State massacres from past to present
- 14:11 18 September 2023
MÊRDÎN - The Republic of Turkey, which was founded on massacres, ended its first century with countless massacres. The Turkish Armed Forces, which carried out many civilian massacres against Kurds from the 20th century to the 21st century, continues to be acquitted despite the ECHR decisions.
After CHP Amed Deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu talked about the massacres committed by the Turkish Armed Forces in Kurdistan in the 90s and condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in a television program in which he participated, the massacres committed by the state with the help of the Turkish Armed Forces were brought to the agenda again. The Minister of Justice announced that the prosecutor's office was given permission to launch an investigation against Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who was subjected to lynching by many groups, including his party, despite expressing judicial decisions.
On this axis, we have compiled the war and humanity crimes committed by the state and the Turkish Armed Forces in Kurdistan from yesterday to today. The massacres, for which the ECHR convicted and awarded compensation to Turkey, have continued since the establishment of the republic.
*One of the first major massacres: Zilan Massacre
The Agri-Zilan Massacre (Geliyê Zîlan), which started three years after the establishment of the Republic, began with the rebellion that included Agirî (Agri) Mountain and its surroundings and Rojhilat between 1926 and 1930. Responding to the resistance of the Kurds who revolted against state oppression by committing war and crimes against humanity, the 7th and 9th Corps of the Turkish Armed Forces massacred thousands of Kurds, including children, the elderly and women, with 80 military aircraft. On 12-13 July 1930, thousands of Kurds who took refuge in Zilan Creek were massacred by 800 to 1,500 soldiers. In the massacre, which was recorded in history as Geliyê Zîlan and Zilan Massacre, although 15 thousand people were reported to have lost their lives according to official records, at least 47 thousand people lost their lives in the massacre. While at least 220 villages were destroyed by the Turkish Armed Forces during the massacre, those who survived the massacre were exiled and subjected to assimilation.
47 thousand people were killed in the massacre with 80 planes
Cumhuriyet newspaper, which reported the massacre with the headline "Cleaning has begun, those in the Zeylan stream have been completely destroyed", noted the following in its headline dated July 16, 1930: "Our planes are bombarding the soldiers very heavily on the hills of Mount Ararat. Mount Ararat is constantly groaning in explosion and fire. Turks' iron eagles are clearing the rebels' accounts. Zilan Creek is filled to the brim with corpses."
The decision to massacre was taken by Mustafa Kemal
The decision for the massacre was taken with the decree law numbered 8692, issued at the meeting of the Council of Ministers on 29 December 1929, chaired by Mustafa Kemal, in which the then Chief of General Staff Fevzi Çakmak and First General Inspector İbrahim Tali Öngören were present.
Families who could not get results from the Turkish judiciary applied to the ECHR
After the massacre, all the property of the Kurds living in the region was confiscated. The villagers, who were affected by the massacre, lost their relatives, were displaced and had their property confiscated, applied to the Erciş Criminal Court of First Instance to get their property back in 1950, but did not receive any results. Thereupon, the families took the file to the ECHR in 2012. The ECHR, which accepted the case, has not yet made a decision for the citizens who want to get their lands back.
After the massacre…
During the Solution Process, a monument was erected in the region where the massacre took place in memory of those who lost their lives in the massacre, but the monument was demolished by the state immediately after the end of the process. Then, the HPP project was started in Zilan stream. During the excavations for the HPP, human bones and skulls were found. Although it is known that there are bodies of those who lost their lives in the massacre, all applications of politicians and lawyers remained inconclusive and no research was carried out on the bones.
*Dersim Massacre, which goes beyond history and memories
It is still possible to see the traces of the Dersim massacre, one of the bloodiest massacres in the history of the Republic, in Dersim today. The Dersim Massacre, which started on March 20, 1937 and ended in December 1938, took place after the rebellions against the assimilation of Dersim, the geography of Kurdistan. In the Dersim massacre, which resulted in the execution of 7 people, including Seyit Rıza and his son, according to official data, 13 thousand 806 people, including women and children, were murdered, while 11 thousand 818 people were exiled. According to official sources, the number of those killed is at least 70 thousand.
