The 26th commemorative march of the massacre of Turkey’s Alevi community in the Madimak Hotel was attended by thousands of people in the central province of Sivas, a T24 news report said.
On July 2, 1993, a total of 33 intellectuals, mostly Alevis, and two hotel personnel were murdered by a mob of Islamic extremists when they set the Madimak Hotel, where a convention was being held, on fire.
The attack targeted Turkey’s Alevi writer Aziz Nesin, who translated Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses,” which included sections deemed offensive to Islam.
Although Nesin survived the attack, he was unable to cope with the shock of the
massacre until he died from a heart attack two years later.
The crowds on Tuesday commemorated the incident in Sivas and in a number of
other cities that included Istanbul and capital Ankara on its 26th anniversary, chanting slogans “We will hold those responsible to account for Sivas [attack],” and “shoulder to shoulder against fascism.”
In Sivas, a group reportedly gathered in front of a cemevi, an Alevi place of worship, belonging to the Haci Bektas Veli Anadolu Cultural Centre and another one convened in front of the Sivas branch of the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Center (PSAKD), which organized the event.
The two groups met in Fidanlik avenue and marched together towards the Madimak Hotel, the site of the 1993 killings that now serves as a cultural center, with the presence of security forces.
The crowd, which consisted of representatives from different Alevi groups and MP’s from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro- Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), shouted slogans with a joint demand that Madimak Hotel be turned into a “museum of shame.”
Sevin Coskun, HDP’s deputy for Mus province, on Tuesday submitted a parliamentary question about the 1993’s attack on Alevis to be answered by Vice President Fuat Oktay.
Coskun asked: “How many suspects of the attack are currently sought by police and have not faced trial yet?” and “Why were not all of those responsible for the Sivas massacre punished even after 26 years?”
Temel Karamollaoglu, the current leader of Islamist opposition Felicity Party
(SP), the mayor of Sivas during the massacre, condemned the attack on social media.
“The pain of this incident will not subside, despite the years gone by,” he said via Twitter on Tuesday.
Speaking to the press, CHP’s Deputy Chair Veli Agbaba underlined the attack was a crime against humanity.
“This massacre targeted Turkey’s enlightenment, art, and culture. It’s the revenge [of extremists] for Turkey’s Republican regime.”
Gulistan Kilic Kocyigit, HDP’s co-spokesperson, and Mus deputy also said in a statement those responsible for the attack should answer for what they did.
“This is the first step required by democracy and of being human. We are here for 26 years and we will hold those responsible to account. They will answer for the massacre in fair courts and we will follow it resolutely,” Kocyigit vowed.