Zilan massacre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Coordinates: 39°12′10″N 43°22′20″E / 39.20278°N 43.37222°E / 39.20278; 43.37222

Zilan massacre
Headline of the daily Cumhuriyet dated July 13, 1930: Cleaning started, the ones at Zeylân valley were completely annihilated, None of them survived, operation at Ağrı are continuing. Ankara 12 (With telephone) ... According to latest information, the cleaning in districts of Erciş, Mount Süphan and Zeylân was completely finished ...
Location Turkey
DateJuly 12, 1930
TargetArarat Rebellion
Attack type
VictimKurdish people

The Zilan massacre[3][4] (Turkish: Zilan Katliamı[5] or Zilan Deresi Katliamı[6][7], etc.[8]), refers to the massacre[9][10] of thousands of Kurdish residents in the Zilan Valley of Turkey by 12/13 July 1930, during the Ararat rebellion, in which 800–1500 armed men participated.[11]

The Zilan massacre took place in the Zilan or Zeylan valley (Kurdish: Geliyê Zîlan, Turkish: Zilan Deresi, Zeylân Deresi) located to the north of the town of Erciş in Van Province. The massacre took place in July 1930, before the Third Ararat Operation (Turkish: Üçüncü Ağrı Harekâtı, September 7–14, 1930), which was a military operation of the Turkish IX Corps under the command of Ferik (Lieutenant General) Salih (Omurtak) against Mount Ararat. The number of people killed in the massacre varies according to different sources. According to the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet (July 16, 1930), about 15,000 people died.[12][13][14] Armenian researcher Garo Sasuni states that 5,000 women, children and the elderly were massacred.[15] Finally, according to Berliner Tageblatt, the Turks in the area of Zilan destroyed 220 villages and massacred 4,500 women and the elderly.[16]


After the Sheikh Said rebellion, on September 24, 1925, the Turkish government prepared the "Reform Plan for the East" (Turkish: Şark Islahat Planı), which provided for special administrative arrangements for the Eastern areas and introduced the Inspector-General system. This plan forced Kurdish aristocrats and religious leaders to relocate to other parts of Turkey. On July 17, 1927, with the "Law on the Transfer of Certain People from Eastern Regions to the Western Provinces" (Turkish: Bazı Eşhasın Şark Menatıkından Garp Vilâyetlerine Nakillerine Dair Kanun), the target of the forced migration was extended.[17]

On October 5, 1927, in Greater Lebanon, the Kurdish nationalist organization Xoybûn was founded by former members of other Kurdish nationalist organisations such as Kürdistan Teali Cemiyeti, Kürt Millet Fırkası, and Comite de Independence Kurde, together with Kurdish intellectuals who took refuge in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, with the help of former members of the Dashnaktsutyun. In 1927 Hoybûn (led by Celadet Alî Bedirxan, Kamuran Alî Bedirxan, Ekrem Cemilpaşa, Memdûh Selîm, and others) decided to promote Ihsan Nuri, a former officer in the Ottoman and Turkish armies, to general (pasha), and sent him to Erzurum with 20 comrades. They published a newspaper named Aigrî and, on October 8, 1927, declared the independence of the Republic of Ararat. Also in October 1927, Xoybûn made appeals to the Great Powers and the League of Nations, and appointed Ibrahim Haski, who was one of the chieftains of Jalali tribe, as governor of Aigrî.[18]

Cabinet decision[edit]

On May 9, 1928, the Turkish government enacted an amnesty law. Amnesty was offered to all oppositional Kurds willing to submit to the Kemalist government, and Kurdish nationalists were freed from prison.[19] However, attempts by the Turkish government at initiating meaningful negotiations failed. The Turkish government then decided to negotiate directly with Ihsan Nuri Pasha, but this effort was also in vain.[20]

On December 29, 1929, President Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) led the cabinet meeting, with participation of the Chief of the General Staff Fevzi Çakmak and İbrahim Tali (Öngören), the general inspector of the First Inspectorate-General. A decision was adopted (cabinet decision No. 8692) to begin a military operation against Mount Ararat in June 1930.[18][21]

Order of the General Staff[edit]

On January 7, 1930, General Staff of the Republic of Turkey sent an order to IX Corps (as follows) with the text of the cabinet decision itself:[18][21][22]

  • Villages inhabited by Kurds between Bulakbaşı and Şıhlı Köyü and places of refuge will be occupied. And let rebels debar from livelihood bases.
  • After cleaning the district of Kurds, to follow toward the line of Ararat peak and establish garrisons in occupied territories.
  • Only mobile gendarmerie forces will winter between 1930 and 1931. In district no residential areas, except needs for gendarmerie regiments, will not be left.
  • In this wise, Kurds debarred from food and housing needs will be distributed or be forced to take refuge in Iran. In this case, problem will be solved with Iran.
  • Operation will begin in the last week of June 1930 and before harvest season.
  • The commander of IX Corps will direct military operation.

