Details of Alevi reforms revealed in government program

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 26.11.2015 23:07

Details of the Alevi reforms to address the long-standing concerns of the Alevi population within Turkey's borders were revealed in the new government program.

"The requests based on the beliefs and culture of the Alevi citizens of Turkey will be met. We will take the necessary steps on the basis of democratic consensus through dialogues with the Alevi community's decision makers (Dedes) concerning topics such as managing cemevis (Alevi houses of worship), informing within the educational system and establishing research and application centers in universities. We will provide legal status to the cemevis and traditional knowledge centers," the program states.

For years, public recognition of the Alevi identity, institutions and the legal status of Cemevis have been common requests made by a variety of groups in the Alevi community. Though the Cemevis are the houses of religious rituals for the Alevi minority of Turkey, so far they have no legal status equivalent to that of mosques or churches. According to the program, arrangements to give them a legal status will be completed and, as with mosques, water and power expenses will be covered by the Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB). Moreover, the government is also planning to provide public aid to the Dedes.

The previous AK Party government also took steps to resolve the concerns of the Alevi community. The Alevi initiative in Turkey was launched during Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's tenure as prime minister in 2009, and seven discussion workshops were held with the participation of Alevi leaders and representatives from different segments of society over a course of six months. Moreover, on Nov. 23, 2011, Erdoğan apologized on behalf of the state for the Dersim tragedy in 1937. The incident refers to the massacre of Alevi Zaza people in Dersim in 1937 and 1938 after an Alevi uprising during the Republican People's Party's (CHP) single-party era. According to gendarmerie reports, 13,806 people were killed and thousands more were internally displaced due to the military campaign against the uprising after the 1934 Resettlement Law, which aimed to assimilate ethnic minorities. Erdoğan described the incident as one of the most painful and bloody tragedies in Turkey's recent history.

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