Tunceli Province

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Tunceli Province
Province of Turkey
Location of Tunceli Province in Turkey
Location of Tunceli Province in Turkey
Country Turkey
Region Central East Anatolia
Subregion Malatya
Government
 • Electoral district Tunceli
Area
 • Total 7,774 km2 (3,002 sq mi)
Population (2010-12-31)[1]
 • Total 76,699
 • Density 9.9/km2 (26/sq mi)
Area code(s) 0428[2]
Vehicle registration 62

Tunceli Province (Northern Kurdish: parêzgeha Dêrsimê, Zazaki: Dêsim, Turkish: Tunceli ili[3]), formerly Dersim Province, is located in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey. It's population mostly consists of Alevi Kurds (Kurmanj and Zaza). The province was originally named Dersim Province (Dersim vilayeti), then demoted to a district (Dersim kazası) and incorporated into Elâzığ Province in 1926.[4] It was finally changed to Tunceli Province on January 4, 1936[5] by the "Law on Administration of the Tunceli Province" (Tunceli Vilayetinin İdaresi Hakkında Kanun), no. 2884 of 25 December 1935,[6][7][8] but some still call the region by its original name. The name of the provincial capital, Kalan, was then officially changed to Tunceli to match the province's name.

The adjacent provinces are Erzincan to the north and west, Elazığ to the south, and Bingöl to the east. The province covers an area of 7,774 km2 (3,002 sq mi) and has a population of 76,699. It has the lowest population density of any province in Turkey, just 9.8 inhabitants/km². Tunceli is the only province of Turkey with an Alevi majority.

Tunceli is known for its old buildings such as the Çelebi Ağa Mosque, Sağman Mosque, Elti Hatun Mosque and adjoining Tomb, castles including Mazgirt Castle, Pertek Castle, Derun-i Hisar Castle, and impressive natural scenery, especially in Munzur Valley National Park, the largest national park of Turkey.

Geography[edit]

Tunceli is traversed by the northeasterly line of equal latitude and longitude.

History[edit]

The history of the province stretches back to antiquity. It was mentioned as 'Daranalis' by Ptolemy, and seemingly, it was referred to as 'Daranis' before him. One theory as to the origin of the name associates with the Persian Emperor Darius. Another, more likely hypothesis (considering the region's Armenian background), says the name Daranalis or Daranaghis comes from the historical Armenian province of Daron, of which Dersim belonged.

The name Daranaghi in what's today Dersim, that in the Mamigonian was times part of Daron.

The area that would become Dersim province formed part of Urartu, Media, the Achaemenid Empire, and the Greater Armenian region of Sophene. Sophene was later contested by the Roman and Parthian Empires and by their respective successors, the Byzantine and Sassanid Empires. Arabs invaded in the 7th century, and Seljuq Turks in the 11th.[9]

As of the end of the 19th century, the region (called "Dersim") was included in the Ottoman sancak (subprovince) of Hozat, including the city and the Vilayet of Mamuret-ül Aziz (Elazığ today), with the exception of the actual district of Pülümür, which was in the neighboring sancak of Erzincan, then a part of the Vilayet of Erzurum. This status continued through the first years of the Republic of Turkey, until 1936 when the name of the province ("Dersim") was changed to Tunceli, literally 'the land of bronze' in Turkish (tunç meaning 'bronze' and el (in this context) meaning 'land') after the brutal events of the Dersim massacre. The town of Kalan was made the capital and the district of Pülümür was included in the new province.

Armenians of Dersim[edit]

Prior to the Armenian Genocide, The Armenians of Dersim lived peacefully alongside the Alevi Zazas, who partially assimilated into and had various Armenian beliefs.[10] During the Armenian Genocide, many of the regions Armenians were living among the Alevi Zazas of the region, with whom they had good relations with.[11] This allowed the Armenians to avoid deportation, and therefore survive the genocide unscathed, because their Alevi neighbors didn't have any negative affinity towards Armenians, and as explained before were somewhat Armenian themselves. The Armenians lived quietly in their mountain villages until 1938, when Turkish soldiers invaded the region to put down a Dersim rebellion, and in the process blew up the St Karapets monastery and killed around 10,000-15,000[12] Alevis and Armenians alike, causing an abrupt end to any open Armenian life in the province. Armenians now were forced to assimilate fully into the Alevi population, moving from their majority Armenian villages to blend in better with the population, and therefore becoming Crypto-Armenians.[13] In modern times, many Armenians have recently tried to regain their identity with catalysts being Turkeys EU accession bid and Hrant Dinks murder, with the Union of Dersim Armenians being formed as an organization with their interests in mind.

Dersim Alevi Kurds[edit]

Tunceli is the only province of Turkey with an Alevi majority.

