Turkish artists burn works to commemorate Alevi massacre

33 intellectuals burnt alive by Islamists in 1993

22 November, 18:25

    (ANSAmed) - ANKARA, NOVEMBER 22 - On the initiative of the painter Bubni Hayom, 35 Turkish artists set fire to their works in Istanbul on November 19 to commemorate the victims of the 1993 Sivas massacre. On July 2 of that year, in the town in central Anatolia, 33 intellectuals of the Alevi minority group were burnt alive in a hotel that an angry crowd of Muslim fundamentalists had set fire to. The ''burnt works'' will be kept in a new museum called Unutmamak Muzesi (The Museum of Not Forgetting), announced the mayor of Istanbul's European neighbourhood Besiktas, Ismail Unal. The Sivas massacre is one of the most brutal episodes of recent Turkish history. A frenzied mob of Muslim zealots attacked and set fire to the Medimak hotel in Sivas, where a festival of Alevi poetry was underway. Some 33 intellectuals of the Alevi minority (a liberal offshoot of the Shiite sect, which for centuries has suffered discrimination and violence in Turkey at the hands of the Sunni majority) lost their lives in the fire, including the translator of Salman Rushdie's 'Satanic Verses', Aziz Nesin, whose presence had sparked the rage of the Islamists.

    Two of the hotel workers and two attackers also lost their lives, but no one has even been convicted for the massacre. The trial was drawn out over many years and the case was recently closed after the statute of limitations had passed. The Turkish Alevi community (about 20% of the population) were angered by the sentence, reports Hurriyet Online,and became furious after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the ruling, saying, ''Congratulations, to our nation and our country''. The artists taking part in the ''burnt works'' initiative for Sivas said the incident was ''a crime against humanity, and thus statute of limitations regulations should not apply to the case''.


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