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TURKISH state services have been accused of involvement in a massacre of Alevis in Çorum, northern Anatolia 40 years ago amid renewed demands that the perpetrators be brought to justice.
The Democratic Alevi Associations (DAD) Ankara Branch said: "What happened in Corum in 1980 was an outright massacre under the supervision of the state.
“It is a massacre that started in May 1980 and continued until July targeting the Alevi people."
At least 57 people were killed and more than 200 injured in the pogrom as Islamist nationalists associated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) targeted the city’s Alevi population.
The Çorum killings came two years after the Maraş massacre in which at least 111 Alevis were killed and many more injured in what was also described as a pogrom instigated by the state.
Secret documents revealed the involvement of Turkish security services (MIT) — including a relative of the then Grey Wolves leader Alparslan Turkes — and there are persistent allegations that the CIA helped plan the 1978 Maraş massacre, with operative Alexander Peck named in government files.
Both massacres are seen as having been part of larger military plans and a pretext for the coup of September 1980 which saw a huge backlash against leftist organisations, trade unions and progressives.
Turkey’s sizeable Alevi community has long been seen as a threat by the Turkish state. Discrimination against them was built into the Turkish constitution of 1925, which prevented the building of Cemevi — Alevi spiritual houses.
Socially progressive and drawn to left-wing and revolutionary politics, the Alevi community was seen as a threat to the unity of the Turkish republic and had defied attempts by the authorities to assimilate minority groups, seeking to maintain their culture, beliefs and way of life.
Alevi people continue to be targeted today. Most recently Turkish nationalists threatened to dig up and burn the body of Grup Yorum bass player Ibrahim Gokcek branding him an “infidel” and a terrorist.
DAD said: "As in every Alevi massacre, the community was victim of religious, physical, cultural, and economic genocide processes and violently pushed into an assimilation process.
“After each massacre, Alevis faced losing their lives, their property and their beliefs.
“The state played with the demographic structure implementing its Sunnization project within the framework of Turkish-Islamic synthesis.
“In Çorum, they tried to get rid of the Alevi as they had done in Ortaca, Maraş, Sivas and Malatya."
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