It has been noted that the Alevi Kurds in Dersim are different than general Turkish Alevism. General Alevism consider themselves Turkic Nomads Shamanic Muslims and a branch off of Islam, well Dersim Alevi Kurds don't consider themselves as Muslims and categorize their Alevism beliefs under Zoroastrian rather than Islam. They do not go to Mosques nor read from the Quran, they have some Christian values well most of it is traditional Kurdish culture, spiritual and folklore beliefs. They have been practicing Alevism before the Ottoman Empire came to the Middle East and many believe Munzur, Dersim to be the heartland of the Alevi religion. Where holy places, all of which are natural features of the landscape, are found in abundance, and where the region’s isolation has insulated it from the influence of Sunni Islam, helping to keep its unique Alevi character relatively pure.[14] An example of this would be Newroz, the Kurdish version of the Persian New Year and a key date in Zoroastrian. The Alevi Kurds come out to sing and dance around the fire, they dress in traditional clothing, wear a red band over their heads and play soft music to their land. This is an important spiritual event to the Dersim Alevis and is considered a holy day, much like Christmas is to Christians. Well other Kurds celebrate this holiday for freedom, the Alevi Kurds celebrate it for mostly religious purposes. They sing and dance as a way to pray to their gods/land, so that their crops and flowers can grow healthy. They lit candles so the good spirits may bring them luck inside their home. The Dersim Alevi Kurds are a minority within a minority, as they're suppressed by not only their culture for being Kurdish, but also their religion as a large number of Turks and Kurds outside of Dersim/Tunceli are Sunni Muslim. The Alevi Kurds have a history of being attacked and discriminated by Sunni Muslims in the past, both by the Ottoman Empire and Kurdish Sunni Muslims from other provinces due to their religion.

Regardless of what the local population may identify as, the primary native language of the province, the Zaza language is linguistically not Kurdish.[15][16]


Armenian Alevis

Because the Alevis have lived with their fellow Christian Armenians for centuries, they have Christian values mixed in with their religion more than any other Alevi tribes in Turkey. Because of this most Armenians chose to convert to Alevism instead of Sunni Islam when they were being suppressed by the Ottoman Empire. The Christian Armenians could still freely practice their Christian beliefs within Alevism in Dersim. Their fellow Kurdish Dersim Alevis would encourage their Christian beliefs and would keep their true religion a secret from being prosecuted from Sunni Muslims. Keeping the Armenian's religion and beliefs a secret, along with not participating in the Armenian Genocide and even helping the Armenians escape their death, the Dersim Armenians have a strong bond with the Dersim Alevis and Dersim Zazas.

Name changes[edit]

After the Dersim massacre, all the Kurdish villages and towns were changed from Kurdish to Turkish during the Turkification period in order to suppress any non-Turkish heritage.[18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27] During the Turkish Republican era, the words Kurdistan and Kurds were banned. The Turkish government had disguised the presence of the Kurds statistically by categorizing them as Mountain Turks.[28][29]

Nişanyan estimates that 4,000 Kurdish geographical locations have been changed (Both Zazaki and Kurmanji).[30] The people of Tunceli have been actively fighting to get their province reverted to its old Kurdish name "Dersim". Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) claimed they are working on what it called a “democratization package” that includes the restoration of the Kurdish name of the eastern province of Tunceli back to Dersim in early 2013, but there has been no updates or news of it since then.[31]

Districts[edit]

Tunceli Province is divided into eight districts (capital district in bold):

Although a distinct province, Tunceli was administered from Elazığ until 1947.

Cities and towns[edit]

Education[edit]

Ninety-eight percent of Tunceli's population has at least a primary school education, leading to one of the highest rates of literacy for a district within Turkey. In 1979/1980 Tunceli had the highest number of students attending universities as well as the top entry points until the only higher education school shut down and was converted to a military base.

