Turkey Confirms Its Responsibility For Sivas Massacre


July 15, 2014

ANKARA (DÄ°HA) – A top official audit board report into the 1993 Sivas
Massacre has declared that the Turkish state is responsible for the
arson attack on the Madımak Hotel, in which 35 Alawite intellectuals
were burnt alive and two assailants died, as well as for deficiencies
in the subsequent prosecution that has lagged for over 20 years.

The State Audit Board (DDK) of the presidency, which started
inspecting the attack upon an order by President Abdullah Gul in 2012,
stated in its report issued July 15 that the Governor’s Office in
Sivas showed “serious negligence and failures” in preventing the
massacre. The report accused the state of remaining a “spectator”
of the attack, which eventually resulted in the killing of renowned
Alevi intellectuals such as the poets Metin Altıok and Behcet Aysan,
writer Asım Bezirci, and popular musician Muhlis Akarsu.

‘Gradual escalation of tension’

Noting that the torching of the Madımak Hotel on July 2, 1993 was the
result of a gradual escalation of tension following the organization
of a conference by an Alevi association that started a day earlier,
the report said officials could have taken more safety measures to
prevent the massacre. “Despite the obvious social crisis developing
[in Sivas] … the incident was caused after serious negligence and
failures of the governorship to take preventive measures such as the
cancelation of the event, the dispersal of the crowd, the evacuation of
the participants from the hotel, or the implementation of a curfew,”
said the report, adding that “all the state dignitaries” at the time
were responsible. “For the [responsibilities] of its administrative
and political organs, all the state dignitaries and their approach
were just as responsible as the behaviors that caused the perception
of provocation in the Sunni collective memory,” the report stated.

Calling it ‘massacre’

The DDK also stressed that what marks one of the worse cases of civil
violence in Turkey’s recent history should legitimately be defined as a
“massacre,” saying no signs of “conspiracy” or “provocation” were noted
during the inspections and thus ruling out similar implications in
former reports. “The incidents that took place in Sivas … resulted
in the death of 35 people inside an hotel by mobs of people who were
out of control, who had lost their sense and who acted with feelings
of hate … and should be defined as a ‘massacre,'” the report said.

‘No public officer investigated’

The report also pointed to difficulties faced during its compiling,
saying evidence and information gathered during the 20-year-long
investigation was “insufficient.” The Ankara court overseeing the
trial had dropped the case on March 2012, ruling that the charges
against the suspects exceeded the statute of limitations of 20 years,
stirring outcry. Up to that poin the case had gone back and forth,
and there have been many calls for a re-trial. The report also
stressed that the lack of investigation into any public official
was unacceptable. “Unfortunately, due to the lack of any efficient
judicial or administrative investigation against public officials,
the [lack] of a perception of political responsibility, as well as our
insufficient democratic standards, everyone preferred the convenience
of pinning the crime on the mobs and society,” the report said.


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