As Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, Washington , DC , USA , I endorse the following appeal.
"Let's meet on July 2 in front of the Madımak Hotel…"
On July 2, 1993, 33 people who went to Sivas, Turkey, to commemorate the life of Pir Sultan Abdal [15th-16th century] were burnt to death, in an attack by representatives of medieval brutality against enlightenment, modernity, democracy and secularism, the brotherhood of nations, and the establishment of tolerance and multiculturalism in Turkey. Fifteen years ago a reactionary-fascist massacre was carried out under the auspices of the state and its security forces. Racist and Islamist-revivalist forces, the enemies of humanity, enlightenment, and freedom of expression, besieged vulnerable people in a hotel while chanting the slogans: "We want Sharia," "The [Turkish] Republic was established in Sivas , will fall in Sivas ". Setting the hotel afire, they wrote a dark page in history.
This profound blemish has been aggravated by the attitude of the AKP government, which has ignored our demand to convert the Madımak Hotel in Sivas [where the massacre occurred] into a museum, and rejecting the legislative bill proposing its establishment as a museum. Furthermore, Sivas Mayor Sami Aydın's response to proposals for replacement of a new restaurant at the hotel with a library or a flower shop, and to add such a building to the museum, was, "We should not spoil something that has been just completed", which meant approval of the restaurant. The response of Cultural Minister Ertuğrul Günay was that there was insufficient money to pay for nationalization of the Madımak Hotel. These decisions have hurt us as deeply as the Madımak Massacre itself.
Today we all know that massacres and murder by burnings are nothing new. Mansur Hallaj [9th century] was executed by hanging because he had said Enel Hak [I am God, as Truth], Seyyid Nesimi [14th century] was flayed alive. In the Middle Ages, when all kinds of free and oppositional opinions were suppressed by church authorities, a philosopher and scientist, Giordano Bruno, was burned to death. During World War II, millions of people were killed in gas chambers.
In the 16th century Pir Sultan was hanged.
In recent years, in Istanbul on May 1, 1977, in Maraş, in Çorum, in Gazi, and in many other incidents, hundreds of people were killed, burned and subjected to torture.
Undoubtedly they were burned, but became a light in the darkness. However, enlightenment in the darkness now must come about through science, technology, and wisdom, not through human beings put to death by fire… Therefore we must increase the light by refusing to forget massacres committed in the past, preventing new ones, emphasizing that our differences are our diversity and most importantly by confronting our conscience, our past, our faults and sins.
Hence, we believe that we must, together, end the shame created by the inhuman massacre at the Madımak Hotel and we believe this question is not of concern only to Alevis. We know that we can heal the wound made in our collective memory by the Madımak Hotel incident, together with those who believe in democracy, rights and freedoms, equality and multiculturalism. Intending to confront the Madımak Massacre and to identify the real perpetrators, we consider that the security of life and property of every person who adheres to a differing identity and belief, would be increasingly threatened if we forget what happened on July 2.
Turkey must remove this shame from its past and also illuminate its future. In our opinion the solution is to convert the Madımak Hotel into a museum, to identify the real, hidden perpetrators, and to apologize to the Alevi Community. To prevent new Madımak massacres, therefore, it is of great importance to stop initiatives and efforts to forget July 2 and to ensure that the Turkish state and society confront it. Thus commemorations to be held on July 2 in Sivas are critically important.
Alevi organizations have been waging a determined struggle for fifteen years to expose the Madımak Massacre, and not only Madımak, but all massacres which devastate the culture of tolerance and reinforce darkness. And we consider it important to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who defend secularism, emancipation of the individual and labor, and democratization of the State. We call on our friends to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the Madımak Hotel on July 2.
As we do every year, to commemorate our loss, we will leave carnations in front of the Madımak Hotel on 2nd July in this year too. Once more we shall demonstrate our commitment to make the Madımak Hotel a museum. We strongly appeal to others to join us in these commemorations. We believe that your support will contribute to realizing the dream of a Turkey where different cultures and beliefs can live in tolerance and that your support will constitute an effective response to those who try the cause the Madımak Massacre to be forgotten.
By your support, do you know you will commemorate not only those massacred in the Madımak Hotel but also the death of Giordano Bruno?
Let's meet in front of the Madımak Hotel in Sivas on Wednesday, July 2, 2008, for a more enlightened Turkey …
Alevi Bektaşi Federation of Turkey (ABF)
Ali Balkız, President
European Confederation of Alevi Unions (AABK)
Turgut Öker, President
Pir Sultan Abdal Culture Associations
Fevzi Gümüş, President
Hacı Bektaş Veli Culture Associations
Tekin Özdil, President
Hacı Bektaş Veli Anatolian Culture Foundation
Ercan Geçmez, President