Dersim’s missing girls break their silence after 72 years *

KurdishCinema - March 23, 2010

In the documentary titled ‘Two Locks of Hair: The
Missing Girls of Dersim,’ which sheds light on the
painful incidents of the 1938 Dersim Operation, four
80-year-old women tell of the trauma they experienced
during the tragedy. The film will be shown during the
International Istanbul Film Festival next month

Concomitant with an increasing questioning of Turkey’s
official history, a new documentary on the women who
were lost following the 1938 Dersim Operation seeks
to illuminate a dark period in Turkish history.

“İki Tutam Saç: Dersim’in Kayıp Kızları” (Two Locks of
Hair: The Missing Girls of Dersim) focuses on the
background of the military operation against Alevis in the eastern province of Tunceli (formerly
known as Dersim) in 1938 by tracking down the girls who were sent into exile after the events.

After 72 years of waiting, four 80-year-old women who experienced the incidents first hand, finally
broke their silence on their trauma for the film.

Documentary director Nezahat Gündoğdu, who was born in Tunceli, started tracing the elderly
women two years ago. Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review, Gündoğdu said:
“I attempted to find the women who suffered in these incidents. It never crossed my mind that the
issue would go that deeper than that when I was beginning the research.”

Because of her individual connections, she succeeded in finding these for women who witnessed
the events and making them talk, she said, adding that they told their own stories with their own
words for the film.

The documentary will be on screen as part of the Istanbul International Film Festival next month
before heading to international festivals.

‘I wanted to break the silence’

When asked about the reason for the name of
the documentary, Gündoğdu said, “Only two
locks of hair remained from two missing girls. It
is a tradition in Dersim to cut and keep the hair
of girls.”

She said she had great difficulties when looking
for the missing girls of the operation and that
this was part of the reason for the endeavor.
“I listened to many stories since my childhood,
and I wanted to break this silence while the
witnesses are still alive.”

She said many women were abducted and
raped during the operation. “As a woman, when
I learned the dimension of the rapes, I could not
believe it. The women I spoke with were 80
years old. Their pains were still fresh as if they
happened yesterday.”

Not easy for the women to speak

Gündoğdu said the women and children
suffered greatly during the incidents, adding
that it was not always easy having the women
speak about the events. “The women all said
they ran away from home. But later on they
started telling their stories one by one.
Considering what they told, we brought together
two missing cousins, one was in Dersim and                            
director Nezahat Gündoğdu
the other was in [the southeastern district of] Adıyaman.”

Gündoğdu not only spoke to the witnesses of the incidents but also examined the historical
documents as researched the Dersim incidents.

The documentary gained added significance given the recent debates that have erupted over the
Dersim Operation. The Republican People’s Party, or CHP, Chairman Onur Öymen made a
November speech in the Turkish Parliament and criticized the Justice and Development Party, or
AKP’s, democratic initiative by appearing to defend the military’s operation in 1938 operation. The
deputy’s comments caused a firestorm of public reaction.

Speaking about the issue, Gündoğdu said, “Actually, Öymen unintentionally did us a favor. Thanks
to him, the Dersim incidents came to light.”

Truth is slowly replacing Turkey’s official history, she said. “Our people are curious about what
happened on this land. They also speak about it, make research, and try to understand it. This is
great progress.”

Gündoğdu said she made the documentary with her own resources, adding that her husband,
Kazım Gündoğdu, and Turkey’s leading artists were also instrumental in realizing the film because
of their great support.

* kaynak:

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