Tensions mounted yesterday in the southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş when an Alevi group was stopped on security grounds while commemorating the 34th anniversary of the 1978 “Maraş Massacre,” when 111 Alevi people were killed. The president of the Alevi-Bektashi federation, Selahattin Özel, spoke out against the ban on the commemoration.
Despite the fact that the Office of the Kahramanmaraş Governor banned demonstrations without any apparent reason, those Alevi organizations that were determined to stage activity were stopped at the Narlı and Pazarcık districts before they could enter Maraş.
Özel said they were determined to conduct an anniversary ceremony at Gar Square and citizens were prevented from coming to Kahramanmaraş from several provinces of Turkey. “We are coming here to commemorate. To mourn for our people who were massacred atrociously 34 years ago, to commemorate them and to lay a carnation for them. However, unfortunately, the government, regretfully considers those who have been massacred as criminals. We can deduce that by [their decision to] not allow us [here] today, it approves of the killings.”
At least 111 people, mainly leftists and members of Turkey’s Alevi community, were massacred in Kahramanmaraş province in 1978 by extreme right-wing militants.