ORHAN KEMAL – AKP continues with cosmetic reforms for Alevis

AKP continues with cosmetic reforms for AlevisPrime Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu went to Tunceli, called Dersim by locals, and made some symbolic gestures, like renaming Tunceli University to Munzur University, which is a divine name for Alevis in Tunceli. He came back to Ankara thinking he had done something for Alevis in this country.

All Alevis want is to be equal citizens of this country all they want is for no one in this country to qualify their beliefs, for no one to dare say that their cemevis are not places of worship.DavutoIlu, without touching any of the core demands of the Alevis, claims that his government is doing something for Alevis.

What he does not understand is that Alevis feel that they are being humiliated, that they are not respected, and unfortunately, DavutoIlu is just deepening these feelings by taking irrelevant steps for the needs of Alevis.In the core of the matter lies a serious disrespect for the beliefs and identities of Alevis.

This government, and some institutions operating under their instructions, like the Religious Affairs Directorate, says that cemevis cannot be defined as places of worship. Because the directorate believes there is no such thing as an Alevi religion, Alevism is only considered a subdivision of Islam This is where the problem begins.

You cannot set rules in the area of religious affairs of others by relying on your own beliefs. The directorate is trying to regulate Alevisand#39 religious affairs with rules and principles stemming from Sunni beliefs.

Alevis perform their worship ceremonies in cemevis, they conduct funeral ceremonies there, and the state institutions in Turkey dare to say that their place of worship is not a place of worship.Constant denial of their beliefs forces Alevis to seek relief elsewhere, submitting their grievances to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which has just delivered a critical judgment for cemevis in the case of Cumhuriyeti EIitim ve Kultur Merkezi VakfI v Turkey.

In the case, the ECtHR concluded that denying cemevis certain financial exemptions from which mosques benefit is a breach of Turkeyand#39s obligations under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which prohibits discrimination of people on any grounds, including religious. This judgment is a clear signal to Turkey to end its practices that both clash with freedom of religion and violate rights of its Alevi citizens.

Not only by denying cemevis the status of places of worship, but also by forcing Alevi pupils to get mandatory religious lessons, Turkey ignores the fundamental rights of Alevis. The ECtHR condemned Turkey in two judgments it delivered in 2007 and 2014 cases.

In these cases, the ECtHR concluded that these mandatory religious lessons impose Sunni beliefs on Alevis, and thus violate Alevisand#39 rights in the area of freedom of religion. The government, however, continues dragging its feet in abolishing mandatory religious lessons.

Instead, they are still trying to make cosmetic changes to avoid further condemnation. The AKP, unfortunately, cannot come to the point in which they would recognize freedom of religion and allow the belief systems of Alevis, and treat them as equal citizens.

Instead, they continue opening empty boxes of reforms and uttering fancy but meaningless words for Alevis.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman