Following the marking of houses believed to belong to Alevis with red marker pen in the southeastern province of Adıyaman, concern has simmered in the alevi community after the interior minister late on Thursday said a police investigation into the incident had revealed that children were the instigators.
Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin stated in remarks to journalists during a visit to the quake-stricken eastern province of Van’s Erciş district that three children had marked not only Alevi houses but also Sunni houses with red markers. He said the children are thought to have randomly selected houses and that three Sunni houses in the same street had also been marked, noting that the height of the marks on the walls indicate they were made by children. He added, however, that the investigation was still under way and that an official explanation for the marks will be made at a later date. He also noted there is nothing to speculate over regarding the various reports in the media.
On Wednesday, the Adıyaman Public Prosecutors’ Office in a written statement recalled news reports that claimed nearly 200 houses belonging Alevi citizens had been marked with red marker pen. The statement said police on Monday were called to the scene when residents noticed the marks on the walls of their houses and an investigation was immediately launched.
Those investigating the incident found that 26 houses had marks made by red marker pen in different shapes, the meanings of which were not clear, the written statement said, adding that the investigation was continuing. Alevi leaders and public figures, nevertheless, have vehemently criticized the markings and expressed concern over the incident, urging state officials to take immediate action to stand against acts of racism.
Earlier on Thursday, a statement released by the Alevi Bektaşi Federation (ABF) noted that the recent incident should not be overlooked and that the government must take the necessary measures to find those responsible and protect the Alevi community.
Governor meets concerned Alevis
The incident that fueled concern among the Alevis as history has been witness to similar examples of this that led to violence. For example, the recent incident recalled the Maraş incidents, in which hundreds of Alevis were killed in intra-communal clashes in 1978. Houses of Alevis were marked red before the clashes erupted, according to the claims of the families of the victims.
To address people’s fears and uncertainty, many state officials and Alevi group leaders visited the Karapınar neighborhood, where the incident took place.
Adıyaman Governor Ramazan Sodan, Adıyaman Mayor Necip Büyükaslan, Alevi dede (religious figure of an Alevi community) Ali Büyükşahin and Pir Sultan Abdal Association regional branch head Mahmut Yapıcı spoke with the residents early on Thursday and made their stance against racism known, sending a strong message of mutual respect and solidarity to the public.
Governor Sodan said Adıyaman, which has a multi-ethnic and religious population made up of Kurds, Sunni Turks and Alevis, is a model for the rest of Turkey in terms of social cohesion and peace. Mayor Büyükaslan also underlined that the history of the city proves that Adıyaman is a very different and quieter province compared to other regions in Turkey.
Alevi dede Ali Büyükşahin also noted that Adıyaman is a considerably quiet city in comparison to others and also touched upon the pre-1980 period in which thousands of people died in political violence. “Prior to and following the 1980 coup, people had respect towards each other. There was no violence in this city,” he said, while Yapıcı stated that Alevi and Sunni communities have lived in harmony and that there has been a culture of tolerance in Adıyaman for a long time. He added that both the Alevis and Sunnis of Adıyaman will not let another Maraş or Sivas incident happen again.