Governor bans Sivas Massacre commemoration, cites possibility of Grup Yorum giving a concert

Turkish authorities have banned a commemoration program planned by Alevi organizations in Istanbul’s Sultangazi district this weekend to remember victims of the Sivas Massacre. In its ban decision, the Sultangazi district governor's office cited the possibility of the leftwing music group Grup Yorum giving a concert at the event.

Duvar English

Istanbul’s Sultangazi district governor’s office has banned a program planned by Alevi organizations this weekend to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Sivas Massacre.

The governor’s office also banned all press statements and concerts throughout the district on June 24-25, according to reporting by KRT.  

The Sultangazi district security directorate sent a letter to the governor’s office and said that there was the possibility of the folk band Grup Yorum taking the state during the planned program. In response, the Sultangazi district governor’s office banned the program altogether.

Founded in 1985 as a reaction to the 1980 military coup and the subsequent military policies, Grup Yorum is known for its leftist stance and songs about political issues in Turkey. The band has been under a concert ban for years, their studios were raided and shuttered, and their members were imprisoned on terrorism charges.

In its letter, the Sultangazi district security directorate said: “Although permission has been asked as a commemoration activity, it has been evaluated that the activity might turn into a music-full concert atmosphere and exceed its purpose as artists and music groups take the stage. Unconfirmed information has been received suggesting that Grup Yorum, which is one of the structures of the DHKP-C armed terror organization, might take the stage.”

The security directorate also demanded that all concerts, meetings, gatherings, rallies, activities and press meetings be banned throughout the weekend in the district “to ensure public security and to prevent crime from being committed.”

The governor’s office approved of the security directorate’s demand, leading to the reaction of Alevi organizations which announced that they would hold a press statement in front of PSAKD Gazi Şehitleri Cemevi on June 23 at 1 p.m. local time.

The Sivas Massacre took place when a large group of radical Islamists set the Madımak Hotel in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas on fire on July 2, 1993, killing 33 intellectuals and two hotel personnel.