Preparation and assimilation reports of the massacre
It is revealed from the reports of the period that massacre and assimilation plans for Dersim were initiated in the 1920s, before the proclamation of the Republic. One of these reports is Hamdi Bey's report dated February 2, 1926. The report includes the following statements: "Dersim is becoming more and more Kurdish, it is becoming idealized, the danger is growing. Dersim's government is a sore spot for the Republic. Preventing the possibility of a definitive action on this sore is an obligatory ritual for the sake of the country's salvation." Fevzi Çakmak said in his report: “Do not recruit the people of Dersim to the army, if they learn how to use weapons and war tactics, they will attack us. He reports the massacre in advance with the following statement: "The people of Dersim cannot be won by being flattered, the intervention of the armed forces will have a greater impact on Dersimli. The most emphasized points in the reports are the relations of tribes with each other, which tribe speaks which language, tribal structures, traditions and customs of Dersim people, geographical borders and influence of tribes and strategic points of Dersim. İsmet İnönü prepared a report called "Eastern Travel Report" after his trip to the region in 1935. On December 10, 1936, the then Minister of Economy, Celal Bayar, prepared an eastern report and stated that "the eastern provinces were not sufficiently under state control, there were great economic difficulties in the region, and the previous governments could only influence the people in the region through the lords and sheikhs." Again, within the framework of the reported and foreseen assimilation policies, the "Law on the Administration of Tunceli Province" numbered 2884 was enacted on 25 December 1935, and the name of Dersim was changed to Tunceli in official records on 4 January 1936.
Lost girls of Dersim
Thousands of children and women, whose fate is not yet known in the Dersim Massacre, where thousands of Kurds were massacred, are known to the public as the "lost girls of Dersim.” In addition to the information that these children were recruited in dormitories, it is known that there are hundreds of children whose fate is unknown.
After the massacre, the only apology comes from Sezgin Tanrıkulu
Although the Prime Minister of the time, Tayyip Erdoğan, said in a speech on November 23, 2011, "If there is an apology to be made on behalf of the state, if there is such a literature, I would like to apologize" for the people of Dersim, who were left face to face with torture and hunger in addition to the massacre, but no official apology was made. For the Dersim Massacre, which has been denied politically for years, the first and only person to apologize on behalf of CHP, which is also the perpetrator of the massacre, was Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who was subjected to lynching attempts today. Sezgin Tanrıkulu apologized on November 12, 2014, saying, "On behalf of the CHP, I apologize to everyone who felt pain, to every person who died, to every person who was exiled."
*Zini Gegi Massacre
On August 6, 1938, 95 villagers were shot and killed by the Turkish Armed Forces in Zini Gekendi of Kılıçkaya Village in Erzîngan (Erzincan), as a part of the Dersim massacre. Then, the survivors were exiled to Balıkesir and Keşan. Families of the murdered people applied to the Erzincan Chief Public Prosecutor's Office to examine the mass grave on September 9, 2011, but the Erzincan Prosecutor dismissed the application on September 28, 2011, claiming that the massacre was "an incident related to the public order problem" and stating that it could not be considered genocide and that it had entered the statute of limitations. Thereupon, an application was made to the ECHR in 2012, but the ECHR has not yet decided on the application.
Dark tone of darkness 90's
The massacres carried out by the state army, the Turkish Armed Forces, in the first years of the Republic remained unchanged and became darker in the 90s. In the 90s, with the introduction of factors such as JİTEM as well as the TSK, villages were burned in Kurdistan using the PKK as an excuse, countless massacres, exiles and unsolved murders took place. In addition to the oppression outside, prisons also turned into torture centers and massacres were carried out there.
*Digor Massacre: 17 dead, including 5 children
When the village guard system began to be imposed on the Kurds in Kurdistan in the Têgor (Digor) district of Qars, thousands of villagers who wanted to march to say "stop" to these impositions, house raids and torture policies came together in Nexşan (Kocaköy) village on the morning of August 14, 1993. Thousands of people from 20 villages of the district wanted to march towards Têgor in the morning. The crowd, including children, the elderly, women and young people, was blocked by special operations police, soldiers and armed civilians 2 kilometers from Têgor. Despite this, fire was opened on the crowd who said they would not give up the march. As a result of the spread fire, 17 people, including 5 children, died at the scene and more than 200 people were injured.
