Pres­i­dent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan par­doned a man found guilty of par­tic­i­pa­tion in the mas­sacre in Sivas in 1993 that caused the death of 35 people.

Français | English

Ahmet Turan Kılıç is one of the authors of the Sivas massacre.

These assas­si­na­tions occurred when a hate-filled crowd set fire to the Madı­mak Hotel in the province of Sivas in cen­tral Ana­to­lia on July 2 1993, killing 33 intel­lec­tu­als and two hotel employ­ees. Ahmet Turan Kılıç was sen­tenced to death then; with the abo­li­tion of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in 2002, his sen­tence was com­mut­ed to incom­press­ible perpetuity.

Last Jan­u­ary 31, Erdo­gan lift­ed the sen­tence imposed on this man – who is now 86 years old, because of “the health prob­lems affect­ing him” – in con­for­mi­ty with para­graph 16 of arti­cle 104 in the Turk­ish Constitution.

The attack against the Madı­mak Hotel tar­get­ed a group of artists and aca­d­e­mics par­tic­i­pat­ing in a con­fer­ence orga­nized ty the Cul­tur­al Foun­da­tion Pir Sul­tan Abdal (PSAKD), an Ale­vi orga­ni­za­tion. The event took place at a time when writer Aziz Nesin, who was among the guests, had become a pub­lic tar­get for his Turk­ish trans­la­tion of Salman Rushdie’s Satan­ic Vers­es. Among those killed in the crim­i­nal fire of the hotel were poets Metin Altıok, Behçet Aysan and Uğur Kay­nar, writer Asım Bezir­ci and the Dutch anthro­pol­o­gist Cari­na Cuan­na, as well as pop­u­lar Ale­vi musi­cians Muh­lis Akar­su and Nes­i­mi Çimen. A crowd pro­voked by a cer­tain num­ber of local polit­i­cal lead­ers and assem­bled out­side the hotel accused the con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants of being “unbe­liev­ers”.

Oth­er than the 35 peo­ple who died in the mas­sacre, two demon­stra­tors in the crowd out­side the hotel, where the events led to the fire and who were watch­ing the hotel while the peo­ple inside burned and called for help, also died in the fire.
Requests by the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims that the Madı­mak become a “muse­um of shame” were nev­er acknowl­edged. Nonethe­less, this build­ing became a sym­bol of the dis­crim­i­na­tion con­fronting Ale­vis in Turkey. It was expro­pri­at­ed in 2010 and trans­formed into a “Sci­ence and Cul­ture Center”…

Drawing by Sefer Selvi. Evrensel 2.2.2020
(Refers to photos showing men in the crowd carrying jerrycans of gasoline)
The man convicted of the massacre in Sivas is pardoned. 
- “There, you are free. You can gather your personal belongings and leave.”

And other sick prisoners?

The num­ber of ill and aged pris­on­ers sub­ject­ed to shame­ful con­di­tions of incar­cer­a­tion is so long it would pro­vide a list even longer than that of jailed jour­nal­ists. A great part of these detainees are of Kur­dish ori­gin and their deten­tion to long sen­tences has car­ried across regimes, from those of the army to the cur­rent one. Oth­er cas­es are more recent, of per­sons con­demned who were already ill and sen­tenced under the sacro­sanct label of “pro­pa­gan­da for or belong­ing to a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion”. Oth­er cas­es involve LGBTs… In all these cas­es, the famous arti­cle 104 of the Con­sti­tu­tion seems to be ignored.

But here, as soon as reli­gious pres­sures inter­vene, and in this case for a “con­tro­ver­sial” mas­sacre in the eyes of the big­ots in pow­er, the call to the Con­sti­tu­tion crowns a well-orches­trat­ed cam­paign. In order to do so, the vic­tims are cru­ci­fied once again. Noth­ing here but the most humane of decisions.

Zeynep Altıok Akatlı who lost her father the poet Metin Altıok in Sivas under­lined that Pres­i­dent Erdoğan had said the pre­scrip­tion on the Sivas mas­sacre was “a good thing” and declared that the assas­sins were “vic­tims”. She added that, when it proved impos­si­ble to have this man lib­er­at­ed for old age and ill­ness, a tri­al was opened against the med­ical exam­in­ers… “Now, he has been par­doned through the Pres­i­den­t’s author­i­ty.” She men­tioned pris­on­ers who are tru­ly ill, “the sys­tem does not work for scores of sick and aged pris­on­ers and pro­tects oth­ers with spe­cial care,” she said with indig­na­tion. “I have a ques­tion! This man would be the last sick and aged man in jail, thus deserv­ing a spe­cial amnesty? If his life per­mits, he might even become a deputy!”

What do the jurists say?