Postponement of the offensive against Mount Ararat[edit]

Mountains near Van.

On March 18, 1930, Salih (Omurtak) was appointed the commander of IX Corps.[23] Armed hostilities were initiated by Turkish military against the Ararat insurgents on June 11, 1930. Xoybûn appealed for help for Kurds throughout Kurdistan. İhsan Nuri sent an offensive order to Îbrahîm Agha dated June 18, 1930.[24][25] A Turkish Captain Zühtü (Güven), who was an officer of the 2nd Mobile Gendarmerie Battalion at Iğdır, got this order from a Kurdish rebel. There was wide response to the insurgents' appeal for help, and the Turks temporarily abandoned their offensive against Mount Ararat.[19]

On June 19–20, 1930, hundreds of rebels, led by the sons of Kör Hüseyin Pasha (former commander of the North group of the Hamidiye regiments) and Emin Pasha's sons, crossed the border from Persia and cut the telegraph line between Çaldıran and Beyazit. More than one hundred of them raided the center of Zeylan district and the station of gendarmerie. They made their own tribesmen of the district join them.[26] This Kurdish offensive, and offensives at Patnos and Çaldıran, would be named the Zeylan Rebellion (Zeylân İsyanı or Zeylân Ayaklanması) by the Turkish authority.

According to Salih's official report dated July 2, 1930, about the situation in the north of Lake Van, 350–400 rebels led by Kör Hüseyin's sons and Emin Pasha's sons were in the Patnos area with the support of the surrounding villages of Sofu Mustafa, Kâni, Yukarı Romik, Çakırbey, Gürgüre, Haçlı, Koru, Harabe Kürk, and Çavuş. About 400 rebels led by Seyit Resul were in the Zeylân area with the support of the surrounding villages of Şurik, Su Souk, Kadir Asker, Münevver, Sivik, Ağı, Dedeli, and Şeytan Ava. An unknown number of rebels led by Yusuf Abdal were in the Çaldıran area surrounded by the villages of Aşağı Çilli, Şeyh Rumi, Alikelle, Haçan, Kaymaz, Şeyh Sucu.[27]


Mount Süphan from Lake Aygır.

The Turkish army used two corps (VII Corps and IX Corps) and 80 aircraft for the cleaning operation from July 8, 1930.[28] Generally the date that the massacre took place was considered as July 13, 1930, but Yusuf Mazhar, who was the special correspondent of the daily Cumhuriyet (Turkey's most widely read daily paper in 1930-1940s), reported by telephone on July 12 1930 "the cleaning in districts of Erciş, Mount Süphan and Zeylân was completely finished."[28][29]

According to the daily Cumhuriyet dated July 16, 1930, about 15,000 people were killed and Zilan River was filled with dead bodies as far as its mouth.[12][13][14][30]

On July 15, 1930, İbrahim Tali (Öngören), the general inspector of the First Inspectorate-General, explained that annihilation was performed by troops with people's help, more than thousand militias were lost, villagers who helped rebels were also annihilated.[31]

The Foreign Office reported "The conviction here is that the Turkish 'success' near Ergish and Zilan were really gained over a few armed men and a large percentage of non-combatants."[32]


According to Nazi Erol, the wife of Şükrü (Erol) (eldest son of the chieftain of Bekiri tribe), her first child Salih and all of her women were killed. She survived the massacre because she was hidden under their corpses.[33]

According to Mehmet Pamak's grandfather, thousands of people—men, women, children and elderly—were massacred by machine-gun fire, and blood flowed out of the valley for days. Pamak's aunt (a baby) and his 80-year-old great-grandmother were bayoneted to death.[3]

According to Kakil Erdem, one of the living eyewitnesses of the Zilan massacre, thirty-five of his relatives were killed, and soldiers cut and opened the abdomen of a pregnant woman. Before his eyes, three of his relatives were scalped and two of his brothers were beaten to death.[34]


Cultural influences[edit]

Musa Anter, for the first time, learned about and discussed the massacres of the Kurds, such as the Zilan massacre of 1930, the Dersim massacre in 1938, and the Thirty-three bullets massacre, when he published a journal entitled Dicle Kaynağı (Tigris Spring) with three other friends from Dicle Student Dormitory in 1948.[35]

Yaşar Kemal, one of Turkey's leading writers, learned about the Zilan Valley massacre during interviews in the 1950s and was influenced by the massacre.[6] He described massacres[36] in his novel entitled Deniz Küstü ("The Sea-Crossed Fisherman", 1978). The protagonist of the novel, Selim Balıkçı participated in the Ararat campaigns, was wounded in the face and transferred to Cerrahpaşa Hospital (İstanbul) for treatment.[37]

