Dersim is once again on the agenda. When Onur Öymen, a former Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy, speaking in Parliament on Nov. 10, 2009, asked, "Didn't mothers cry in Dersim?" this really shocked Turkey. We were all alarmed. "What is this Dersim issue?" It was a subject matter that even those fond of historical studies had forgotten or skipped.
Then, we understood that what the official textbooks tended to brush away as a "revolt" was actually a project for creating uniform citizens. The ruling elite of the republic used to see themselves as guardians and defined two enemies of their guardianship system: reactionaries and separatists. They didn't want people who identified themselves as religious, Kurdish or Alevi. The Kızılbaş residents of Dersim (now Tunceli) who were both Kurdish and Alevi were the real villains of peace. It would have been impossible to make them conform to the system "with love." Rather, they had to be uprooted.
These controversies that have recently returned to the forefront have allowed many previously unknown facts to surface. There was an absolute massacre in Dersim, where people were killed on the grounds that they had revolted. İhsan Sabri Çağlayangil, who once served as foreign minister, said that hundreds of women, children and old people who had sought shelter in caves were poisoned by gas bombs. To whom did he recount these events? He told them to the current CHP leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Then we learned from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that between 40,000 and 60,000 people had been slaughtered. We also just learned that Sabiha Gökçen had been decorated as a war hero for having dropped bombs during the massacre weighing 50 kilograms each while flying at the lowest altitude possible.
The statements CHP Tunceli Deputy Hüseyin Aygün recently made to Today's Zaman have sparked another debate. He said, "The CHP and the state are responsible for the Dersim massacre" and noted that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk must have been informed about the massacre.
Aygün's remarks sent tremors through the CHP. Twelve CHP deputies held a joint press conference to issue a memorandum to the Kılıçdaroğlu administration, reviving old antagonisms. The question is not about the internal affairs of the CHP but about the mentality of military tutelage that blocks a union of democracy and the republic.
This tutelary system or regime has always played a role in the polarization of this country. Rightist-leftist, progressive-reactionary, secular-anti-secular, Turkish-Kurdish, Sunni-Alevi, etc. -- all of these dichotomies have been intentionally devised in order to keep this nation away from democracy. These polarizations could pave the way for regular coups.
Having crushed and intimidated them with claims of revolts as excuses, Alevis could be later lured into plots by the tutelage system. The Maraş Massacre (1978) and the Çorum Massacre (1980) were plotted to lay the groundwork for the coup of Sept. 12, 1980.
The 1993 Madımak Massacre in Sivas had been devised to trigger a secular-anti-secular polarization. Provocations were employed in the Gazi neighborhood of İstanbul for the same purpose. Thus, the fears created in the hearts of the Alevis in Koçgiri, Ağrı and Dersim would occasionally be renewed as part of the policy of repression. The “deep state” told the people of Dersim who had survived the massacre by hiding under the clothes of their slain mothers or in the recesses among rocks or logs: "If the Sharia comes, you don't have a chance of survival. You are obliged to be the guardians of the region."
The tutelary forces that resorted to using the Alevi-Sunni conflict whenever they intended to plot chaos in society could not continue to implement their plans with the start of the probe into Ergenekon, a clandestine organization nested within the state that allegedly tried to overthrow or manipulate the democratically elected government. Their plans to assassinate Alevi leaders shed light on the truth.
The Ergenekon trial shook the Alevi community. However, Alevi organizations failed to exhibit the form of behavior that befitted them. They were victims of the filthy network, but couldn't raise their voice. They couldn't say: "The probe should be deepened. It should proceed to the ultimate point. The Maraş and Sivas incidents should be reinvestigated."
It is not the CHP, Kılıçdaroğlu or intra-party conflicts that are at stake. Rather, what is at stake runs deeper. No one can escape facing these century-old matters. The Dersim truth is putting an end to the old Turkey. Dersim has derailed the tutelage. No once can put it back on track. No one can re-erect the fallen pieces.