ECHR convicted Turkey
In the investigation carried out after the massacre, only 8 police officers were found responsible. Years later, a lawsuit was filed against these police officers for "deliberate murder" and "attempted intentional murder". After the court did not make a decision during the trial, which lasted a total of 11 years, Tahir Elçi, the lawyer of the case, took the case to the ECHR in 2004 on the grounds of "Long trial", "Lack of effective investigation" and "Violation of the right to life". After the case was accepted by the ECHR, Turkey decided the case in 2006 and acquitted 8 police officers on the grounds of "self-defense". Although the police who sent a written defense to the court claimed that they were opened fire with rocket launchers from the crowd, the investigation found no evidence of a rocket launcher attack at the scene. The 2nd Chamber of the ECHR, which announced its decision immediately after Turkey's acquittal decision, sentenced Turkey to pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.
*Lice Massacre: Violation of right to life from ECHR to Turkey
14 people were killed in the massacre that took place during the raid carried out by the Turkish Armed Forces on October 22, 1993, in the Lîce district of Amed. Although the incident in which Gendarmerie Regional Commander Bahtiyar Aydın died was tried to be blamed on the PKK, it was later proven that the PKK had nothing to do with the incident. The case filed regarding the massacre was dropped after 30 years in May 2023, citing the death of the only defendant soldier on trial. Announcing its decision on the case brought to the ECHR on June 15, 2001, the ECHR sentenced Turkey to pay 2.5 million pounds to the victims with the decision of "violation of the right to life".
***The bombing of Kuşkonar and Koçağılı villages in Şırnak in 1994 and the loss of 11 people in the rural area of Amed's Pasur district brought to the agenda. The lawsuits filed regarding both violations of life continued for years, and eventually the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convicted Turkey and ordered compensation to be paid to the victims. The ECHR decided to pay compensation of 2 million 305 thousand Euros for the 38 civilians who died in the air attack on Kuşkonar and Koçağılı villages on 25-26 March 1994, and approximately 600 thousand pounds to the applicants for the 11 people lost in Kulp.
*Kuşkonar and Koçağılı massacre
In the massacre that took place in Kuşkonar and Koçağılı villages of Şirnex on 25-26 March 1994, two villages were bombed from the air by the Turkish Armed Forces. As a result of the bombing, 38 people were killed and 13 people were injured. Only those who threw themselves into the stables survived the massacre. In the decision of non-jurisdiction given by the Şırnak Public Prosecutor dated 7 April 1994, the Turkish Armed Forces' fault was tried to be blamed on the PKK. However, the Diyarbakır State Security Court prosecutor's office, to which the file was sent, stated that there was no evidence that the attack was carried out by the PKK, and sent the file back to the Şırnak Chief Public Prosecutor's Office in 1996. However, Şırnak Chief Public Prosecutor's Office was insistent.
It is documented that the Turkish Armed Forces carried out the massacre
Şırnak Public Prosecutor's Office sent the file to the Specially Authorized Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office in 2007. The prosecutor's office wrote to the Civil Aviation Department and requested the landing and take-off documents of the planes from Malatya Erhaç 7th Main Jet Command and Diyarbakır 2nd Air Force Command in 1994. In the response sent to the prosecutor's office by the Civil Aviation Department, it was stated that "it was determined that two flights were carried out by the Air Force Command in 1994 in the west and northwest of Şırnak province, 10 NM (18.55 km)." The document titled 'Tasks' sent by Civil Aviation included the following information about the flight on the day of the explosion: "Two flights took place, each with two planes, started at 10.24 and 11.20, the bombing took place at around 11.00 and 11.20, and the planes were loaded with bombs.It is understood that one of the flights was made by two F-4s and the other flight was made by two F-16 fighter planes."
The file was closed due to statute of limitations
In the decision, it was stated that the statement of Lieutenant General Hasan Kundakçı, the Public Order Regional Commander at the time, was also consulted, and since some of the suspects were generals, the file was sent to the General Staff Military Prosecutor's Office with a decision of lack of jurisdiction. The date the file was sent was close to the statute of limitations. The General Staff Military Prosecutor's Office closed the file on April 9, 2014, on the grounds of statute of limitations. Thereupon, Tahir Elçi, the lawyer of the victims, applied to the Constitutional Court. In its decision in 2020, 26 years after the bombing, the Constitutional Court accepted that warplanes bombed villages. Accepting that the villages were bombed by planes, the Constitutional Court stated that there was no further action to be taken because the statute of limitations had expired.
ECHR convicted Turkey
Announcing its decision on the application made to the ECHR regarding the massacre, the ECHR convicted Turkey of "violating the right to life" and ordered the payment of 2 million 305 thousand Euros in compensation for the 38 people murdered.
Tomorrow: Massacres continue from Roboski to Wan.