National Police Department opens its archives to public

June 11, 2012, Monday/ 14:31:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The National Police Department has taken state dossiers aged more than 50 years off its dusty shelves and opened them to the public in a move expected to shed light on past incidents, the Akşam daily reported on Monday.

The National Police Department has transferred around 250 million documents in 500,000 folders to the General Directorate of State Archives in digital form.

The order for the transfer of the state documents to the General Directorate of State Archives came from National Police Chief Mehmet Kılıçlar. Every document over the age of 50 was scanned and taken in trucks to the General Directorate of State Archives.

The documents include the case of well-known Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet Ran, who was stripped of his citizenship in 1951 at the height of the Cold War because of his communist views, branded a traitor and imprisoned for more than a decade. He died in exile in Moscow in 1963.

The case concerning the 1948 killing of another Turkish poet, Sabahattin Ali, is also among the documents. Ali, known for his strong opposition to the state, was convicted of insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in one of his poems in 1932. He served time in the Konya and Sinop prisons but was released after a general amnesty granted on the 10th anniversary of the republic in 1933. Ali was murdered while trying to flee the country on April 1, 1948. His body was found on June 16. Ali Ertekin, a smuggler, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to four years, but then released with a pardon. However, the motive behind the murder remains a mystery.

Among the documents released to the public, there are reports concerning the Kurdish revolts during the final days of the Ottoman Empire and the early days of the Turkish Republic, such as the revolt in Dersim, now known as Tunceli.

A massacre took place in 1937 in Dersim, which was historically a semi-autonomous region, as a brutal response to a rebellion. The alleged rebellion was led by Seyyid Rıza, the chief of a Zaza tribe in the region. The Turkish government at the time, led by former Republican People's Party (CHP) leader İsmet İnönü, responded with airstrikes and other violent methods of suppression, killing thousands of people.

It will also be interesting to see if the transferred documents will shed light on the location of the grave of Islamic scholar Said Nursi. The scholar suffered much hardship throughout his life; most of his life was spent in prison and exile. He died on March 23, 1960, in Şanlıurfa and was buried there. However, after the May 27, 1960 coup, his body was disinterred and taken to an unknown place. Despite being of Kurdish origin, Nursi was praised for his efforts to strengthen ties between Turkey's Turkish and Kurdish populations.

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