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A new political period began in Turkey in the 1960s, as a result of the emerging activities of social movements from nearly every sector of society. Unlike the previous periods, for the first time, segments of society such as workers and youth began to engage in sustained social and political activism, demanding political and economic change and going beyond merely [...]
Ulucanlar Prison was built in 1925, following the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Thus looking at the history of this prison also means analyzing the history of politics in Turkey, since many political prisoners were incarcerated in Ulucanlar. It is almost impossible to mention the names of all the prisoners who were imprisoned unjustly and subjected to torture [...]
The city of Diyarbakir was one of the most culturally diverse in the Middle East before World War I. People from different ethnic and religious backgrounds–Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Jews, Chaldeans, Arabs and Turks–lived side-by-side until the last century. The centuries-old “millet system” in the Ottoman Empire, which defined a hierarchical, contractual relationship between the state and non-Muslim communities, collapsed during [...]
The Kurdish question in Turkey entered a new phase after 1999, following the imprisonment of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the armed guerilla forces (PKK) and the Kurdish political movement in Turkey. Most of the PKK guerillas retreated to their main bases in Southern Kurdistan (Iraq and Syria) to show that the Kurdish movement supported attempts to begin a peace [...]
After decades of denial, assimilation and repression of the Kurdish population by the Turkish state, the Kurds, estimated to constitute 15 to 20 percent of the overall population of Turkey, began to demand recognition in the late 1950s. However, the state did not tolerate these peaceful demands and increased the level of repression, furthering the radicalization of the Kurdish movement’s [...]
The Dersim region, overwhelmingly populated by Alevi Kurds, resisted the centralization policies of the Ottoman Empire for many decades. While the Alevi Kurds wanted to continue their indigenous cultural and political autonomy, this was considered a threat to the sovereignty of the newly established Turkish Republic (1923). Seyit Riza was one of the most prominent figures in the region, not [...]
After the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, the Republican People’s Party (RPP) consolidated a one-party rule in Turkey and did not tolerate the existence of any opposition political parties, groups, or persons until the post-WWII period. The RPP relied on Kemalism, the ideological cement of the Turkish nation-state since its founding. Kemalism relied on radical secularism, ethnically-based Turkish [...]
The population of Armenians, one of the largest Christian communities in the Ottoman Empire, was approximately 1.5 million before the genocide in 1915. After the massacres and deportations of the genocide, it fell to less than 100,000. The Turkish Republic, established in 1923, never acknowledged that Armenians were decimated in 1915. More importantly, the Turkish nation-state instituted exclusionist policies towards [...]
Before the Armenian genocide took place in 1915, Armenians had inhabited Anatolia since ancient times. The Turkish Republic, established after the Armenian genocide in 1923, has never acknowledged the 1915 massacres of Armenians. In official state discourse, the period in which the genocide occurred was an exceptional time, during which Armenians allied with enemy forces and constituted a security threat [...]
After decades of intense armed conflict in the 1980s and 1990s, no resolution of the Kurdish question in Turkey was forthcoming. The civil war in the Kurdish region caused the deaths of approximately 50,000 people, among them thousands of civilians. Of the civilians killed in the course of the civil war, the number of children has been quite high. According [...]
An armed conflict between the Turkish state and the Workers’ Party of Kurdistan (PKK) emerged in the mid-1980s and peaked in the 1990s as a result of the decades-old denial, assimilation and repression policies targeting the Kurds. Although the full truth of the devastation caused by the civil war is still not known, approximately 50,000 people lost their lives and [...]
The assimilation policies of the Turkish state have existed since the early years of the Republic and have targeted all non-Turkish populations living in Turkey. The Kurds, who constitute approximately 15 to 20 percent of the total population, have been subjected to harsh restrictions and prohibitions for almost 80 years. The use of the Kurdish language in the public sphere [...]
The Turkish state has not recognized the Alevi identity as a distinct ethno-religious identity since the establishment of the republic in 1923, and this policy continues to this day. Although the Turkish Republic claims to be secular on a constitutional basis, the Directorate of Religious Affairs, an institution subordinate to the Prime Minister’s office, has regulated all religious activity since [...]
Assyrians are one of the oldest communities in Mesopotamia and one of the earliest Christian communities in history. Although the relationship between Muslims and Christians was not free of problems during the Ottoman period, different religious communities were able to co-exist for many centuries. Nevertheless, following the collapse of the empire and World War I, the centuries-old grievances of Assyrians [...]