Mustafa Kemal, after the congresses in Amasia, Karin and Sebastia for the purpose of the “liberation war” on December 22, 1919, visited the lodge of the leaders of the Veli Alevi community in Hunkar Bektash to enlist their support to participate in the war. He met with Ahmed Jemalettin Chelebi, who at that time was the sheikh of the community (pir or sheikh, leader of the Alevi community.) He was given some promises: “Let’s expel the invaders from one homeland, then I intend to create a state in which everyone can enjoy their freedom.” He even noted that the name of this state would be called the Republic of Anatolia. Jemalettin Chelebi positively accepted these promises and said: “Pasha, we are with you in this fight”.

    It is said that for the first time he donated M. Kemal two thousand gold reshat (a gold coin left over from the Ottoman state) from the funds of the community. However, M. Kemal’s desires were not limited only to the material tendency. He expected Jemalettin Chelebi to support the recruitment of soldiers. J. Chelebi didn’t hesitate to go to the provinces of Sebastia, Tokat, Amasia, Chorum and, presenting the promises of Ataturk, persuaded many to take up arms and join the army. This proposal was really accepted by the people, and the Alevi community took a serious part in the resistance movements.

    Mustafa Kemal also made these promises to the Kurdish leaders who participated in the congresses of Karin, Amasia and Sebastia. One of them was Alishan Bey, one of the leaders of the Kochgir province of Sebastia. Taking the opportunity, he even offered Alishan Bey to become a deputy. Mustafa Kemal, in particular, suggested the Kurds join this process and promise that all democratic rights of the Kurdish people will be constitutionally guaranteed in the republic being created. The Kochgir community, paying tribute to these promises, provided various kinds of support to M. Kemal. This process of support continued until the first parliamentary session of 1921. Deputies arriving from the south-east of the country were registered as deputies of Kurdistan. Deputies from Dersim, densely populated by Alavis, were assigned a separate wing. It should be noted that these benefits were very important from a constitutional and legal point of view.

    However, for some reason, Mustafa Kemal did not stand behind his promises, because, as it turned out, this was not his real goal, he just tactically used all these capabilities to achieve his goal: to create a Turkish state based on a single ethnic identity. Mustafa Kemal, having successfully completed his program, proclaims Islam as the state religion focused on the Sunnah. He didn’t  fulfill any promise made to Alevi, ignoring the religion of Alevism. The Alavis were worried and through telegrams they informed Kemal about it several times. The latter did not change his decision.

    Despite these telegrams and correspondence, the leaders of the Kochgir tribe also did not receive a response from Ankara and in 1921 declared that M. Kemal did not fulfill his promises, therefore, he was an enemy of the Kurds and Alavis. After that, in 1921, led by tribal leaders Alisher, Zarif, Haidar Bey and Alishan Bey, resistance and rebellion began against the racist fascist system that Mustafa Kemal wanted to establish. Instead of solving the democratic demands of the population of Kochgir, M. Kemal sent  armed units of the army and the gang of the Osmans to the region in order to suppress the uprising in the bloodiest way. As a result, thousands of people were killed and robbed, leaving almost no living quarters for the survivors, and all the surviving leaders were deported.

    Mustafa Kemal, after the Kochgir massacre, declared that the policy he developed based on the Turkish-Islamic synthesis would be implemented if the Alavis assimilate with Islam and guarantee that this would be carried out systematically. After the proclamation of the Republic in 1924, he founded the Committee on Religious Affairs, based on the principles of Sunnah Islam. However, it was not content with this on November 30, 1925, under the name of the Tekke and Zavye Law that completely prohibited the Alevi faith. He closed all lodges that support this faith, and included their leaders in the list of terrorist criminals. Thus, according to this law, the state must fight against the Alevi faith.

    He even erased the memory of the Alevi community, forcing them to write the word “Islam” on their signatures so as not to have anything to do with their past. After all these events, the Alevi community no longer trusted Mustafa Kemal. Dersimians did not  tolerate a ban on their faith. Realizing that after the pogroms in Kochgir, it would be their turn, they were more firmly defending their faith than ever. Having systematized all these processes, Mustafa Kemal was moving on to the second stage of his program. In 1935, he adopted a special Tunceli law, which deliberately changed Dersim’s name to Tunceli. Then, he founded the Governor’s main military department in Kharberd, which includes Tuncel, Yerznka and Byurakn (January 6, 1936). Abdullah Alpdogani was appointed governor and Commander-in-Chief of Dersim, who was the son-in-law of Army Commander Sakalla Nurettin Pasha. The latter killed the civilians of Kochgir. After that, events known from history took  place. Historical realities confirm that they are trying to assure us with a far-fetched thesis that there was an uprising in Dersim, while the main task of the authorities was to devastate this geography and distort the Alavi faith. Survivors of the genocide were deported to different places of the country in order not to face their cultural identity again or to assimilate more easily.

    Despite all the brutality and genocide that Mustafa Kemal applied to the Alevi community, there are still a large number of Alevis who defend the Republic he founded as a secular republic. Now these confused Alevi want to ask the following question: ‘Either all the historical trials mentioned above are a lie, or your faith is not based on information, documents and historical reality. Do you think our understanding of secularism is related to all this? In the end, I would like to add that, although Alevis and Kemalists conduct politics side by side in the same “pot”, it still contradicts the rules of nature, since Kemalism has a fascist mindset that rejects multiculturalism, multilingualism and diversity.

Sabri Karaman

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