European Parliament Hosts Landmark Conference on Turkey’s Dersim Massacres

BRUSSELS (ArmRadio)–The European Parliament hosted last week a conference on the Massacres of Dersim, one of the many neglected slaughter campaigns orchestrated by the Republic of Turkey following the Armenian Genocide.

The conference, held on the 70th anniversary of the massacres, highlighted the republic’s campaign in 1937 to eliminate Dersim’s local minority population, consisting of Kurds, Armenia’s, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Alevis and Kizilbash. Located in north Kharpert, Dersim was renamed to Tunceli in 1936. The massacres and deportations were carried out immediately after it was renamed.

Speaking at the conference, Hilda Tchoboian, the president of the European Armenian Federation, underlined the continuity of Turkey’s genocidal tradition. Explaining that Turkey’s identity was built on the negation of the other, she recalled that at the time of the Armenian genocide, Dersimis ‘s contrary to other Kurdish tribes ‘s had protected the local Armenia’s, saving roughly 40,000 people.

One out of four Dersimis have Armenian ancestry as a result, she explained.

This conference ‘s and in particular the presence of two town representatives of Turkey – Serafettin Halis, deputy of the province of Tunceli and Song?l Erol Abdil, mayor of the town of Tunceli (Dersim) ‘s caused great agitation in the Turkish press, in particular because of their remarks on the genocidal tradition of Turkey. During the conference, the lecturers and organizers revealed that Ankara had applied intense pressure to prohibit the conference from taking place.

The conference revealed to Europeans that Turkey is not and never has been homogeneous on an ethnic or linguistic point of view. The Kurds, Dersimis, Zazas and innumerable other minorities have all their own identity and collectively they compose the majority of the Anatolian population.

“Turkey has never admitted this diversity of population and tried to deny it by committing different mass crimes. It is also this reality which Turkey wants to hide from its own population and other States” said Tchoboian.

The conference concluded with a Joint Declaration signed by Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Assyrian-Chaldean organizations.

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