An Unattended Wound: ‘Maraş Massacre on its 37th Anniversary’
An Unattended Wound: ‘Maraş Massacre on its 37th Anniversary’
Maraş Massacre started after a group attacked the buildings of the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (Republican People’s Party) (CHP), the Tüm Öğretmenler Birleşme ve Dayanışma Derneği (Association of All Teachers’ Union and Solidarity) (TÖB-DER) and the Posta Telgraf Telefon (Turkish Post) (PTT) following the rumour that ‘Alevis and leftists were responsible’ for the bombing attack on Çiçek Theatre in Maraş on December 19th, 1978. Members of the Nationalist front in the city (Adalet Partisi (Justice Party) (AP) – Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi (Nationalist Movement Party) (MHP) – Milli Selamet Partisi (National Salvation Party) (MSP)) spread the word that two leftist teachers, namely Hacı Çolak and Mustafa Yüzbaşıoğlu, blew the bombs. Soon after the two leftist teachers (one Alevi and one Sunni) were murdered on their way home. A completely coordinated organised violence wave was triggered in a very short period of time.
What happened at Maraş Massacre cannot be diminished by calling it names like ‘Maraş Incidents.’ It was a chain of planned murders ‘considered obligatory’ (Turkish idiom) executed for a week between 19 and 26 December. The houses of targeted families were marked weeks before. Fascist groups attacking these houses sadistically slaughtered men and women inside by torturing them regardless of their age, sex or any other humanitarian notion whatsoever. The rehearsal of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror’s violent actions in the Middle East which have become a brand of fear could mostly be observed in Maraş massacre 37 years ago.
Officially 111 people, and according to unofficial resources, over 150 people were slaughtered. 176 people were injured during these attacks. Martial law was proclaimed for 13 cities after the clashes which lasted till 26th December, over the commoving of Alevi-Sunni and leftist-rightist conflicts. Judicial processes lasted until 1988 but the Supreme Court reversed judgments for death sentence and lifelong imprisonment given that three attorneys of the massacre victims were murdered by unknown assailants. Most of the people were released during the new judicial process after the reversal of judgment and some of them got away with light sentences.
After such a massacre, Maraş has lost its ‘hero (kahraman)’ character which epic tales of bravery were written upon during the Turkish War of Independence. It is also ‘the-welter-of-blood (kanrevan)’ Maraş, with the blood of defenceless innocent people everywhere being perfidiously slaughtered. It is ‘Black’ Maraş, which, after all the doom it has been through, rewarded killers with various positions and had them over as honorary guests of state officials. Maraş is now remembered with many names of agony by Alevis who went through all those horrible experiences. Now all souls left alive have this never to be attended wound, so live in their memories due to the massacre, pain, violence and sorrow.
According to the shallow mind-set of the killers which legitimises the massacre, the slaughtered Alevis and leftists were infidels, before anything else. Because they had never fasted, prayed or been on pilgrimage. So their sins are worse than crimes like disembowelling pregnant women or suffocating babies in crib! Their belief that they claimed jihad for does not stop them from killing those who were god’s creation. Because leftists and Alevis were infidels but they are faithful, believers, they are so-called Muslims!
Before the massacre, following the two leftist teachers’ funeral where people cried for this unfortunate fate, even the presence of the diseased in the emptiness is too much. Of course, an infidel and a believer to lie on the same ground, or even breathe the same air is not acceptable. It is time that all ‘Alevis and leftists’ in town will be punished and pay for it, and they did, before long.
The awful depth of the social hysteria is obvious from the Friday preach of Bağlarbaşı Imam Mustafa Yıldız: ‘It does not make a pilgrim only with fast and praying, if you kill an Alevi, you are as good as if you have been on pilgrimage five times. All our Muslim brothers should riot against the government and communists, infidels; Alevi and Sunni infidels around us should be wiped out.’
These masses left their temple and pretended Azrael in front of the Alevi houses that were marked before, crying ‘Allah-u Ekber,’ and did not say that it is ‘Allah’ who also created those defenceless innocent people there. With the beginning of the massacre, the entrances and exits to the city centre were closed. Leftists and Alevis were trapped in the city almost like preys, as cruel religious fascists hunted these frightened poor people to get their share on heaven. And then, when people from neighbouring cities, districts and villages heard what happened and came to Maraş to protect whoever is left alive from the massacre, their vehicles were not allowed into the city. The state, which failed its presence during the violent massacre in town, only showed up at the city entrance just like demons of hell.
As Alevis’ and leftists’ houses turn into slaughter houses, the country was wrapped with a disturbing silence. Even Ankara, hears this silent scream only after days. The military could only make it on time to grab bodies about to rot away. There is no difference of massacre to the mother who died holding her baby in her arms, to a child with her baby doll in her hands, and to the granny who was thrown into the toilet pit after her eyes scratched out.
Reckless is religious fascism, got to do what it targets eventually. If they think you deserve to go to hell, they do not leave it to afterlife. What happened in Maraş those days can only be explained as the rehearsal of hell anyway! Virtuous notions like humanity, mercy and conscience got all naked and silent in Maraş as if they never existed since Adam and Eve! Zealots vomit the seeds of hatred inside them! Bodies of the innocent without a breath to shrink in the savages’ shadow! And all that is left behind is cries at ears after those who were lost, lost hopes, and destroyed lives. Without its fame, but bad fate, Maraş is doomed to the creepy breeze of those silent screams which will never leave hearts.
After exactly 37 years over the massacre, the fact that there has been no confrontation and the relatives of the people who were slaughtered are not allowed to go to the city for commemorating make the pain even worse. Such that, the governorship implies that they are not capable of securing the lives of these people, proving that a 37-year-old massacre reflex still remains. So the ruling power which is trying to oppress and forbid agony to cover the massacre, is feeding the prejudices of people who develop slaughtering reflex when the victims of the massacre want to show their presence. In fact, these facts should be confronted before anything else to prevent similar massacres. It is the only way to stop various ISIS mind-sets (those called by different names and legitimise massacre) which is feared to be fired any time.
Özcan Öğüt, PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science, Ankara University & Department of Social Work, Hacettepe University, Ankara
Özcan Öğüt, “An Unattended Wound: ‘Maraş Massacre on its 37th Anniversary’″, Independent Turkey, 28 December 2015, London: Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey). Original link: http://researchturkey.org/?p=10309