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Sivas massacre victims commemorated on 24th anniversary

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Thirty-three Turkish intellectuals who perished in a fire in 1993 inside the Madımak Hotel were commemorated in Sivas on Thursday, the 24th anniversary of the massacre, the Hürriyet daily reported.

According to the report, delegations from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) accompanied victims’ families and representatives from Alevi institutions during the commemoration ceremony.

The group marched through the city and laid carnations at the Madımak Hotel and remembered their loved ones during the commemoration.

Head of the Cem Association Erdoğan Döner called for solidarity during his commemoration speech.

“We are here with our directors and civil society organizations. We hope that such an incident never happens again. But Sivas has to make it right together with the people of Sivas. We have to own this pain together with all of Sivas. Pain lessens when shared. There might be those benefitting from this tension. You will be strong and stand strong, so that those evil forces are not able to conduct such massacres. We are here to commemorate. We remember our loved ones with respect and gratitude. May their souls be blessed. Those sufferings allow us to derive beautiful lessons. We should come together. Together we should own the pain and the joy of the community,” said Döner.

“It is disgraceful for humanity to differentiate between people based on religious or ethnic identity. May God rest in peace those who we lost in the Sivas massacre,” wrote CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on his Twitter account on Sunday.

While the building has been is use as a museum of science since 2010, the families of victims are asking authorities to turn it into a “museum of shame.” The hotel building has come to symbolize the discrimination the Alevi community has faced in Turkey.

On July 2, 1993, an angry mob torched the Madımak Hotel, killing 37 people, mostly artists and scholars of the Alevi sect, who were there to join a conference hosted by the Pir Sultan Abdal Culture Foundation (PSAKD), an Alevi organization.

In attendance was Aziz Nesin, a left-wing Turkish short story writer, hated among religious Sunnis in Turkey, who had become the target of attacks for translating Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel “The Satanic Verses” into Turkish.

A group of radical Islamists, having been provoked by several local political leaders, gathered in front of the hotel following Friday prayer and accused conference participants for being infidels.

Thirty-three intellectuals, two hotel staff members and two protesters died in the fire. Nesin was able to escape because the attackers initially failed to recognize him.

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