Dersim (Officially: Tunceli) is a small town located in the middle of Turkey's Anatolia region, in Northern Kurdistan. With a 2010 population of about 77,000, most of them Kurdish Alevis, being it is one of the smaller Kurdish cities.[i]
During the Ottoman Empire, Tunceli (then known as Kalan) was a part of the region named Dersim. In 1847 Dersim was declared a sanjak (a historical administrative unit smaller than the province). The capital of the sanjak was Hozat. During the Republican period Tunceli Province was established in 1935. In 1946 the former town of Kalan was renamed as Tunceli and it was declared as the capital city of the province.[ii] The era following forming of the Turkish Republic and what it meant for Dersim and Kurds in the region is hidden in this name changing in 1935. With the "Law on Administration of the Tunceli Province" no. 2884 of 25 December 1935, where the city was denied its original name, a forceful policy of assimilation and genocide was to inflict upon its people. In 1936, the city and surrounding area was declared “No Passing Zone” and multiple police and military stations were constructed following the next two years. Same year local tribe leaders rose against the military enforcement, which is when first aim strikes hit Dersim. Kurdish tribes mobilised around a large region lead by Seyid Riza, Aliser, Bira Ibrahim (Baca, Seyit Rizas son) against the states violation but was met with brutal force. Following a short halt during the winter of 1936, thousands of Kurds of the Alevi religion were massacred during the Dersim Genocide between 1937-1938.[iii]
[i] City Population - Tunceli. City Population. Retrieved on 2014-04-01.
[ii] Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
[iii] Demir, Hasan. Dersim’den Tunceliye 38 Katliam Taniklari. Belge Yayinlari (2011)