Istanbul police attack and detain demonstrators commemorating victims of Sivas Massacre

On the 30th-year anniversary of the Sivas Massacre in which radical Islamists killed 33 intellectuals, demonstrators in Istanbul were attacked and detained by police.

Duvar English

Istanbul police on July 2 attacked a ceremony held in Sancaktepe district to commemorate the victims of the Sivas Massacre on its 30th anniversary, in which 33 intellectuals and 2 two hotel personnel were burned to death by radical Islamists.

Those who attended the commemoration in Sarıgazi Democracy Square wanted to march through the street. Istanbul police prevented demonstrators from doing so, citing the picture of İbrahim Kaypakkaya, a deceased Turkish leftist.  

Police used pepper spray on demonstrators, prevented them from marching and detained several people.

Photo: Emre Orman
Photo: Emre Orman

Journalist Emre Orman was among those who were detained. 

In one of the videos spread through the social media, Istanbul Security Branch Manager Hanifi Zengin was seen threatening the demonstrators once again by saying “Is there someone that has the courage to say something to us?” Zengin is known for his threats and abusive behaviors against journalists, women and LGBTI+ people during protests.

In 1993, almost 15,000 people participated in the march towards the Madımak Hotel after Friday prayers in which radical Islamists chanted "Sivas will be the grave of secularists." Security forces did not intervene against the Islamist mob who waited in front of the hotel for hours and eventually set it on fire. The fire brigade also intervened late.

At the end of the long trial process, 33 defendants were sentenced to death and 14 defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging up to 15 years. In 2002, the death penalty was abolished and 33 people were sentenced to life imprisonment. Eight key figures in the Sivas Massacre escaped and disappeared in 1997.

Many of the defendants' lawyers have risen to parliamentary and ministerial positions in conservative right-wing parties, and the number of people in prison has been reduced to 33 with the release of prisoners over time.