Our Statements

november 15, 2023

Commemoration of Seyit Riza and his Friends

On November 15, 1937, Seyit Rıza and his friends were arrested and executed in a conspiracy set up by the Turkish state in Elezîz [Turkish name Elazığ] where they had come to negotiate a halt of attacks and solve the problems, as part of the Dersim [Turkish name Tunceli] operation. On the anniversary of their execution, we would like to respectfully commemorate Seyit Rıza and the Kurdish leaders who were murdered with him.

The genocidal colonialist Turkish state carried out one of the largest and most brutal massacres in human history in Dersim in 1937 and 1938. Tens of thousands of Kurds in and around Dersim were massacred with guns, bayonets and chemical gases. We once again honor those who lost their lives in this massacre and strongly condemn the Turkish state and those who took part in the Dersim massacre. The Kurdish people will never forget the Dersim massacre and will definitely ask the genocidal colonialist murderer state to account for what they have done.

The Dersim massacre is undoubtedly one of the events that most clearly demonstrates the brutality of the Turkish state and its enmity towards the Kurds. In 1937 and 1938, a very brutal massacre was committed in Dersim that for a human being is even hard to describe. So much so that the mass murderers even slaughtered unborn babies by disemboweling pregnant women with bayonets. People who took refuge in the mountains and caves to escape the massacre were killed with chemical weapons. Every living creature was butchered, a great atrocity and genocide was experienced. It is a moral duty and the most basic requirement of being human to hold the cruel, savage and massacring state to account for inflicting such great suffering on peoples, especially the Kurdish people, and to confront it with this reality. Without doing this, one can neither live right.

The Dersim massacre is one of dozens of massacres carried out within the scope of Kurdish genocide policies. With these massacres, the Turkish state aimed to realize the Kurdish genocide. After each massacre, this was tried to be done through exile and assimilation practices. These were carried out because the Kurdish people refused to give up their identity, language, culture and values. In order to legitimize the massacres, it has always been stated that the people rebelled, which is a complete distortion. The Kurdish people have been denied, their legitimate and democratic rights arising from being a people and a nation have not been recognized. Their language, identity and culture were forbidden, and being Turkish was imposed. The Kurdish people objected to this. The state’s response to this objection was massacre and genocide. This is what happened in Dersim and other places. Unfortunately, a century has passed since then and it was filled with a lot of continued suffering. Without recognizing and confronting this reality, no assessment can be correct and will not find its place. If there is to be change in Turkey, if there is to be progress towards democratization, this can only be achieved by confronting the massacres committed against the Kurdish people, especially the Dersim massacre, by abandoning the mentality of denial, by openly and courageously defending and recognizing the democratic rights of the Kurdish people. This is the path to the democratization of Turkey and the Middle East.

Once again, we commemorate those who lost their lives in the Dersim massacre, like Seyit Rıza and Besê, and we bow to their memories with respect. We once again respectfully and gratefully commemorate all the martyrs of revolution and democracy, and we reiterate our promise to the martyrs. By not surrendering to the genocidal colonialist state, Seyit Rıza bequeathed the Kurdish people a very valuable attitude of resistance. The unyielding stance of Seyit Riza and Şêx Saîd has an important place in the resistance of the Kurdish people against massacres and genocide in Kurdistan. By transforming this tradition of resistance into an uninterrupted line of struggle, the PKK has ensured the resurrection of the Kurdish people and continues to do so today. Through resistance and struggle, the Kurdish people will definitely realize the ideal of a free life, a free leader and a free country that they long for, and by doing so, they will hold the butchering enemy to account.

KCK Executive Council