Zilan massacre and censorship[edit]

In 2007, Ercan Öksüz and Oktay Candemir, journalists working for the Dicle News Agency, interviewed 94-year-old living eyewitness Kakil Erdem and published the interview with the title "Zilan Katliamı'nın Tanığı Konuştu" (Witness of Zilan Massacre Talks). The Van 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance tried the journalists for "inciting hatred and hostility".[38] In 2009, each of them received a prison sentence of 18 months.[4][39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Martin van Bruinessen, "Zaza, Alevi and Dersimi as Deliberately Embraced Ethnic Identities" in '"Aslını İnkar Eden Haramzadedir!" The Debate on the Ethnic Identity of The Kurdish Alevis' in Krisztina Kehl-Bodrogi, Barbara Kellner-Heinkele, Anke Otter-Beaujean, Syncretistic Religious Communities in the Near East: Collected Papers of the International Symposium "Alevism in Turkey and Comparable Sycretistic Religious Communities in the Near East in the Past and Present" Berlin, 14-17 April 1995, BRILL, 1997, ISBN 9789004108615, p. 13.
  2. ^ Martin van Bruinessen, "Zaza, Alevi and Dersimi as Deliberately Embraced Ethnic Identities" in '"Aslını İnkar Eden Haramzadedir!" The Debate on the Ethnic Identity of The Kurdish Alevis', p. 14.
  3. ^ a b Christopher Houston, Islam, Kurds and the Turkish nation state, Berg Publishers, 2001, ISBN 978-1-85973-477-3, p. 102. Interview with Mehmet Pamak, who was the founder and president of Conservative Party (Muhafazakâr Parti) that was founded in place of Nationalist Action Party (Milliyetçilik Hareket Partisi) banned by junta regime of 1980 Turkish coup d'état. Pamak is Kurdish origin and his family was exiled from Erciş to Çanakkale.
  4. ^ a b Freedom of the Press, Freedom of the Press 2010 Draft Report[permanent dead link], p. 2.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Cengiz Çandar, ""Kürt açılımı"nı Ararat-Süphan ekseninde izlerken...", Radikal, July 31, 2009, Retrieved August 16, 2010. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  7. ^ Cengiz Çandar, ""Kürt açılımı"nı Ararat-Süphan ekseninde izlerken...", Hürriyet, July 31, 2009, Retrieved August 16, 2010. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  8. ^ The Zilan massacre in Turkish is also "Zilan Kırımı" in Ahmet Kahraman, Kürt İsyanları: Tedip ve Tenkil, Evrensel Basım Yayın, ISBN 978-975-6525-48-7, p. 322. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish) or "Zilan Deresi Kırımı" in Kemal Burkay, Anılar, belgeler, Cilt 1, Deng Yayınları, 2000, p. 8. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  9. ^ Altan Tan, Kürt sorunu, Timaş Yayınları, 2009, ISBN 978-975-263-884-6, p. 275. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  10. ^ Pınar Selek, Barışamadık, İthaki Yayınları, 2004, ISBN 978-975-8725-95-3, p. 109. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  11. ^ Osman Pamukoğlu, Unutulanlar dışında yeni bir şey yok: Hakkari ve Kuzey Irak dağlarındaki askerler, Harmoni Yayıncılık, 2003, ISBN 978-975-6340-00-4, p. 16. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  12. ^ a b Yusuf Mazhar, Cumhuriyet, 16 Temmuz 1930, ... Zilan harekatında imha edilenlerin sayısı 15.000 kadardır. Zilan Deresi ağzına kadar ceset dolmuştur... ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  13. ^ a b Ahmet Kahraman, ibid, p. 211, Karaköse, 14 (Özel muhabirimiz bildiriyor) ... ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  14. ^ a b Ayşe Hür, "Osmanlı'dan bugüne Kürtler ve Devlet-4" Archived 2011-02-25 at the Wayback Machine, Taraf, October 23, 2008, Retrieved August 16, 2010. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  15. ^ Ahmet Kahraman, ibid, pp. 207-208. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  16. ^ "Der Krieg am Ararat" (Telegramm unseres Korrespondenten) Berliner Tageblatt, October 3, 1930, ... die Türken in der Gegend von Zilan 220 Dörfer zerstört und 4500 Frauen und Greise massakriert. ‹See Tfd›(in German)
  17. ^ Naci Kutlay, "Cumhuriyet ve Kürtler", Toplumsal Tarih, Sayı: 160, Nisan 2007, pp. 27-28. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  18. ^ a b c Mehmet Köçer, "Ağrı İsyanı (1926–1930)", Fırat Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, Cilt: 14, Sayı: 2, s. 385. Archived September 2, 2011, at the Wayback Machine ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  19. ^ a b Paul J. White, Primitive rebels or revolutionary modernizers?: the Kurdish national movement in Turkey, Zed Books, 2000, ISBN 978-1-85649-822-7, p. 78.
