Tunceli or Dersim, the problem is there to solve

Published 27.11.2014 01:42

The Alevi problem in Turkey is decades old and past governments have done very little to ease the concerns of Alevis, let alone solve the issue.

It was under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's rule as prime minister that the government took up the Alevi issue in earnest and has since been pondering ways to address the issue and, eventually, solve it.

Until now there has been a lot of rhetoric and very little substantive measures.

The government started by acknowledging that the Turkish state had used a tight-fist policy on the province of Tunceli, which was previously called Dersim, and Erdoğan apologized to the Alevi people of Turkey for the massacre of 1937 and 1938, where 13,000 people lost their lives.

Under new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, the government has increased efforts to mend fences with the Alevi community in Turkey and Davutoğlu has ordered his aides to work on a viable plan, keeping in mind the delicate balances and realities of the country.

He also asked the office of the President of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) to contribute to the process.

Last weekend, Davutoğlu was in Tunceli making gestures and statements but still the Alevis of Turkey felt much more is to be done before the government are able to start meeting their demands.

But it is a fact that the government is on the correct path and all that is needed is extra effort to build the momentum and produce some concrete steps that will appease the Alevi community.

Of course, the fact that there is resentment, especially among the Sunnis and Alevis in Anatolia, and we have to overcome some mistrust, as well as psychological barriers, it is still a fact that the government has shown goodwill and understanding towards the issue. And the Alevi community leaders are aware of this.

In this respect the opposition has to help the government. On Wednesday, conservative opposition leader Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli announced he will be in Tunceli on Nov. 28 to embrace the people of the troubled province and give messages of unity and brotherhood.

Until now, Bahçeli has contributed positively on many vital issues thus encouraging the government to take bolder steps in many areas, even regarding the Kurdish issue.

Bahçeli has kept the militant nationalist youths off the streets, thus avoiding serious confrontation with the Kurds or the left-wing militants. He can now help the Sunni-Alevi reconciliation in Turkey.

If Bahçeli acts with the responsibility of a statesman, as he has done up until now on various issues, he will once again be the key contributing factor for a better Turkey.

The main opposition, the Republican People's Party (CHP), could also help the government but it seems they simply cannot bring themselves to do anything for the sake of the country if it means helping out the government.

The other important issue is that Alevi communal leaders too have to display unity and conformity among themselves on what they want and how they can achieve this.

It is an unstated fact that there is some discord among them that needs to be solved.

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