Sept. 12 coup junta destroyed Dersim petitions sent to Parliament

December 15, 2011, Thursday/ 16:14:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Officials from Parliament's Petition Commission on Thursday said the commission's archives show that over 200 petitions regarding the Dersim massacre were destroyed by the junta regime in the post Sept. 12, 1980 coup era.

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Çanakkale deputy Mehmet Daniş, who heads the Petition Commission, said the petition record books indicate that more than 200 families who had to leave Dersim and move to the western provinces sent petitions to Parliament, explaining the problems they faced and demanding to be returned to their hometown.

Daniş asserted that the current commission would welcome any petitions regarding Dersim and called on people to send petitions to the commission regarding any issues they might want to raise about their ancestors. Daniş said the Petition Commission's archives are like a laboratory that shows the lives and problems faced by Turks in the republican era, and added that “we can see that many complaints were submitted to the Petition Commission regarding the Dersim issue. Citizens' complaints are explained briefly in the record books, along with the details of the identity of the person who submitted the petition and the decision that was made. The actual petitions, however, were destroyed by the junta.”

The latest debate on the Dersim massacre, which happened in the early years of the republic when the state violently suppressed a rebellion in what is today Tunceli, killing thousands of innocent people, has raised calls for Turkey to face up to similar tragedies in its history.

In a historic move, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan apologized for the 1937 massacre in the predominantly Alevi region of Dersim on behalf of the Turkish state, but said the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), which was the only political party at the time, is the real culprit and called on the party's current leader to apologize on behalf of the CHP.

Erdoğan also released a number of state documents about the incident and read excerpts from archival documents related to the massacre. This was the first official apology from the Turkish government over the killing of thousands of people in the eastern town of Dersim -- now known as Tunceli as a result of a name change in 1936 -- between 1936 and 1939.

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