  20. ^ Wadie Jwaideh, The Kurdish national movement: its origins and development, Syracuse University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8156-3093-7, p. 212.
  21. ^ a b Faik Bulut, Devletin Gözüyle Türkye'de Kürt İsyanları, Yön Yayınları, 1991, p. 190. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  22. ^ Cemşid Bender, Genelkurmay Belgelerinde Kürt İsyanları, C. 2, Kaynak Yayınları, 1992, p. 93-94. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  23. ^ T.C. Genelkurmay Harp Tarihi Başkanlığı Yayınları, Türk İstiklâl Harbine Katılan Tümen ve Daha Üst Kademlerdeki Komutanların Biyografileri, Genkurmay Başkanlığı Basımevi, Ankara, 1972, p. 232. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  24. ^ Emin Karaca, Ağır Eteklerinde İsyan: Bir Kürt Ayaklanmasının Anatomisi, 3. Baskı, Karakutu Yayınları, pp. 153-155. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  25. ^ İhsan Nuri Paşa, Ağrı Dağı İsyanı, İkinci Baskı, Med Yayınları, 1992, pp. 80-82. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  26. ^ Faik Bulut, ibid, p. 162. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  27. ^ Faik Bulut, ibid, p. 167. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  28. ^ a b Yönetim Zamandizini 1930 yılı, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti İdare Tarihi Araştırması (TİDATA), Ankara Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi Kamu Yönetimi Araştırma ve Uygulama Merkezi: 2, Ankara, 2007, p. 180 (78th page of Pdf file) 12 Temmuz'da Zeylan deresi civarındaki eşkıya imha edildi. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  29. ^ Yusuf Mazhar, Cumhuriyet, 13 Temmuz 1930, "Temizlik başladı: Zeylân deresindekiler tamamen imha edildi. Bunlardan tek bir kişi kurtulmamıştır. Ağrı'da harekât devam ediyor." Ankara 12 (Telefonla) --- Son malûmata göre Erciş, Süphan dağı ve Zeylân havalisinde temizlik tamamen bitmiş.... ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  30. ^ Ayşe Hür, "Bu kaçıncı isyan, bu kaçıncı harekât?" Archived 2012-09-18 at the Wayback Machine, Taraf, December 23, 2007, Retrieved August 16, 2010. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  31. ^ Vakit, July 15, 1930. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  32. ^ Robin Leonard Bidwell, Kenneth Bourne, Donald Cameron Watt, Great Britain Foreign Office, British documents on foreign affairs: reports and papers from the foreign office confidential print. From the first to the Second World War. Turkey, Iran, and the Middle-East, 1918-1939. The Turkish revival, 1921-1923, University Publications of America, 1997, ISBN 978-0-89093-603-0, p. 106.
  33. ^ Nevzat Çağlar Tüfekçi, "Akbük’ün Kürt ninesi", Radikal, October 26, 2008 (calls event "Zilan Deresi Kıyımı"), Retrieved September 9, 2010. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  34. ^ "77 yıl önce yaşanan Zilan Katliamı'nın tanığı: Hamilelerin karnını deştiler, akrabalarımın kafatasını yüzdüler", Dicle Haber Ajansı, September 21, 2007, 09:56, Retrieved August 18, 2010. "Archived copy" (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 2010-08-18. Retrieved 2010-08-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  35. ^ Ahmet Alış, "The Process of the Politicization of the Kurdish Identity in Turkey: The Kurds and the Turkish Labor Party (1961–1971)", Atatürk Institute for Modern Turkish History, Bosphorus University, p. 73.
  36. ^ Yashar Kemal, translated by Thilda Kemal (Serrero), The sea-crossed fisherman, Braziller, 1985, ISBN 978-0-8076-1122-7, p. 58, (Salih Pasha )......Every time one of his soldiers was killed by the Kurds, he'd go mad with rage and order the nearest Kurdish village to be set on fire and all its men shot.
  37. ^ Yashar Kemal, ibid, pp. 57, 58, 149 etc.
  38. ^ "2008 Raporu: TCK madde 125 - 220 Davaları", TİHV raporları, Retrieved September 10, 2010. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
  39. ^ "Üç Ayda 190 Düşünce Suçlusu!", Bianet, November 6, 2009, Retrieved September 10, 2010. ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)