Today marks the 77th anniversary of the execution of Seyit Rıza, one of the leaders of the 1937-38 Dersim rebellion.
Seyit Rıza was born in 1863 in Lirtik, a village in Dersim. His father's name was Seyid Ibrahim from the Hesenan tribe. He was tried and sentenced after a show trial, on 15 November 1937.
He and his fellows were not informed about the basics of their rights and the details of their case. It was not found necessary to provide them with legal council. They were not able to understand the language of the trial (which was Turkish) since they were all Zazas. No interpreter was provided.
The trial ended after three hearings in two weeks. The final judgement was given on a Saturday, a day which the courts do not normally work. The cause behind it was Atatürk's forthcoming visit to the region and the government's fear for a possible amnesty claim for Rıza during the visit. The head judge of the court resisted to give his final decision on a holiday and alleged the lack of electricity at night time and a hangman. After giving the guarantees on lighting the courtroom with car lights and to make ready a hangman, everything was ready for the final stage.
Eleven men including Seyit Rıza himself, his son Usene Seyid, Aliye Mırze Sili, Cıvrail Aga, Hesen Aga, Fındık Aga, Resik Hüseyin ve Hesene İvraime Qıji were sentenced to death. Four of the eleven death sentences were turned into 30 year prison sentences.
Seyit Rıza was 78 years old when the sentence was announced. This made it illegal to hang him. Yet the court noted that he was 54, not 78. And the leader of the Dersim rebellion was hanged.
He was buried in a secret place. To this day, the whereabouts of his grave is unknown.