1934 Turkish Resettlement Law
The 1934 Resettlement Law (also known as the Law no. 2510) was a policy adopted on 14 June 1934 by the Turkish government which set forth the basic principles of immigration. Joost Jongerden has written that the law constituted a policy of forceful assimilation of non-Turkish minorities through a forced and collective resettlement.
The bill was passed by the Turkish National Assembly on 14 June 1934. The law was made public and put into effect after it was published in the Resmi Gazete a week after its promulgation. According to the Interior Minister Şükrü Kaya:
|“||This law will create a country speaking with one language, thinking in the same way and sharing the same sentiment.||”|
Taking into consideration security and political concerns, the law closed strategic regions of the country to non-Muslim minority settlement. Turkish politicians understood that many non-Turks had been resettled on their own into separate villages and therefore had not assimilated into Turkishness. Those individuals who "spoke alien dialects" had been able to differentiate themselves from the Turkish nation. It was a necessity to assess those villages in which such "alien dialects" were spoken and to distribute populations which spoke the "alien dialects" to nearby Turkish villages in order to foster and encourage forced assimilation.
Under Article I of the law, the Minister of Interior was granted the right to govern and redistribute the interior population of the country in accordance with an individual's adherence to Turkish culture. Article 11 was a provision regarding that the resettlement must assure
|“||unity in language, culture and blood.||”|
The settlement zones were divided in three separate zones according to the adherence of Turkish culture in the each particular individual:
- Zone 1 - Areas deemed desirable to increase the density of the culturally Turkish population.
- Zone 2 - Areas deemed desirable to establish populations that had to be assimilated into Turkish culture.
- Zone 3 - Areas which had been decided should be evacuated for military, economic, political, or public health reasons, and where resettlement was prohibited.
In paragraph Four of Article 10, the Ministry of Interior was granted the authority to transfer any individual who did not possess a certain degree of "Turkish culture" to Zone 2, where forced assimilatory practices would take place.
According to Article 12, those individuals who did not speak Turkish and were in Zone 1 and were not transferred Zone 2 must be settled in villages, towns, and districts that had a preexisting dominance of Turkish culture in order to foster assimilation. Kurds who have been resettled shall not have been allowed to constitute more than 5% of the population in the locations they have been resettled to. More than half a million Kurds have been resettled with this law from the third zone to the second zone.
The law also required the resettlement of Muslim minorities such as Circassians, Albanians, and Abkhazes who were considered Muslims who had failed to fully adhere to the Turkish nation. Although these minorities shared the same faith as their Turkish counterparts, it was still considered a goal by the politicians of the Turkish Republic to bind all peoples of Turkey to become Turkish.Due to logistical difficulties to resettle all non-Turkish population into areas with a majority of a Turkish population the Law was mainly implemented in times of Kurdish uprisings.
Although the Law on Settlement was expected to operate as an instrument for Turkifying the mass of non-Turkish speaking citizens, it immediately emerged as a piece of legislation which sparked riots by non-Muslims, as evidenced in the 1934 Thrace pogroms in the immediate aftermath of the law's passage. Law No. 2510 was issued on 14 June 1934, and the Thrace pogroms began just over a fortnight later, on 3 July. The incidents seeking to force out the region's non-Muslim residents first began in Çanakkale, where Jews received unsigned letters telling them to leave the city, and then escalated into an antisemitic campaign involving economic boycotts and verbal assaults as well as physical violence against the Jews living in the various provinces of Thrace. It is estimated that out of a total 15,000-20,000 Jews living in the region, more than half fled to Istanbul during and after the incidents. However, although the Law on Settlement may well have actually provoked the incidents’ outbreak, the national authorities did not side with the attackers but immediately intervened in the incidents. After order was restored, the governors and mayors of the provinces involved were removed from office.
The law played a major role in the events in Dersim in 1938 known as the Dersim rebellion. Forced resettlement was used in the depopulation of Dersim in Eastern Turkey in 1937-1938, where, according to McDowall, 40,000 people were killed. In seventeen days of the 1938 offensive alone, 7,954 persons were reported killed or caught alive. According to official Turkish reports, almost 10 percent of the entire population of Tunceli was killed. The Kurds claim that their losses were even higher.
The 1934 Turkish Resettlement Law was the legal justification used for the forced resettlement. It was used primarily to target the region of Dersim as one of its first test cases, which left disastrous consequences for the local population.
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- TBMM Zabıt Ceridesi, Devre: IV, Cilt: 23, İçtima: 3, 14/06/1934, p.71.
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- TBMM Zabit Ceridesi, Session IV, vol. 23, addenda 189, p. 6.
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- David McDowall, A modern history of the Kurds, I. B. Tauris, 2002, ISBN 978-1-85043-416-0, p. 209.
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Turkish Government Sources