Tunceli University was established on May 22, 2008.[32] It has departments in international relations, economics, environmental protection engineering, industrial engineering, electronic engineering, computer engineering and mechanical engineering.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Turkish Statistical Institute, MS Excel document – Population of province/district centers and towns/villages and population growth rate by provinces
  2. ^ Area codes page of Turkish Telecom website (Turkish)
  3. ^ "Mevcut İller Listesi" (PDF) (in Turkish). İller idaresi. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Album of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Vol. 1, p. XXII, Dersim İli, 26.06.1926 tarih ve 404 sayılı Resmi Ceride'de yayımlanan 30.5.1926 tarih ve 877 sayılı Kanunla ilçeye dönüstürülerek Elazıg'a bağlanmıştır.
  5. ^ Paul J. White, Primitive rebels or revolutionary modernizers?: the Kurdish national movement in Turkey, Zed Books, 2000, ISBN 978-1-85649-822-7, p. 80.
  6. ^ New perspectives on Turkey, Issues 1-4, Simon's Rock of Bard College, 1999 p. 15.
  7. ^ Victoria Arakelova, "The Zaza People as a New Ethno-Political Factor in the Region" - in – “Iran & the Caucasus: Research Papers from the Caucasian Centre for Iranian Studies, Yerevan”, vols.3-4, 1999-2000, pp. 197-408.
  8. ^ G.S. Asatrian, N.Kh. Gevorgian. Zaza Miscellany: Notes on some Religious Customs and Institutions. – A Green Leaf: Papers in Honour of Prof. J. P. Asmussen (Acta Iranica - XII). Leiden, 1988, pp. 499-508
  9. ^ Seyfi Cengiz Tarih (2005). History.
  10. ^ http://www.kirdki.com/images/kitaphane/Meqale%202.pdf
  11. ^ http://www.academia.edu/8162093/The_Halvori_Vank_An_Armenian_Monastery_and_a_Zaza_Sanctuary
  12. ^ Turkey's Alevi enigma: a comprehensive overview, Paul J. White, Joost Jongerden, 2003, page 198
  13. ^ http://repairfuture.net/index.php/en/identity-standpoint-of-armenia/the-search-for-identity-in-dersim-part-2-the-alevized-armenians-in-dersim-armenian#_ftn2
  14. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/travel/finding-paradise-in-turkeys-munzur-valley.html
  15. ^ http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/Dargin_-_Working_Paper_-_FINAL.pdf
  16. ^ A Modern History of the Kurds: Third Edition - David McDowall - Google Books. Books.google.com. 2004-05-14. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  17. ^ a b http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/12/turkey-alevis-beholden-politics-201412168438512717.html
  18. ^ (Turkish) Tunçel H., "Türkiye'de İsmi Değiştirilen Köyler," Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, Firat Universitesi, 2000, volume 10, number 2.
  19. ^ Eren, editor, Ali Çaksu ; preface, Halit (2006). Proceedings of the second International Symposium on Islamic Civilization in the Balkans, Tirana, Albania, 4-7 December 2003 (in Turkish). Istanbul: Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture. ISBN 978-92-9063-152-1. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  20. ^ Boran, Sidar (12 August 2009). "Norşin ve Kürtçe isimler 99 yıldır yasak". Firatnews (in Turkish). Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  21. ^ Nisanyan, Sevan (2011). Hayali Coğrafyalar: Cumhuriyet Döneminde Türkiye'de Değiştirilen Yeradları (PDF) (in Turkish). Istanbul: TESEV Demokratikleşme Programı. Retrieved 12 January 2013. Turkish: Memalik-i Osmaniyyede Ermenice, Rumca ve Bulgarca, hasılı İslam olmayan milletler lisanıyla yadedilen vilayet, sancak, kasaba, köy, dağ, nehir, ilah. bilcümle isimlerin Türkçeye tahvili mukarrerdir. Şu müsaid zamanımızdan süratle istifade edilerek bu maksadın fiile konması hususunda himmetinizi rica ederim."
  22. ^ Nişanyan, Sevan (2010). Adını unutan ülke: Türkiye'de adı değiştirilen yerler sözlüğü (in Turkish) (1. ed.). İstanbul: Everest Yayınları. ISBN 978-975-289-730-4.
  23. ^ Jongerden, edited by Joost; Verheij, Jelle. Social relations in Ottoman Diyarbekir, 1870–1915. Leiden: Brill. p. 300. ISBN 978-90-04-22518-3.
  24. ^ Simonian, edited by Hovann H. (2007). The Hemshin: history, society and identity in the highlands of northeast Turkey (Repr. ed.). London: Routledge. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-7007-0656-3.
  25. ^ Jongerden, Joost (2007). The settlement issue in Turkey and the Kurds : an analysis of spatial policies, modernity and war ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill. p. 354. ISBN 978-90-04-15557-2. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  26. ^ Boran, Sidar (12 August 2009). "Norşin ve Kürtçe isimler 99 yıldır yasak". Firatnews (in Turkish). Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  27. ^ Tuncel, Harun (2000). "Türkiye'de İsmi Değiştirilen Köyler English: Renamed Villages in Turkey" (PDF). Fırat University Journal of Social Science (in Turkish) 10 (2). Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  28. ^ Metz, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. Ed. by Helen Chapin (1996). Turkey: a country study (5. ed., 1. print. ed.). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Print. Off. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-8444-0864-4. Retrieved 8 March 2013. During the 1930s and 1940s, the government had disguised the presence of the Kurds statistically by categorizing them as "Mountain Turks." 
  29. ^ Bartkus, Viva Ona (1999). The dynamic of secession ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. pp. 90–91. ISBN 978-0-521-65970-3. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  30. ^ Nisanyan, Sevan (2011). Hayali Coğrafyalar: Cumhuriyet Döneminde Türkiye'de Değiştirilen Yeradları (PDF) (in Turkish). Istanbul: TESEV Demokratikleşme Programı. Retrieved 12 January 2013. Turkish: Memalik-i Osmaniyyede Ermenice, Rumca ve Bulgarca, hasılı İslam olmayan milletler lisanıyla yadedilen vilayet, sancak, kasaba, köy, dağ, nehir, ilah. bilcümle isimlerin Türkçeye tahvili mukarrerdir. Şu müsaid zamanımızdan süratle istifade edilerek bu maksadın fiile konması hususunda himmetinizi rica ederim.
  31. ^ "After 78 years, Turkey to restore Tunceli’s original name". TodaysZaman. Retrieved 2016-02-16. 
  32. ^ Tunceli University Signs Protocol with 4 American Universities

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°12′53″N 39°28′17″E / 39.21472°N 39.47139°E / 39.21472; 39.47139