal Sarıhan, a co-plaintiff lawyer, said they would be appealing the ruling. She noted that the judge’s statement that the Sivas massacre indeed constituted a “crime against humanity” was an important development. “We will continue our legal struggle. We waited hopefully for 19 years that they would be punished by the law. We didn’t respond to them by burning down hotels or throwing stones like they did,” she said.

Zeynep Altıok Akatlı, daughter of the poet Metin Altıok who died at Madımak, tweeted her feelings from the courtroom seconds after the ruling was announced. “Applying statute of limitations because they are not public officials. Case dropped. Murderers free.” In her next tweet she wrote, “I was expecting this verdict, but I can’t get up from my seat.”

Thousands were outside the courtroom, including Rakel Dink, the wife of journalist Hrant Dink, who was assassinated outside his newspaper’s office in 2007.

Speaking to the press after the announcement, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Sezgin Tanrıkulu said, “We see this as a disgrace for the judiciary, and we condemn it.” CHP Denizli deputy İlhan Cihaner said, “The verdict is illegal.”

Gültan Kışanak, a deputy chairwoman of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) said, “The verdict doesn’t help heal the wounds in hearts. Someone might have closed this case, but those who protect democracy will not allow this case to be closed.”

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said the verdict was a disgrace for Turkey, while speaking at his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday. “In the Middle Ages, people were burned at the stake. People were burned [in Sivas]. Some of those who killed got married, served in the military, had weddings, even sent their children to school, but they were never found, never captured,” he said, referring to some of the suspects who, it later emerged, engaged in numerous official transactions -- including completing their compulsory military service and getting married -- and continue on with their lives without any difficulties.
Kılıçdaroğlu said the verdict was unacceptable, and he accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) of having protected the offenders. “AK Party deputies were [the defendants’] lawyers,” he said. Some of the lawyers who defended the suspects are currently in Parliament as AK Party deputies.

“I wonder if Mr. Prime Minister will say, ‘Oh this is great. It was dropped on the statute of limitations, and so we are finally rid of this trouble.’ I am confident that this is what he is thinking.”

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