Turkish soldier’s diary sheds light on Dersim massacres

A Turkish historian has recently discovered the diary of a Turkish soldier who took part in the 1937-38 massacres in the Alevi-majority province of Dersim, Turkey, Rudaw reports.

When Dersim’s population rebelled against the Turkish military’s increasing presence in the area, a brutal crackdown was instigated by Ankara.

Thousands of alevis, as well as Armenians were killed or internally displaced by the Turkish military campaign. Rebellion leader Seyid Riza and his son were hanged on November 15, 1937, in Dersim’s Elazig Bugday Square.

Turkish historian Zainab Turkilmaz is a university instructor who has long been working on Ottoman and modern Turkish history.

In August 2019, while searching the Ataturk Internet Archive, she discovered the diary of Turkish soldier named Yousif Kanaan Akim, who tells of the brutal Turkish army campaign through his own lens.

“I was searching among the online archives of Ataturk. One of the key words I was searching was Dersim. While searching, I came across the diary of the Turkish soldier,” Turkilmaz told Rudaw.

Turkilmaz, who has been working on a book on the Dersim massacre since 1999, “immediately downloaded the document.”

“This document is one of the most precise and important sources, full of information with plenty of details concerning the massacre,” she said.

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