Ahmet Turan Kılıç

Ahmet Turan Kılıç

Lawyer and politi­cian Şenal Sarıhan, a lawyer and defendor of rights, has fol­lowed the Sivas case for 27 years and sheds some light on Erdoğan’s deci­sion. She reminds us that dur­ing the month pre­ced­ing Erdoğan’s par­don, the media at his ser­vice led an intense and well pre­pared cam­paign in sup­port of Ahmet Turan Kılıç’s lib­er­a­tion. Dec­la­ra­tions attrib­uted to his son reit­er­at­ed that Ahmet Turan Kılıç was in no way con­nect­ed to the mas­sacre, that he was inno­cent. His age and pur­port­ed state of health were stressed. Şenal Sarıhan adds “there was nev­er the slight­est ques­tion of a report from the health com­mis­sion in his case. I under­lined this when dis­cus­sions began con­cern­ing his even­tu­al liberation.”

The lawyer adds “Pub­lic opin­ion knows that some of the con­demned authors of the crime have not even been arrest­ed in these 27 years. It also knows that the vic­tims’ kin are deeply wound­ed by the behav­ior and sub­jec­tive com­ments of the entourage of those in pow­er who almost attempt to prove that the authors of the mas­sacre are those who per­ished in the fire, and not those who set the fire…” She decares that this man is not in any way “inno­cent” as his son claims. “It was obvi­ous that the absence of a legal basis for a par­don, such as a health report, was going to deep­en the suf­fer­ing of the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies. Final­ly, fol­low­ing the announce­ment of this deci­sion dat­ed Jan­u­ary 30 2020, we learned there exist­ed a legal med­i­cine report, bear­ing noth­ing but a num­ber and a date. We have no infor­ma­tion con­cern­ing its con­tent, so we have filed a request in order to find out more.”

In a respon­si­ble ges­ture in order to inform the pub­lic con­cern­ing the true iden­ti­ty of this man, described by some as a “grand­fa­ther” and stress­ing his “inno­cent” and almost hero­ic char­ac­ter, the lawyer shares the tes­ti­mo­ny gath­ered con­cern­ing the accused, tak­en from the tri­al pro­ceed­ings reg­is­tered at Ankara’s Tri­bunal N° 1. Sev­er­al wit­ness­es declared before the court that the accused “was there from the begin­ning to the end of the events and act­ing as a crowd leader,” that he was chant­i­ng slo­gans such as “Allahu akbar”, “Aziz (Nesin) the dev­il”, “Sivas will be Aziz’ tomb”, “Even if they shed our blood vic­to­ry to Islam”, “The sharia will come, the per­se­cu­tion will cease”, that he “called the peo­ple to Jihad”, that he “was also among those throw­ing stones against the hotel’s win­dows”, that “he was always in the fore­front, incit­ing, lead­ing, des­ig­nat­ing the tar­gets, that he facil­i­tat­ed breach­ing the bar­ri­ers and helped in the task of the authors in the first degree who destroyed the vehi­cles parked in front of the hotel, ram­sacked the inte­ri­or of the build­ing and allowed the start of the fire.”

* Subtitles : click on the gear icon and choose your language

In fact, it was on the basis of these many tes­ti­monies as well as of the videos record­ed dur­ing the mas­sacre that Ahmet Turan Kil­iç had been sen­tenced for “par­tic­i­pa­tion, aid­ing and abetting.”

A guilty man who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the vio­lent loss of 35 lives is now free. “The vic­tims had no right to live, to grow old nor to close their eyes in their home,” says Şenal Sarıhan. “The authors of this mas­sacre did not know the vic­tims per­son­al­ly. Their hos­til­i­ty was thus fed by their con­vic­tions against sci­ence, sec­u­lar­i­ty, broth­er­hood, and their beliefs. It is a crime com­mit­ted against human­i­ty. Can one par­don the author of such a type of crime? No log­ic in law based on human rights can accept this. Even less so when such an act is com­mit­ted with­out the least expres­sion of remorse.”

In order to know more, you may read these three arti­cles by Eti­enne Copeaux (in French)
Sketch N° 67 Sivan July 2 1993 – (Fab­ri­cat­ing the enemy)
Sivas, 2 juil­let 1993 — La fab­ri­ca­tion de l’ennemi
Sketch N° 68 – (Aziz Nesin the Athe­ist) L’athée Aziz Nesin 
Sketch N° 69 – (July 2 1993 — The account) 2 juil­let 1993 – Récit

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
Vous pouvez utiliser, partager les articles et les traductions de Kedistan en précisant la source et en ajoutant un lien afin de respecter le travail des auteur(e)s et traductrices/teurs. Merci.
Kedistan’ın tüm yayınlarını, yazar ve çevirmenlerin emeğine saygı göstererek, kaynak ve link vererek paylaşabilirisiniz. Teşekkürler.
Ji kerema xwere dema hun nivîsên Kedistanê parve dikin, ji bo rêzgirtina maf û keda nivîskar û wergêr, lînk û navê malperê wek çavkanî diyar bikin. Spas.
You may use and share Kedistan’s articles and translations, specifying the source and adding a link in order to respect the writer(s) and translator(s) work. Thank you.
Por respeto hacia la labor de las autoras y traductoras, puedes utilizar y compartir los artículos y las traducciones de Kedistan citando la fuente y añadiendo el enlace. Gracias.
KEDISTAN on EmailKEDISTAN on FacebookKEDISTAN on TwitterKEDISTAN on Youtube
Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.